Homosexuality is the truth of love.
—Gilles Deleuze, Proust and Signs
No one wants to be called a homosexual.
—Leo Bersani, Homos
The Tension Between My Epigraphs' Formulations Might be Taken as The Animating Energy of Queer Theory. If the first provides queers with a vision of our sexuality as flatteringly significant, the second insists with punishing concision that this significance resists translation into social equality. More precisely, the two statements could be seen as mutually constitutive: it is the social abjection of the sexually deviant that makes our sexuality interesting, as it is the excessive symbolic interest of our difference that has made us socially volatile. Or at least this has been one guiding assumption of queer theory, which has leveraged some of its most imaginative work by arrogating to queerness a symbolic centrality out of all proportion to queers' acknowledged numbers or to our social power. It is no accident that Leo Bersani articulates the unpleasant reality principle in this little epigraphic debate. His writing is justly famous for its suspicion of the rhetoric of identitarian dignity and for its refusal of conceptual consolations of all kinds; Bersani's habit of accentuating the negative made his work the inevitable reference point for PMLA's May 2006 Forum on the “antisocial thesis” in queer theory (Caserio et al.). And yet for all Bersani's insistence on exposing the fantasies of transcendence undergirding our culture and our criticism, his writing is perhaps even more remarkable for the way it has managed to combine that scouring sensibility with a sense of ethical and political promise. Refusing the culture of redemption won't, of course, quite save you. But Bersani's work has always suggested that it could be beneficent (a favorite word of his).