In this essay, Cris Mayo describes a tension between recognizing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (lgbt) people by law and giving (or denying) them certain legal rights on the basis of identity, on the one hand, and enabling queer people, not always fully recognizable as inhabiting particular identity categories, to live their potentials, on the other. Laws and rights regulate particular kinds of people, and while lgbt people have pursued civil rights energetically for the last sixty years or so, their queerness continues to complicate their attempts to gain legitimacy. Beyond civil rights claims, queer liberationist claims push the limits of the understanding of identity, sexual practices, and political life, because they prompt us to consider not just abstract possibilities and freedoms but the freedoms and possibilities of people barely recognizable. Mayo shows how these queer claims are often hard to frame in terms of liberal theory and actual law.
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