By Sara Warner
Acts of Gaiety explores the mirthful modes of political functionality through LGBT artists, activists, and collectives that experience encouraged and sustained lethal severe struggles for innovative switch. The publication explores antics resembling camp, kitsch, drag, guerrilla theater, zap activities, rallies, manifestos, pageants, and parades along extra ordinary kinds of "legitimate theater." opposed to queer theory's long-suffering romance with mourning and melancholia and a countrywide schedule that urges homosexuals to give up excitement in the event that they are looking to be taken heavily by means of mainstream society, Acts of Gaiety seeks to reanimate notions of "gaiety" as a political worth for LGBT activism.
The e-book mines the files of lesbian-feminist activism of the 1960s-70s, highlighting the outrageous gaiety that lay on the middle of the social and theatrical performances of the period and uncovering unique files lengthy considered misplaced. Juxtaposing ancient figures resembling Valerie Solanas and Jill Johnston with more moderen performers and activists (including Hothead Paisan, complain & Animal, and the 5 Lesbian Brothers), Warner indicates how reclaiming this mostly discarded and disavowed earlier elucidates probabilities for being and belonging. Acts of Gaiety explores the collectively informing histories of gayness as politics and as joie de vivre, in addition to the centrality of liveliness to queer functionality and protest.
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Extra info for Acts of Gaiety: LGBT Performance and the Politics of Pleasure
The Stonewall uprising was a spontaneous but highly self-conscious performance event. Like all theatrical spectacles, acts of gaiety involve participants and observers. The spectators may be invited to join in the fun, as in the case of the Lavender Menace zap, or they may be the butt of the joke, as the police who raided the Stonewall Inn were. “For years I have heard people describe the event as angry and I suppose in a way it was,” recalled the late playwright Doric Wilson. But that was not the main emotion I remember experiencing that night.
To engage in gaiety is to create a pleasurable and empowering experience out of an event or situation that is hateful or painful. Through parody, satire, and physical comedy, sexual minorities survive by replaying tragedy as farce. In so doing, they make manifest the pleasure of politics and the politics of pleasure. Before exploring further ludic forms of lesbian dramaturgy, I want to chart a longer affective history, as acts of gaiety have played an important role in LGBT world-making projects for a century, if not longer.
Mart Crowley’s landmark play The Boys in the Band (1968), hailed by many as the first commercially successful play to offer a sympathetic depiction of gay male sexuality, centers around a group of closeted and self-loathing upper-middle-class men who rent a hustler for their friend Harold’s birthday party. Referred to only as Cowboy, this rough trade is treated as a piece of meat. Paid to be objectified, the hustler must suffer being openly mocked by the intellectually superior college graduates who contracted his services.