on 3 December 2008
I absolutely loved this book, an absolute one woman tour de force exploring some elements of the the facile politics at the centre of the LGBT movement in the 80's & 90's. As someone who is not LGBT, Feminist or Marxist I thought this book might not be for me but I didn't feel that for one minute. It was an illuminating insight into the political contradictions built into the LGBT movement and the various clusterings within it.
Nicola Field's main thesis is that much of the movement ignores the history of social struggle and in particular how different groups and classes in society are affected in different ways by class relations. As a viewer from the outside I found comfort in my own observation that the LGBT society often seems to have as its public face a glory in a hedonistic consumerist approach. As Nicola picks apart, the challenges facing those lower down the social scale are often ignored and marginalised. This separation of wider social issues creates a shallowness in the ability of the LGBT movement in supporting solidarity with others who are being systemically oppressed in other ways.
Nicola Field's book is so much more than a broad and compelling theoretical observation, although it certainly is that as well. It sounds and speaks as if from the voice and body of someone who is getting their hands dirty. I totally admire her courage to confront what must have seemed like huge unholy cows of the movement at the time the book was written.
While at times the dialogue is unyielding and harsh in criticism of people who were at least doing something in what was a difficult political climate it none the less generates much needed self examination from the 'inside'. I found the some of the claims made about the family very contestable but fully agree that the LGBT movement gains most strength when it supports and recognises its history of emancipation with the fight for equality in all areas of social justice around the world. This book is passionate, extremely intelligent and a delightful polemic of personal and political energy
on 3 December 2008
This important book addresses issues seldom discussed elsewhere. LGBT people have made great advances, but there are also real limitations. In particular, the commercial scene of the bars and clubs imposes values all too similar to those of their straight equivalents - the need to have the "right" body, wear the "right" clothes and so on. And that's much easier to achieve if you have the money. Field examines the divisions that creates among LGBT people, and calls into question the simple assumption that we are all part of a "community" with the same interests.