Originally published in 1987 during the panic around HIV/AIDS, The Regulation of Desire was the first book-length study of sexual regulation in what is currently called Canada. Drawing on his long experience in anti-capitalist groups, the gay liberation movement, anti-racist and anti-police organizing and AIDS activism, Gary Kinsman’s investigation of the social forces that produce both sexual regulations and resistance and enforce queer, trans and Two-Spirit oppression laid the groundwork for subsequent studies of queer sexuality in “Canada” and beyond. It quickly became an essential work of scholarship and an expanded second edition appeared in 1996.
Tracing a history from the beginning of colonization into the twenty-first century, Kinsman’s historical-materialist approach attends to the specificities of race, class, and gender to show how desires, pleasures, and sexualities have been organized and regulated by state relations—in the service of patriarchal, capitalist, and imperialist relations. At the same time, Kinsman documents the emergence of Indigenous, gay, lesbian, and trans resistance, and the formation of queer and trans movements and communities.
This third, expanded and updated edition of The Regulation of Desire includes new chapters on the rise of neoliberal queerness and the mainstreaming of white-defined homosexuality since the late 1990s, along with a new introduction by the author examining how the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing and poverty crisis, and the necessity of Indigenous liberation and police/prison abolition intersect with and transform the politics of queer liberation. This new edition also features a foreword by OmiSoore Dryden and afterword by Tom Hooper, plus updates to the text addressing topics such as the limitations of legal reform and same-sex marriage, and the emergence of transgender activism and abolitionist perspectives, moving far beyond limited rights approaches.
Not only an important landmark in the field of sexuality and gender studies, The Regulation of Desire is also an engaged work of activism. In it, Kinsman illuminates the centrality of sexual politics in the struggle for social transformation, pointing towards an erotic, love-filled future without sexual, gender, and racial oppression or class exploitation.
Gary Kinsman is a queer liberation, anti-oppression, and anti-capitalist activist and the co-author of The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation.