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Respectably Queer: Diversity Culture in LGBT Activist Organizations [Paperback]

Jane Ward


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Book Description

Sept. 15 2008
For three years the author did participant-observation at three nationally prominent queer organizations in Los Angeles - Christopher Street West, which produces L.A.'s queer pride festival; the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, a 37-year-old multi-site organization; and, Bienestar, an HIV services organization for gay Latinos. Ward documents the evolution of these organizations, including class and race conflicts within them, but she especially focuses on the misuses of diversity culture."Respectably Queer" reveals how neoliberal ideas about difference are becoming embedded in the daily life of a progressive movement and producing frequent conflicts over the meaning of 'diversity.' The author shows how queer activists are learning from the corporate model to leverage their differences to compete with other non-profit groups, enhance their public reputation or moral standing, and establish their diversity-related expertise. Ward argues that this instrumentalization of diversity has increased the demand for predictable and easily measurable forms of difference, a trend at odds with queer resistance.Ward traces the standoff between the respectable world of 'diversity awareness' and the often vulgar, sexualized, and historically unprofessional world of queer pride festivals. She spotlights dissenting voices in a queer organization where diversity has become synonymous with tedious and superficial workplace training. And she shows how activists fight back when prevailing diversity discourses - the ones that 'diverse' people are compelled to use in order to receive funding - simply don't fit.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press (Sept. 15 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826516076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826516077
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #720,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

This is an important book. Ward shows how managing diversity in the LGBT non-profit sector mirrors the corporate sector's management of diversity: representing identity differences has become instrumental, not an ethic or end in itself. Her nuanced and complex case studies demonstrate how difference is contained and domesticated, and provide empirical grounding for the larger theoretical claims about the effects of neo-liberal apolitical discourses of diversity, the current funder-directed state of the LGBT social movement, and the importance of documenting ways to resist corporate diversity-speak.--Paisley Currah, Director, Transgender Law and Policy Institute, and Associate Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College, CUNY

About the Author

Jane Ward is Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at UC Riverside.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital Points March 23 2009
By M. Dase - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Especially now, and especially here in California in the wake of the passage of Prop 8, Dr. Ward's book is full of vital information about how incredibly important it is to strive for social justice in an intersectional way, lest we be co-opted, lest we be too divided for unity or coalition, lest we disenfranchise our own voices. Her case studies serve to clearly illustrate what our challenges look like now, and thankfully she provides insight to activists without any sugar-coating or coddling or blue-skying of the issues. A forthright and incredibly valuable text.

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