Gay fathers, gay citizenship: on the power of reproductive futurism and assimilation

Langdridge, Darren (2013). Gay fathers, gay citizenship: on the power of reproductive futurism and assimilation. Citizenship Studies, 17(6-7) pp. 728–741.


Edelman's (2004) new ethics of queer theory is focussed on the all-pervasive image of the child, which he argues provides the foundation for the hegemonic politics of 'reproductive futurism'. His searing criticism raises important questions for sexual citizenship and particularly the gay parent as citizen. Edelman's argument that queers should abandon accommodation and instead embrace their position as the figure of negativity offers a challenge to all those gay men that seek to be fathers. In this paper I critically engage with Edelman's arguments and explore the implications of a queer rejection of reproductive futurism and parental privilege through an empirical investigation of young gay men's stories about the possibility of becoming fathers. I argue that whilst Edelman's uncompromising stance serves to open a space for gay men embracing the jouissance that is increasingly being abandoned through an assimilationist desire for citizenship it also, more problematically, closes down possibilities for gay men and thus further reinforces present inequalities in citizenship. Is negativity the only option in the face of the onslaught of reproductive futurism or might there be a dialectical solution that is at once radically queer but also reflective of the variety of claims for sexual citizenship?

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