Dying to Be Normal: Gay Martyrs and the Transformation of American Sexual Politics

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Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.5 X 1.1 X 9.4 inches | 1.1 pounds
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About the Author

Brett Krutzsch is Coordinator of the Center for Religion and Media and Instructor in the Department of Religious Studies at New York University. His scholarship examines intersections of religion, sexuality, gender, race, and politics in the United States.


"A remarkably multifaceted study, of value to Queer Studies and the study of Christianity, American religion to comparative study of religion and politics, work on martyrdom generally, and-urgently-scholarship probing ethical questions about representation, this book should be widely taught." --
Spencer Dew, Denison University / the Ohio State University, Religious Studies Review

"Dying to Be Normal is a powerhouse text that I would highly recommend to scholars interested in queer theory, LGBT studies, or religion studies. The book is additionally helpful for scholars of media or activist history, as the author provides rich historic recollections of the media narratives and
activist responses surrounding these figures." -- Jimmy Hamill, Reading Religion

"A provocative blend of religion studies, LGBT studies, and media studies, Dying to Be Normal provides an expansive overview of the relationship between LGBT activists and religious discourses in America.... [A] powerhouse text." -- Reading Religion

"A must-read for scholars and activists alike, Krutzsch's agile and far-reaching analysis demonstrates the tactics and the consequences of assimilationist gay politics: veneration of white, cisgender gay men through sanitized, semi-fictionalized, and Christianized versions of their lives that erase
their own realities and those of their communities. Krutzsch reminds us that there have always been other options, and challenges us to reject assimilationist tactics that are ultimately rooted in exclusion." --Melissa M. Wilcox, author of Queer Nuns: Religion, Activism, and Serious Parody

"Dying to Be Normal offers a fascinating and heartbreaking history of the memorialization and martyrdom of gay figures in the United States. Krutzsch reveals how religious and secular narratives work in this history - often in unexpected ways - to make some gays appear normal, a process that all too
often transubstantiates complicated queer lives into suitable Christian narratives, while leaving others, especially queer people of color, outside the circuit of memory. This moving, unflinching analysis raises the bar for how we talk about religion and sexuality in American politics." -- Anthony
Petro, author of After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion

"Brett Krutzsch's Dying to Be Normal is a brilliant study of martyrdom and memorialization as central to gay activism in the United States. Although religiosity and sexuality are often thought to be opposing forces, the book shows that religion and sex are powerfully entwined. Christian nationalism
and Protestant secularism may form the current parameters of political possibility, but Krutzsch provides an expansive, alternative analysis that opens toward a diverse sexual democracy." -- Janet R. Jakobsen, Claire Tow Professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College, Columbia

"Brett Krutzsch's book, Dying to Be Normal: Gay Martyrs and the Transformation of American Sexual Politics, is a model study�clear, nuanced, and unnervingly prescient�of the complicated relationship between religion and media and how they shape our political present. His synthetic and intersectional
approach to Christianity, memory, sexuality, gender, race, and politics should have a place on just about anyone's reading list or syllabus."--Kali Handelman, The Revealer