A groundbreaking work that turns a “queer eye” on the criminal legal system
In March 2003—three decades after Stonewall—police stormed the Power Plant, a private Detroit club frequented by African American LGBT people. Over 350 people were handcuffed and subjected to homophobic slurs. Some were hit on the head and back; others were slammed into walls. Their supposed crime was later chalked up to a bizarre infraction: “loitering inside a building.” Three years earlier, Freddie Mason, a thirty-one-year-old Black gay man was arrested after a verbal altercation with his landlord, and then anally raped with a billy club covered in cleaning liquid by a Chicago police officer. Bernina Mata, a Latina, was sentenced to death on the theory that being a “hardcore lesbian” caused her to kill. A Tennessee police officer’s brutal beating of Duanna Johnson, a Black transgender woman, was even caught on camera. Within a year, she was dead—the third African American transgender woman in Memphis in three years whose murder remains unresolved. Events such as these illuminate a long shadow of criminalization of LGBT people in America.
Drawing on years of research, activism, and legal advocacy, Queer (In)Justice is a searing examination of queer experiences—as “suspects,” defendants, prisoners, and survivors of crime. The authors unpack queer criminal archetypes—like “gleeful gay killers,” “lethal lesbians,” “disease spreaders,” and “deceptive gender benders”—to illustrate the punishment of queer expression, regardless of whether a crime was ever committed. Tracing stories from the streets to the bench to behind prison bars, the authors prove that the policing of sex and gender both bolsters and reinforces racial and gender inequalities. A groundbreaking work that turns a “queer eye” on the criminal legal system, Queer (In)Justice illuminates and challenges the many ways in which queer lives are criminalized, policed, and punished.
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