With the exception of Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina, virtu-
ally all of the texts explored here don’t have much visibility within the
national public cultures of the United States, which is the home base for
most of them; they circulate primarily within more circumscribed gay
and lesbian publics. One of the goals of this book has certainly been to
publicize these lesbian representations of trauma so that the contribu-
tions they can make beyond their more local audiences are more readily
be taken up as cases of national or U.S. trauma. In order to clarify that
point, I’d like to consider some cases in which queer trauma has circu-
lated within the U.S. national public sphere because they reveal that this
kind of publicity is not always a measure of the successful incorporation
of lesbian perspectives into trauma cultures or trauma studies. This dis-
cussion also provides anotheropportunity to take stock of the peculiarity
of the archive of feelings and trauma that has been assembled over the
course of this book—an archive that is not aiming to be the equivalent
of those generated by more familiar sites of national trauma.
As an example of queer trauma achieving national visibility, I would
cite how, in recent years, a gay rights political agenda has made hate
crimes legislation one of its key platforms. Stories about violence against
queers have been effective in drawing attention to the murderous conse-
quences of homophobia; the implication is that homophobia’s power to
incite this kind of violence is traumatic. The death of Matthew Shepard,
a catalyst for a significant (but ultimately short-lived) moment of activ-
ism.1 In addition to using violent death as a wayof publicizing homopho-
bia, the demand for hate crimes legislation also draws its rhetorical power
from linking homophobia’s effects with the fatal consequences of racism
and other forms of discrimination. For example, the Lesbian and Gay
Previous Page Next Page