What is so bad about the “reductive”? In queer and other scholarship, reductionism signals simplistic homogeneity, fixity, and limitation, which are ideas often taken to be self-evidently problematic. Addressing a range of theoretical material, especially the work of Leo Bersani, this essay attributes the taken-for-granted status of reductionism to queer theory's structuring opposition to ideas associated with sameness—among them normativity, reproduction, and the status quo. However, the essay suggests that the writing of John Rechy can help us reflect on why queer scholarship should be organized in this way. Rechy frequently presents a close relation between forms of reduction and the gay lives and worlds that are a significant focus of his work. Moreover, critics have imagined this gay-oriented work itself to be “reductive.” Rechy is therefore the occasion to ask, counterintuitively, if queer scholarship's aversion to reductionism as mistakenly limiting and homogenizing recapitulates the devaluing of homosexuality in the modern West as a misguided attachment to sameness.
Ben Nichols; Reductive: John Rechy, Queer Theory, and the Idea of Limitation. GLQ 1 June 2016; 22 (3): 409–435. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-3479318
Download citation file: