Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Value of Unrespectability

The artists discussed in this book, from Paul Cadmus to Holly Hughes, could not transcend the homophobic constraints imposed upon their work.  They could, however, restage and resist those constraints within the space of their art.  Rather than defending their work as proper or decent, these artists drew upon the force of the improper and the indecent, the force of fairies, most wanted men, sadomasochists, AIDS activists, and flaming queers.  They used the outlaw status of homosexuality both to contest the threat of censorship and to propose other visions of social, sexual, and creative life. These artists offer a record of resistance within the history of twentieth-century American culture.  But they also do something more.  In the face of ongoing demands for decent art, they urge us to recognize the value, and to take the risk, of unrespectability.

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