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Homosexuality and Publicness: Towards a Political Theory of the Taboo



This article examines the relationship between homosexuality and the concept of publicness, including the idea of the political. Building upon the liberal feminism of Susan Okin, as well as upon recent work in queer theory, this article outlines an account of the ethic of unacknowledgeability, understood as the socially constituted physical disappearance of, and discursive silence about, homosexuality. It will be claimed that the ethic of unacknowledgeability explains why, unlike gendered marginalisation, the marginalisation of gays, lesbians and homosexuality as a subject matter is beyond both public and private and, as such, distinct. To conclude, this article will sketch a political theory of the taboo in which the implications of the ethic of unacknowledgeability for normative political theory are explored. More specifically, it will be claimed that the political theory of the taboo presents a new and unique challenge to politics, and establishes as a new standard of justice the extent to which a theory of justice grapples with the undiscussable.