How Discourse Creates Homosexuality

Philosopher and Queer Theorist
The discourse of homosexuality as it becomes more popular makes it more possible for people to become gay or lesbian—but it doesn't produce homosexuals, says Butler.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: How does cultural discourse influence homosexuality?

Judith Butler: If we look at the development of the gay, lesbian, bi, trans movement in the United States, the more cultural acceptance, the more cultural discourse, the more media presentation, the more proximity that people have to gay, lesbian, bi, trans people the more that life becomes thinkable. It becomes a cultural possibility that one can consider because it’s already in the world. You could say that the discourse of homosexuality as it becomes more popular makes it more possible for people to become gay or lesbian. My sense is that there is always something about desire and fantasy that is maybe partially unconscious or not fully realizable. Although certain kinds of cultural movements might make it possible it to lead a lesbian or gay life they don’t determine that. They don’t produce homosexuals.

Recorded January 13, 2011
Interviewed by Max Miller
Directed by Jonathan Fowler
Produced by Elizabeth Rodd