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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the politics of authenticity by focusing on civic individualism and the cultural roots of gay normalization. It introduces the notion of a “cultural code” to understand something of the cultural grounds of postwar gay and lesbian politics and argues that “civic individualism” has been a dominant cultural code in contemporary America. The article begins with a discussion of the founding moment in the gay and lesbian movement: the appearance of the first national political organizations in the 1950s. It then considers the emergence of gay liberationism in the late 1960s and early 1970s that challenged the American culture of civic individualism. It also looks at the rise of a politics of mainstreaming for lesbians and gays during the 1970s and 1980s as well as the triumph of the politics of virtue for the movement during the 1990s.

Keywords: politics of authenticity, civic individualism, gay and lesbian politics, cultural code, gay and lesbian movement, gay liberationism, politics of mainstreaming, politics of virtue

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