Annotation: Eve Sedgwick’s “How to Bring Your Kids up Gay” (1991)

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Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. “How to Bring Your Kids up Gay.” Social Text.  29 (1991): 18-27. Print.

Opening her article with statistics of adolescent suicide rates that are disproportionately higher among gays, Sedgwick attacks the inefficiency of current psychoanalysis and psychiatry in addressing the needs for guiding gay development among children and adolescents.  Instead, the field, though it removed sexual object-choice as pathology, equates gender as natural to the given biological sex as the sole form of proper subjectivity and condemns deviance from this gender as a pathological disorder.  She critiques the works of psychoanalysts—mainly Friedman and Green—that align gender assignment as essential to a healthy self.  She argues that while many people now allegedly adopt a more tolerant attitude towards existent gays, they object to the development of homosexuality among kids and adolescents, which impedes the wish for a world in which gays do not exist.  On the contrary, institutions more frequently take efforts to turn these kids away from homosexuality, rather than facilitating their development.  In a broader sense, Sedgwick shows that the privileging of essentialist explanations of sexuality among scholars is futile in the hope for the dignified treatment, rather than the interference with homosexual bodies, and that there is ultimately no theoretical safe haven for queers without the affirmation of desires and the need for gay people in the world.

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3 thoughts on “Annotation: Eve Sedgwick’s “How to Bring Your Kids up Gay” (1991)

  1. Howdy, thanks for sharing this. Problem I’m having is finding “How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay: The War on Effeminate Boys” (Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick)

    Can’t seem to locate the actual piece anywhere? Any ideas?
    Thanks!!

    1. Hi, thanks for your interest! This piece was actually published in the first issue of the academic journal “Social Text.” You should be able to find it through the common journal databases.

      – Frances

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