White as milk: Proposition 8 and the cultural politics of gay rights

Thumbnail Image
Lenon, Suzanne
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Mount Saint Vincent University. Institute for the Study of Women
As part of the U.S. federal elections in November 2008, voters in California narrowly passed Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that eliminated same-sex marriage rights in that state. Against this political-legal backdrop, the movie Milk, based on the life of gay activist Harvey Milk, was released to audiences across North America. Proposition 8 and its aftermath infused social and cultural meaning into the critical acclaim Milk publicly received, and the movie itself became a way to both galvanize and anchor support for gay (marriage) rights. I contend that there is a particular racialization of queer sexuality and proximity to whiteness that links this moment of law and culture together. The paper examines the “knitted-togetherness” of the film’s racially normative representations and the racializing of homophobia that occurred on both sides of the Proposition 8 debate, one that continues the protracted fractioning of race as separate from sexuality within mainstream lesbian/gay politics
Open access. Article licensed under a CC-BY-NO-ND 3.0 Unported LIcense
Proposition 8 , Gay rights , Gay marriage , Milk , Queerness , Whiteness , Harvey Milk
Lenon, S. (2013). White as milk: Proposition 8 and the cultural politics of gay rights. Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture and Social Justice, 36(1), 44-54.