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Post-homophobia comes out: The rise of Mormon polygamy in US popular culture

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The past decade has witnessed significant gains for gay men and lesbians in the United States, a development lauded as liberal progress and decried as an infringement on religious rights. Meanwhile, a Mormon polygamy cottage industry that addresses cultural anxieties about sexuality and religion has appeared in US media. Although these two trends may seem only slightly related, we argue that they herald the dawn of ‘post-homophobia’ as a discursive framework for incorporating the legacy of LGBTQ+ social movements. This article analyses how both Sister Wives and news coverage of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) police who can become an intelligible US citizen and on what sexual and religious grounds. Although post-homophobia makes space for alternative familial arrangements, it recentres white, middle-class, Christian heterosexuality as the rightful heirs to sexual minority politics. Under the guise of familial pluralism and religious freedom, such portrayals ultimately shore up mono/heteronormativity and the neo-Orientalism that undergirds the US War on Terrorism.
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Keywords: Christ of Latter-Day; Church of Jesus; Fundamentalist; Mormon polygamy; Saints; Sister Wives; Warren Jeffs; neo-Orientalism; post-feminism; post-homophobia; post-racism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Allegheny College

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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  • Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture (QSMPC) is a refereed academic journal devoted to the study of representations and expressions of queerness in its various forms. International in scope and representing a wide variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, it publishes scholarship on topics at the intersection of media/popular culture and queerness in gender/sexuality. QSMPC invites articles and artwork pertaining to queerness in media and popular culture, as well as reviews pertaining to recently released queer media artifacts.
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