Polities come and go. They are not permanent arrangements. One surprising finding in the Polity of Literature inquiry is that, while literature may have been a polity for many different groups at different times, the economy and culture of publishing today is deeply anti-political. Literary publishing is sclerotic, hierarchical, and punishing. What polities of literature there were, are now largely gone. They come and they go. Michael Bronski had the unusual good fortune to come of age as a queer in the 1960s, when the literature around queer life was beginning to coalesce, as such, soon to be called “gay and lesbian literature.” Stonewall and after saw the rise of an overtly queer polity of literature that Bronski’s life wove through like a thread through a tapestry. Has it ended? Not Michael Bronski’s life (as this two-part entry in the Polity of Literature series will show), but a queer polity of literature, specifically in American publishing? In this searching, revealing memoir, written for our series, Michael Bronski recalls The Rise and Future of a Queer Polity of Literature. Today we publish the first half of Bronski’s memoir, to be followed in one week by the concluding half.
8 August, 2022