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Subject-Subject Consciousness

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Subject-SUBJECT consciousness, a concept proposed by Harry Hay believed by Hay to be queer people's unique perspective on the world. Hay saw heterosexual society existing in a subject-object dynamic; where men, who had the culturally acceptable power, saw only themselves as subject and therefore higher than women, who were treated as objects and property. Hay extrapolated this interpersonal-sexual dynamic (male-power:female-subordinate) into a broader social context, believing that the subject-object relationship was the driving force behind most all of societies ills. Objectification served as a barrier, emotionally separating an individual (subject) from another individual by dehumanizing them, making them object.

When Hay looked at homosexual relationships, however, he saw a different dynamic at work. He believed that homosexual relationships were based on mutual respect and empathy for the other, a longing for a companion who was as equally valuable as the self. Hay termed this interpersonal-sexual dynamic subject-SUBJECT (which Hay capitalized for emphasis in all of his writings). He believed that this subject-SUBJECT way of viewing the world was queer people's most valuable contribution to the greater society. By empathizing with all people, relating to each other as equal to equal, society would change drastically and social injustices would be eradicated.


  • Harry Hay, Will Roscoe (ed.); Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the Words of its Founder; Beacon Press (1996)
  • Stuart Timmons; The Trouble with Harry Hay: Founder of the Modern Gay Movement; Alyson Publications (1990)

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