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Queer studies first emerged in the late 1980s and 1990s under the banner of queer theory, which understood itself as an activist and provocative explanation for the complexities of understanding sexuality in the face of normalizing regimes of understanding. Queer has been a historically derogatory term, used in some contexts to insult sexual minorities and in others to mark someone (or something) strange, odd, or perverse. Embracing the seemingly negative charge of queer—especially at a time when AIDS activists were also demonstrating against the tacit acceptance of death sentences for so many gay men—the term queer became a rallying cry against normalizing forms of sexuality. Queer theorists reclaimed the term precisely to embrace perversion itself. This has at times placed the idea of queerness in ...

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