This study explores queer quarantine, my conceptualization of processes and practices aimed at assessing, diagnosing and isolating queer threats to the nation. In theorizing queer quarantine, I draw upon the longstanding conflation of queerness with disease and contagion, and build a case for reading the isolation, containment and casting out of queerness as an assemblage of discursive tactics and technologies aimed at quarantining queers beyond conventional understandings of quarantine. I examine the ways queers are imagined to threaten public space, healthy bodies, and the future of the
nation, and provide a new accounting for so-called homophobic policies and practices deployed in statecraft and dominant culture. I also trace the emergence of the queer AIDS monster, an effect of disciplinary tactics of queer quarantine and a particular discursive formation in its own right.
My study has two aims: building a case for queer quarantine and, at the same time, demonstrating how queer quarantine can be used as a new model of analysis to identify and explore some of the ways the Canadian state and dominant culture continue to marginalize and oppress queers despite the rights
gains and “acceptance” that some gays and lesbians have achieved.
My analysis reveals that in 1970s Toronto, the rapidly increasing visibility of queerness became a public threat necessitating tactical responses from local authorities and the police to quarantine queer spaces. The advent of AIDS saw a new and heightened level of surveillance directed nationwide onto queer bodies by medical and legal authorities, with the development of new tactics and technologies of queer quarantine to protect against multiplying threats of queer contagion. Increased state obsession with national security
in the era of homonationalism sees a renewed focus on queer threats to the nation’s future, for example, via children and the national blood supply.
This interdisciplinary study weaves together concepts and theories from cultural studies, history, sociology, queer theory, feminist theory, contagion studies, epidemiology, and applied linguistics, resulting in a multi-scalar analysis of the ways that queer quarantine can be employed to provide new readings of state and dominant cultural responses to queer threats over a forty-year period.