This essay addresses how an interrogation of the concept of value can make room for a materialist reading of sexuality that goes beyond the identifiably “queer” to address the historical specificity of capital's investment in formations of sexual identity. The production of sexuality, through which unpredictable constellations of desire, knowledge, and practice become concretized into limited models of sexual identity, is bound up in the way capital produces the subjects accommodated to its own needs. Thus “queer value” sutures together two domains too often understood to operate autonomously: the psychic realm of desire and the material realm of accumulation and exchange. If we take seriously the notion of affect in relation to labor, then the daily, repetitive performances through which bodies are socially legible as gendered (whether coded as queer or straight) constitute a kind of affectively necessary labor—that is, the compulsory repetition of gender as performance might usefully be understood as a form of self-conscious labor that produces value, both material and social. It is the realm of affect that renders such performances to seem as though they are spontaneous, the reflection of the subject himself or herself rather than the internalized form of subjection through which each individual becomes legible as a social subject.

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