Through investigating three cultural archives spanning the last three decades, this dissertation elucidates the causes and dynamics of the sharp conservative turn in gay and lesbian politics in the United States beginning in the 1990s, as well as the significance of this conservative turn for present-day queer political projects. While many argue that growing supremacy of the ideology of neoliberalism is a root cause of such political reorientations, this hypothesis remains woefully inadequate. By examining queer activist AIDS art and its changing metaphors from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, and examining how battles over sexual orientation-inclusive non-discrimination law were felt and understood by citizen journalists working in the gay and lesbian press from the early 1990s to the early 2000s, this dissertation accounts for the nonconscious emergence of collective moods and shared minoritarian affects that have narrowed the queer political imagination. This research is informed by theoretical frameworks provided by Raymond Williams (structures of feeling), Deborah Gould (emotional habitus), Jonathan Flatley (affective mapping), and Jos Muoz (utopian longing), all of which foreground an analysis of affect as integral to an understanding of history, subjectivity, and the political. Lastly, this dissertation examines the work of Against Equality, a group I co-founded, as a site of resistance that reinvigorates and expands the queer political imagination in the present political moment.