In the preface to the 2nd edition of Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire, Eve Sedgwick writes about the emergence in the late 1980s and early 1990s of queer theory, a new literary theory that owes its productivity to the “gorgeous generativity, the speculative generosity and daring, the permeability, and the activism that have long been lodged in the multiple histories of queer reading.” After the famous Stonewall riots, when gay men and lesbians fought back against a police raid on a gay bar in New York City in the summer of 1969, and often under feminist and then gender studies, increasingly vocal gay and lesbian liberation movements took shape. In the 1970s, literary theorists such as Adrienne Rich, Bonnie Zimmerman, Barbara Smith, Gloria Anzaldúa, Louie Crew, and Rictor Norton had begun to define a gay and lesbian studies movement based on the identity politics that had served both feminists and civil rights activists. The 1980s, saw a reappraisal of political strategies and the emergence of a “highly productive queer community whose basis was the criss-crossing of the lines of identification and desire among genders, races and sexual definitions. By the 1990s, queer theory was a vital new area of literary theory, built on the pioneering work of theorists such as Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Monique Witting, and Sedgwick herself; Its aim was to expose incoherencies in the supposedly stable definitions of male and female sexuality, to include not only gay and lesbian but also transgendered subjects, and to explore topics such as cross-dressing, gender ambiguity, and transexuality.

Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire” (1985)
She explores the phenomenon of homosociality: the social bonds formed between persons of the same sex. While these bonds can be distinguished from homosexuality –sexual desire between persons of the same sex- they exist on a continuum with it. The structures of male and female homosocial bonds are quite distinct. The continuum between male homosocial and homosexual desire is disrupted by the intense homophobia (fear of homosexuality) that marks rituals of male bonding in our culture. The opposition between homosocial and homosexual is much less pronounced, for women than it is for men. Desire is used in a sense analogous to the psychoanalytic use of libido (the glue that shapes a relationship). How far this force is sexual will be a question. Homophobia or obligatory heterosexuality is a necessary consequence of such patriarchal structures as heterosexual marriage. It seems impossible to imagine a form of patriarchy not homophobic, but in Ancient Greece this was a fact. The oppression of homosexuals is a product of the same system whose rules and relations oppress women. The historical different shapes of male and female homosociality will always be mechanisms of the inequality of power between women and men. Between Men examines how male homosociality gets constructed and reflected in European literary texts from 1750 to 1850. In particular, she is interested in the ways in which homosocial desire is constituted in Western literature between men whose bonding is forged through their rivalry over a woman who mediates their relationship and deflects any taint of homoeroticism. A popular example of this phenomenon might be the triangle formed between Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot in Arthurian literature.

Epistemology of the Closet” (1990)
She points out that versions of modern lesbian and gay history, recounted by gay liberation movements following Stonewall, were all based on a metaphor of “the closet,” which created the regime of the “open secret” and has dominated lesbian and gay life for more than a century. This regime, with its contradictory and constraining rules about privacy and disclosure, public and private, awareness and ignorance, has shaped the way in which many questions of value and epistemology (knowledge) have been conceived and addressed not only in gay subculture but in modern Western society as a whole. In her book’s introduction “Axiomatic,” she explores this problem through seven “axioms”. The 2nd axiom argues that while sexuality and gender may be implicated in one another, they constitute conceptually distinct realms. To treat sexuality as a part of gender perpetuates heterosexist assumptions about sexuality, foreclosing other ways of understanding. While lesbian, gay, and antihomophobic scholarship have much to learn from feminism, one cannot assume that the interests of the various actors coincide. Alliances among movements to end oppression are strategic and political, not necessarily natural. Her criticism exhibits the strong influence of feminist, Foucauldian, and deconstructive analysis. Philosophical often challenging prose. Political stakes involved in her argument. Some fear that queer theory seeks to dissolve familiar identity categories such as gay and lesbian, creating an apolitical movement that ignores the real material conditions of gay life. Others suspect that queer theory will once more render women and lesbians invisible under the guise of a gender-neutral politics. Political issues aside, Sedgwick’s work raises important questions about the limits of identity politics, and it reshapes our understanding of the relationships between literature and sexuality.
Sex: biological differentiation between members of the species Homo Sapiens who have XX and those who have XY chromosomes. It is the equipment with which nature endows every human being in order to carry out the reproductive function.
Sexuality: The array o acts, expectations, narratives, pleasures, identity-formations and knowledges in both women and men that tend to cluster around genital sensations but is not defined by them. Biologically necessary to species survival. It could occupy the position of the cultural, relational, constructed, and variable also. Sexuality tends to represent the full spectrum of positions, between the most intimate to the most social, the most innate and the most learned. The relationship between a person and the object of their desire. Sexuality is the sexual activity of the individual regardless of biology and gender-constructions, just following whatever or whoever appeals the individual. Consequently, it comprises all human sexual activity (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc.). Until the 1980s, sexuality clashed in many cases with gender definitions in Western culture, but because of the influence of feminism, gender studies, structuralism à la Foucault, and the many groups that fight for their civil rights and vindicate their right not to be discriminated or marginalised because of their sexuality (sexual activity), Western culture has introduced the distinction between sex, gender and sexuality in legislation.
There may be a damaging bias toward heterosocial and heterosexist assumptions in any gender system as female identity or definition is constructed by analogy, suplementarity or contrast to male, or vice versa. This gives heterosocial and heterosexual relations a privilege of incalculable consequence. The condensation of sexual theory into gay-lesbian and antihomophobic theory is skewed by the specificity of its historical placement.
Performative utterances: seemingly nonperformative utterances can have a performative nature, especially those with homophobic and anti-homophobic effects.

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BALDICK, CHRIS. Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.
CASHMORE, ELLIS. Ed. Dictionary of Race and Ethnic Relations. London: Routledge, 1996.