Aids And Queer Theory
For instance, strategies devised in relation to AIDS activism in the 1980s and 1990s reformulated many axiomatic understandings of sexuality in ways that were significant for the parallel development of queer theory. In the face of homophobic governmental responses to the health crisis (particularly in North America), activists worked to contest dominant representations of HIV/AIDS as a gay disease and to develop and deliver safer-sex education programs to a dispersed population with no common sexual identity. In the context of AIDS activism, many commonsense understandings of knowledge, power, identity, and community were radically reworked in ways that coincided with queer theory's denaturalization of sexuality. Advances in safer-sex education initiated a shift from thinking about risk populations to risk practices, reconceiving sexuality less in terms of sexual identities than sexual acts and allowing for meaningful discrepancies between sexual being and sexual doing. Likewise the ad hoc, direct-action, and decentralized character of much AIDS activism was marked by a coalitional rather than a separatist politics that enabled a consideration of identity in terms of affinity rather than essence. So, too, the urgent negotiations over epidemiology, public health, and scientific research implicit in contesting dominant representations of AIDS demonstrated that sexuality is an important nodal point in networks of power and its resistance.