This special issue considers how queerness constitutes and designates forms of sociality. Specifically, it explores how a utopian, inventive impulse in sexual sociabilities is simultaneously articulated with a dehiscent, corrosive pull away from sociality. An interplay between these two trajectories, we argue, has informed queer theory from its inception. We develop the concept of queer bondsto describe relations radically in excess of humanist and neoliberal accounts of the individual, suggesting queer theory has always been a theory of queer bonds. If sex is (or becomes queer when it is) a force of tearing and symbolic rupture, queer theory teaches us that it is also a forging of sociabilities in this space of rupture. It also teaches us that queer collectivities are always made across and through social negativities. Theorizing queerness in terms of queer bonds rather than queer subjects has two implications. First, we ask whether the closet still functions as a monolithic epistemological regime that produces homosexuality as a question, primarily, of what is known and not known. Instead, we ask how lateral, or “slantwise,” forms of reciprocal interpellation between queers may have defined an “us” as much as the disciplinary regimes of modernity that invented “homosexuality.” Second, we ask how we should approach today the question of oppositionality to regimes of social normativity, arguing that an oppositional stance is a necessary but not sufficient condition for queer self-definition. Queer bonds are forged where a resistance to homophobic regimes of knowledge and normalization is articulated with precarious, transitory zones of self-exemption from those regimes. Building on and recasting debates about homonormativity and homonationalism, this introduction argues that we need a theory of queer bonds that can span differences that will remain incommensurable, holding open a space of resistance while acknowledging that queer bonds also produce sociabilities that cannot be apprehended in advance in the terms according to which we have come to understand them.

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