An analysis of the findings of this research may help dispel the conception that one of the definitive attributes of a person’s humanity is the construed gender and attach sexuality to person’s biological makeup. …
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Notions of identity, freedom, and autonomy have marked the recent intellectual era. These serve as the as the fundamental and dominant principles and ideologies that underlie liberalism in the society. These ideals necessitate acceptance and respect towards a person’s subjectivity and dignity. However, human experiences are suffused with struggles for equality, rights and acceptance. Stories of oppression and subjugation of gays, lesbians, women, people of color and others have posed a question regarding the authenticity of the notion of the public sphere - the arena wherein equals meet, and where peers encounter. Thus, the search for the person within the public sphere has led to a gamut of discourses centering on the person, or focusing on the public sphere or in combination of - who is the person? and what is the public sphere? In the context of continued struggle of gays for acceptance and freedom, this study will be dealing with queer theory, focusing on gay literature. It will assert the proposition that queer theory is one of the most viable approaches in explaining the current predicament of gay persons as they reaffirm facets of humanity that have been long denied as an authentic expression of being human. As such, the study aims to show the gay community’s struggle for equality in society as their plight is marked by marginalization, shame, discrimination and exclusion. Queer theory denotes a sense of difference or strangeness.2 The researcher acknowledges that queer theory can be learned from different perspectives, and that gay literatures provide valuable and particular view of queer theory rooted in gays’ experiences, articulations and existence in the world. 3 In light of this, the study will use genealogical methodology as it traces the historical underpinnings of queer theory from 19th century to the present. This is done with the supposition that the struggles, which queer theory seeks to explain, are rooted in centuries of suppression as experienced by homosexuals. In addition, this study is significant, as it will attempt to clarify queer theory. The research will have the following structure. The first part is the introduction, which presents the topic of the research, the methodology use for research, the structure of the paper, and the probable outcome of the study. The following part will deal with the discussion of queer theory from the 19th century to the present. The first sub section will deal with the evolution of the terms ‘homosexual and gay’ focusing on the 19th century use of the terms. The second sub-section will deal with the 19th century status of homosexuals and the underlining factors that contributed to their predicament. The third part will deal with the first half of the 20th century situation of gay culture and the fourth part will be focusing on the second half of the 20th century with emphasis on gay liberation and other dynamic changes during this period. Finally, the third and last part of the research deals with the critical analysis of the subject matter of the research. In this part, an analysis of the findings of the study will be undertaken. In the end, it is the hope of the researcher that this research may help dispel the notion that one of the definitive attributes of a person’s humanity is the construed gender and attach sexuality to person’s biological makeup. Queer Theory: 19th century to the Present Although this research does not address narratives about homosexuality prior to the 19th, it does not mean they did not exist prior to 19th century. Instead, aside from reasons of limitations in the research, the 19th century discussions of homosexuality pave the way for the modern understanding of homosexuality, thus, creating a break in the understanding of homosexuality and homosexuals. 4 The modern discourse has created and offered new approaches in understanding gay oppression as it establishes fresh viewpoints of homosexuality. In this regard, I will be undertaking a genealogy of queer theory f
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