introduction Homoeroticism and the Public Sphere
1 Because identity terms can condense powerful affective and political investments, a note
on terminology here is appropriate. When I use the terms lesbian and gay, I mean to in-
dicate their official circulation, as in the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, or Out,
which bills itself as ‘‘America’s best-selling gay and lesbian magazine.’’ These are de-
scriptors of an officially sanctioned identity. When I use the term queer, I mean to mix
both description and advocacy. The latter includes a certain utopian instability of ref-
erence, along with an intended movement away from the officialness (and increasing
officiousness) of lesbian and gay, in affiliation with a more progressively radical direction
for erotic nonconformity. By bringing homoeroticism within the referential orbit of queer, I
thus do not mean to suggest that homoeroticism in any way exhausts, even as it anchors,
queer’s designative possibilities.
2 For more on the translation of Öffentlichkeit into English, see the ‘‘Translator’s Note’’ to
Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Cate-
gory of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger with Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge, MA:
MIT P, 1991), xv–xvi. Habermas himself has recentlyclarified ‘‘publicness’’ as a relational
quality; see his Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democ-
racy, trans. William Rehg (Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 1996), 360–68. Oskar Negt and Alex-
ander Kluge are particularly instructive on publicity as an ambiguated relation between
material sites and normative qualities: ‘‘The public sphere denotes specific institutions,
agencies, practices (e.g., those connected with law enforcement, the press, public opin-
ion, the public, public sphere work, streets, and public squares); however, it is also a
general social horizon of experience in which everything that is actually or ostensibly rele-
vant forall members of society is integrated’’ (Public Sphere and Experience: Toward an Analysis
of the Bourgeois and Proletarian Public Sphere, trans. Peter Labanyi, Jamie Owen Daniel, and
Assenka Oksiloff [Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993], 1–2; original emphases).
3 Jürgen Habermas, Structural Transformation 28. In subsequent citations from this work, I
have occasionally modified the translation when warranted by context or emphasis.
4 Ibid. 50.
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