PJAS 13 Spring-5

Jarosław Milewski
Privilege, Access, Shunning: Familial Homophobia and Its Representations in the Works of Sarah Schulman
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 13 (Spring 2019), pp. 57-72

Abstract: In her book Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences (2009) Sarah Schulman explores the way in which heterosexual privilege interacts with the institution of family, and criticizes its destructive impact on familial relationships. According to her theory, the basis of homophobia is a pleasure principle inscribed in the image of family which encourages every privileged family member to enact their dominance on the excluded. Although Schulman has expressed this idea in clear theoretical terms much later, I argue that it has been a visible element of her writing since the 1980s. This paper demonstrates how the author expressed this idea in the past using diverse sociocultural contexts, and how numerous plots from her oeuvre serve as examples to mechanisms of familial homophobia discussed in Ties That Bind.

Keywords: queer, AIDS, family, homophobia, Schulman

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