Marriage, The Final Frontier? Same-Sex Marriage and the Future of the Lesbian and Gay Movement

There is longstanding debate within lesbian and gay communities that marriage equality will auger in a “post-gay” world where being lesbian or gay is no longer a significant identity and people believe that equality based on sexual orientation has been reached leading to movement decline.  The scant social movements research that examines whether goal achievement will lead to movement decline or continued mobilization reaches divergent conclusions.  In this paper, we draw on interviews with Australian lesbian and gay activists to examine how they view the possible achievement of same-sex marriage in order to understand what such a shift may mean in concrete terms for lesbian and gay activism.   We introduce the concept of mobilizing meanings to explain how different members of a politicized collectivity can attach different meanings to the same movement goal and how these disparate meanings may shape identity and strategy in the wake of social change.  We conclude by highlighting the significance of mobilizing meanings for understanding the impact of movement success on identity and strategy and the implications of marriage equality for future lesbian and gay activism.


Part of panel Meaning, Framing, and Emotion in LGBTQ and anti-LGBTQ Politics
October 1, 2016, 16:45–18:30