In organizing itself around the resurrected vitality of queer, queer theory has staked its paradoxical claim on something that is at once all future and no future. For every scholar who represents the critical impulse of queer as future-directed and open-ended, there is another who represents it as washed up and already exhausted: "In the short shelf-life American marketplace of images, maybe the queer moment, if it's here today, will for that very reason be gone tomorrow"; "Queer may soon lose all affectivity as a word, a marker, or a threat (it may already have done so)"; "Queer politics may, by now, have outlived its political usefulness" (Sedgwick, 1993, p. xii; Halberstam, p. 256; Halperin, p. 112). This sense of queer theory's built-in obsolescence might be read as evidence less of queer theory's inevitable decline than its transitory and always transformational potential. Indeed suspicion about the ongoing usefulness of queer theory is a better measure of its viability than widespread institutionalization and normalization. The most valuable capacity of queer theory, after all, is not to prove that it has been right all along but to hold open non-referentiality as a political strategy for thinking about a future that will be nonterritorial, demotic, and provisional but that remains for the present unimaginable.
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