Sexuality and Modernity
Sexuality and Identity - Movements of Affirmation


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1995 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras

Recent sexual politics have been organised around a politics of identity and difference. For many in the urban metropolis of Western societies sexuality has become central to knowing who we are, informing our sense of self and personal identity. Increasingly it has become an intrinsic part of our lived and expressed identities to a greater, degree, than say class, status, gender and ethnicity. Gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, queer, transvestite, transsexual, fetishist .... each group is distinguished by its own unique sexual tastes, preferences, styles and communities. All have appeared on the political stage to claim their rights and social space. We might say we have moved into an era of transsexualism & transgenderism in which sexuality and gender are increasingly loosened and detached from any referentiality to natural instinct or a sexed body.

Sexuality is about style, taste, play, performance and personal preference. On one hand these movements of affirmation and difference emphasis a specific style or personal preference while simultaneously forging distinct communities which offer a sense of belonging, pride and political solidarity. The gay and lesbian mardi gras in Sydney has become and enormously successful and popular cultural event which attracts support from a much wider community than just those who participate. Sexuality has become a potent political axis around which contemporary social struggles are waged. This is not to suggest that sexual liberation has been finally realised; rape, sexual abuse of children, homophobic violence, ignorance and prejudice continue to oppress and harm many in our society. Homosexuality is still illegal in Tasmania and HIV/AIDS continues to fuel conservative propaganda for a return to the ’good old days’ of heterosexual monogamy and individual restraint. What we can say with confidence is that nature has nothing to do with it!


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