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“Community Voices” and “Speaking Out”: Rights Talk and the LGBTQ Community in the 1980s

Studies in Law, Politics, and Society

ISBN: 978-1-78714-812-3, eISBN: 978-1-78714-811-6

Publication date: 30 June 2017


This study challenges contentions that rights are limiting through an analysis of grassroots rights talk in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer) community in the 1980s. I argue that rights talk can be an important source of constructing community within local, nonmainstream, noninstitutional spaces through a discourse analysis of a forum for LGBTQ community-building in the past: the letters to the editor columns in Gay Community News. This study enhances law and social movement scholarship on the role of rights in social movements by exploring how rights discourse is employed by everyday people in a noninstitutional community-building venue rarely addressed in contemporary research.




The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance and encouragement of George Lovell as well as Michael McCann and Rachel Cichowski who provided feedback and support at various stages of this study. The author is further grateful for the constructive comments of numerous academic conference attendees and discussants, especially Anna-Maria Marshall and Scott Barclay.


Adam, E.M. (2017), "“Community Voices” and “Speaking Out”: Rights Talk and the LGBTQ Community in the 1980s", Studies in Law, Politics, and Society (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 73), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 21-46.



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