Notes: José Muñoz, “The Future Is in the Present: Sexual Avant-Gardes and the Performance of Utopia.” in Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity

Muñoz, José E. (2009). The future is in the present: Sexual avant-gardes and the performance of utopia. in Cruising utopia: The then and there of queer futurity. New York: New York University Press, 49-64.


Muñoz argues that utopian critiques work by insisting the dialectic relationship between the present and the future, showing moments of queer public performances that anticipate and reveal queer-future possibilities.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Theory, Queer Futurity


“Certain performances of queer citizenship contain what I call an anticipatory illumination of a queer world, a sign of an actually existing queer reality, a kernel of political possibility within a stultifying heterosexual present” (49).

“I want to suggest that it is a pathos that undergirds the ageism and, for lack of a better word, lookism of all gay male erotic economies” (59).

“This economy eschews the standardized routes in which heteronormative late capitalism mandates networking relations of sex for money” (59).

“The stickers function as performing objects inasmuch as they solicit a response from spectators. Sometimes people attempt to rip the stickers down; at other times people write directly on the stickers. The stickers themselves then become forums for public debate, where people work through pressing social issues in a space away from the corrupt mediatized majoritarian public sphere. The performances that the stickers demand from viewers open the possibility of critical thinking and intervention; they encourage lucidity and political action. They are calls that demand, in the tradition of African American vernacular culture, a response” (61).

“The peaceful vigil become something else. It became a moment when queer people, frustrated and sick of all the violence they had endured, saw our masses. The police responded by breaking up the group, factioning off segments of our groupings, obscuring our mass” (64).

“The state, like Delany, understands the power of our masses, a power that can be realized only by surpassing the solitary pervert model and accessing group identity. Doing so entails resisting the privatization of queer culture… The riot was sobering because the mechanisms of policing were partially displayed, revealed for an evening, and it became very clear to everyone how the idea of queers making contact in a mass uprising scared the state. The utopian promise of our public performance was responded with shattering force. Even though this impromptu rebellion was overcome easily by the state, the activist anger, a productive, generative anger, let those assembled in rage glean a queer future within a repressive heteronormative present” (64).

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