Queer theory is a field of critical theory that emerged in the early s out of the fields of queer studies and women's studies. Queer theory includes both queer readings of texts and the theorization of 'queerness' itself. Italian feminist and film theorist Teresa de Lauretis coined the term queer theory for a conference she organized at the University of California, Santa Cruz in and a special issue of Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies she edited based on that conference. Through the context of heterosexuality being the origin and foundation of society's heteronormative stability, the concept of queerness focuses on, "mismatches between sex, gender and desire"  Queerness has been associated most prominently with bisexual , lesbian and gay subjects, but its analytic framework also includes such topics as cross-dressing , intersex bodies and identities, gender ambiguity and gender-confirmation surgery. Queer theory also examines the discourses of homosexuality developed in the last century in order to place the "queer" into historical context, deconstructing contemporary arguments both for and against this latest terminology.
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Latest Issue. Past Issues. Yet surveying the various panel discussions left me confused. Gay people were once policed as criminal subversives, depicted in the popular culture as deviants, and pathologized by the medical establishment as mentally ill. Now most of America views homosexuality as benign. Only 30 years ago, 57 percent of Americans believed consensual gay sex should be illegal.
Historically, the term "gay literature" was sometimes used to cover both gay male and lesbian literatures. In a historical sense, literature as we understand it is a fairly new innovation, and the current concept of homosexuality is even fresher from the cultural oven. It's no great surprise, then, that gay literature — or even gay characters in literature — are so relatively new as to still be shiny.