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Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality, Intersectionality, Discrimination, Equal protection doctrine


My argument proceeds in four parts. Part I situates my discussion of the synergistic relationship among race, class, gender, and sexuality within a broader body of research on the "intersectionality'' of systems of oppression and of identity categories. Part I then examines how my scholarship attempts to advance this literature both substantively and conceptually. Part II expounds my claim that the comparative and essentialist treatment of race and sexuality within pro-gay and lesbian theory and politics marginalizes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans­gendered persons of color and constructs and reinforces the notion that the gay and lesbian community is uniformly white and privileged. Part II then examines how anti-gay theorists and activists deploy the "gay as white and privileged" stereotype in their arguments that gays and lesbians, as a privileged class, do not merit the protection of ex­isting equality frameworks. Part II concludes by discussing how an­tiracist discourse contributes to the harmful white-normative construction of gays and lesbians through its heteronormative assumptions about both racial subordination and people of color. Part Ill analyzes the emergence of the white-normative construction of gays and lesbians in equal protection doctrine. Part Ill then argues that jurists invoke this stereotype to justify their refusal to apply height­ened scrutiny to claims of discrimination brought by gay, lesbian, bi­sexual, and transgendered individuals. Part IV proposes a multidimensional framework for analyzing race within gay and lesbian equality discourse that more accurately depicts the injuries of anti-gay and lesbian discrimination and that refutes the "gay as white and privi­leged" stereotype. It is my hope that a multidimensional approach to the question of gay and lesbian equality-one that treats race, class, and gender as integral components of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered identities and experiences-will lead to stronger legal protection of gays and lesbians from discrimination and subordination.

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Cornell Law Review