by Juliana Ketting
Queer theory is a sociological term that fitst came into use in the 1990’s after Teresa de Lauretis’ 1991 journal titled, “Queer Theory: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities” was published. De Lauretis explains that within queer theory there are three interrelated projects at play: “refusing heterosexuality as the benchmark for sexual formations, a challenge to the belief that lesbian and gay studies is one single entity, and a strong focus on the multiple ways that race shapes sexual bias.” Queer theory’s origins are in LGBTQ+ studies, post structuralist theory, AIDS Activism, radical movements of people of color, and many more. As an academic tool, queer theory was developed through gender and sexuality studies that originially evolved from lesbian and gay studies and feminist theory. The theory contests many set ideals of established fields by challenging defined identity categories as well as created binaries of good versus bad sexualities. The term also challenges gender, class, and racial classifications. One of the many key concepts of queer theory is the idea of “heteronormativity”, which pertains to “the institutions, structures of understanding, and practical orientations that make heterosexuality seem not only coherent—that is, organized as a sexuality—but also privileged” (Berlant). Heteronormativity promotes heterosexuality as the normal and/or preferred sexual orientation, and is seen in society through the institutions of marriage, employment, adoption rights, and more.
The work of queer theorists are to contend with the perception of “normality”. Their main challenge is to disrupt binaries in order to disrupt heteronomative inequality. Examples of core theorists of queer theory include: Judith Butler, Gayle Rubin, Michael Foucault, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. These thinkers build off each others’ ideas and theories, while creating their own focus. While many will disagree about a plethora of material and concepts, the one thing they do agree on is that if queer theory is to be understood, then is should not be defined too quickly because of the possibility of it becoming to limited and specific. Queer theory is still elvolving and is not likely to be fully defined or “restrained” to a definition in the foreseeable future. The idea of queer theory is evolving with society rather than putting a label on it, which society has done for centuries.
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 De Lauretis, T. (1991). Queer Theory: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities.
 Berlant, Lauren, and Michael Warner. “Sex in Public.” Critical Inquiry (1998).