Making Out in the Mainstream: GLAAD and the Politics of Respectability

A book presentation by Vincent Doyle
IE University (Spain)
Tuesday May 30th | 3p – 4:30 | MCC 201

Making Out in the Mainstream is the first full-length study of the rise and evolution of GLAAD, the media advocacy organization formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Founded in 1985 by a small group of writers and academics who were angry with how the New York Post was covering the AIDS crisis, GLAAD has become one of the most visible organizations of the LGBTQ movement. This book is based on eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork carried out in 2000–01 and a further round of interviews conducted in 2014-2015.

Doyle argues that the earlier strategy of coming out to the mainstream, intended to dismantle closeted life and create a mass movement, has been supplanted by the market-oriented making out in the mainstream, which privileges respectable images of homosexuality in the pursuit of political and economic gain. He shows how this emphasis on respectability clashes with the development of a diverse movement that campaigns for greater inclusion and he offers a sophisticated appeal for more complicated understandings of assimilation and anti-normalization.

Painting a complex portrait of a prominent gay and lesbian organization during a period of rapid societal change, Making Out in the Mainstream reveals not only the limitations of “mainstreaming,” but also its political possibilities.

Vincent Doyle is the Academic Director of the Master in Visual and Digital Media (MVDM) at IE University (Spain). Originally from Ottawa, Canada, he holds a PhD in Communication from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (USA), and an MA in Communication from McGill University, Montreal (Canada). He is a Fellow of the Sexuality Research Fellowship Program of the US Social Science Research Council (2000) and has received two top paper awards from the International Communication Association.  Prior to his appointment at IE University, he was Visiting Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow at Macalester College, St Paul, Minnesota (USA).