Heteroactivism: Beyond Anti-Gay


  • Kath Browne University of Brighton
  • Catherine Nash Brock University




Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ), homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, sexual rights, gender rights, heteroactivism


This short commentary seeks to begin conceptualisations of heteroactivism, a term used to describe activities that promote heteronormativities as being morally superior to other sexual/gender identities and therefore ‘best for society’. It seeks to show how contemporary oppositions to gender and sexual equalities in places that are seen as ‘liberated’ in terms of sexual and gender rights have moved beyond ‘anti-gay’ discourses and tactics to something else, that has yet to be named or fully comprehended. In this piece, we offer some starting points of the term ‘heteroactivism’, including pointing to its ideological and activist work. We then disentangle heteroactivism, nationalism and white supremacy/fascism, contending that these are distinct phenomena that have different relations depending on the context in which they exist. In the final section, we consider how oppositions to sexual and gendered rights exceed, and at times effectively refute, accusations of ‘homophobia’, ‘biphobia’ and ‘transphobia’, illustrating the inherent geographies of these resistances. The commentary concludes by arguing that contemporary sexual/gendered geopolitical landscapes need an examination of heteroactivism.

Author Biography

Kath Browne, University of Brighton

Professor of Human Geography at the University of Brighton.




How to Cite

Browne, K., & Nash, C. (2017). Heteroactivism: Beyond Anti-Gay. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 16(4), 643–652. https://doi.org/10.14288/acme.v16i4.1631