From neighborhoods as large as Chelsea or the Castro, to locales limited to a single club, like The Shamrock in Madison or Sidewinders in Albuquerque, gay areas are becoming normal. Straight people flood in. Gay people flee out. Scholars call this transformation assimilation, and some argue that we—gay and straight alike—are becoming “post-gay.” Jason Orne argues that rather than post-gay, America is becoming “post-queer,” losing the radical lessons of sex.
In Boystown, Orne takes readers on a detailed, lively journey through Chicago’s Boystown, which serves as a model for gayborhoods around the country. The neighborhood, he argues, has become an entertainment district—a gay Disneyland—where people get lost in the magic of the night and where straight white women can “go on safari.” In their original form, though, gayborhoods like this one don’t celebrate differences; they create them. By fostering a space outside the mainstream, gay spaces allow people to develop an alternative culture—a queer culture that celebrates sex.
Orne spent three years doing fieldwork in Boystown, searching for ways to ask new questions about the connective power of sex and about what it means to be not just gay, but queer. The result is the striking Boystown, illustrated throughout with street photography by Dylan Stuckey. In the dark backrooms of raunchy clubs where bachelorettes wouldn’t dare tread, people are hooking up and forging “naked intimacy.” Orne is your tour guide to the real Boystown, then, where sex functions as a vital center and an antidote to assimilation.
First published in 1993, the award-winning Cherry Grove, Fire Island tells the story of the extraordinary gay and lesbian resort community near New York City. This new paperback edition includes a new preface by the author.
Whether one thinks homosexuals are born or made, they generally are not born into gay families, nor are they socialized to be gay by their peers or schools. How then do people become aware of homosexuality and, in some cases, integrate into gay communities? The making of homosexual identity is the result of a communicative process that entails searching, listening, looking, reading, and finding. Contacts Desired proposes that this communicative process has a history, and it sets out to tell that story.
Martin Meeker here argues that over the course of the twentieth century, a series of important innovations occurred in the networks that linked individuals to a larger social knowledge of homosexuality. He points to three key innovations in particular: the emergence of the homophile movement in the 1950s; the mass media treatments of homosexuals in the late 1950s and early 1960s; and the popularization of do-it-yourself publishing from the late 1940s to the 1970s, which offered bar guides, handmade magazines, and other materials that gay men and lesbians could use to seek one another out. In the process, Meeker unearths a treasure trove of archival materials that reveals how homosexuals played a crucial role in transforming the very structure of communications and urban communities since the postwar era.
"Contacts Desired is a valuable and enduring work of scholarship, surely the best book in gay and lesbian history this year."--Gay and Lesbian Review
The Miss America pageant has been held in Atlantic City for the past hundred years, helping to promote the city as a tourist destination. But just a few streets away, the city hosts a smaller event that, in its own way, is equally vital to the local community: the Miss’d America drag pageant.
Drag Queens and Beauty Queens presents a vivid ethnography of the Miss’d America pageant and the gay neighborhood from which it emerged in the early 1990s as a moment of campy celebration in the midst of the AIDS crisis. It examines how the pageant strengthened community bonds and activism, as well as how it has changed now that Rupaul’s Drag Race has brought many of its practices into the cultural mainstream. Comparing the Miss’d America pageant with its glitzy cisgender big sister, anthropologist Laurie Greene discovers how the two pageants have influenced each other in unexpected ways.
Drag Queens and Beauty Queens deepens our understanding of how femininity is performed at pageants, exploring the various ways that both the Miss’d America and Miss America pageants have negotiated between embracing and critiquing traditional gender roles. Ultimately, it celebrates the rich tradition of drag performance and the community it engenders.
In Getting Medieval Carolyn Dinshaw examines communities—dissident and orthodox—in late-fourteenth and early-fifteenth-century England to create a new sense of queer history. Reaching beyond both medieval and queer studies, Dinshaw demonstrates in this challenging work how intellectual inquiry into pre-modern societies can contribute invaluably to current issues in cultural studies. In the process, she makes important connections between past and present cultures that until now have not been realized. In her pursuit of historical analyses that embrace the heterogeneity and indeterminacy of sex and sexuality, Dinshaw examines canonical Middle English texts such as the Canterbury Tales and TheBook of Margery Kempe. She examines polemics around the religious dissidents known as the Lollards as well as accounts of prostitutes in London to address questions of how particular sexual practices and identifications were normalized while others were proscribed. By exploring contemporary (mis)appropriations of medieval tropes in texts ranging from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction to recent Congressional debates on U.S. cultural production, Dinshaw demonstrates how such modern media can serve to reinforce constrictive heteronormative values and deny the multifarious nature of history. Finally, she works with and against the theories of Michel Foucault, Homi K. Bhabha, Roland Barthes, and John Boswell to show how deconstructionist impulses as well as historical perspectives can further an understanding of community in both pre- and postmodern societies. This long-anticipated volume will be indispensible to medieval and queer scholars and will be welcomed by a larger cultural studies audience.
In this book, Moira Kenney makes the case that Los Angeles better represents the spectrum of gay and lesbian community activism and culture than cities with a higher gay profile. Owing to its sprawling geography and fragmented politic, Los Angeles lacks a single enclave like the Castro in San Francisco or landmarks as prominent as the Stonewall in Greenwich Village, but it has a long and instructive history of community building.
By tracking the terrain of the movement since the beginnings of gay liberation in 1960s Los Angeles, Kenney shows how activists laid claim to streets, buildings, neighborhoods, and, in the example of West Hollywood, an entire city. Exploiting the area's lack of cohesion, they created a movement that maintained a remarkable flexibility and built support networks stretching from Venice Beach to East LA. Taking a different path from San Francisco and New York, gays and lesbians in Los Angeles emphasized social services, decentralized communities (usually within ethnic neighborhoods), and local as well as national politics. Kenney's grounded reading of this history celebrates the public and private forms of activism that shaped a visible and vibrant community.
With Pathways of Desire, Héctor Carrillo brings us into the lives of Mexican gay men who have left their home country to pursue greater sexual autonomy and sexual freedom in the United States. The groundbreaking ethnographic study brings our attention to the full arc of these men’s migration experiences, from their upbringing in Mexican cities and towns, to their cross-border journeys, to their incorporation into urban gay communities in American cities, and their sexual and romantic relationships with American men. These men’s diverse and fascinating stories demonstrate the intertwining of sexual, economic, and familial motivations for migration.
Further, Carrillo shows that sexual globalization must be regarded as a bidirectional, albeit uneven, process of exchange between countries in the global north and the global south. With this approach, Carrillo challenges the view that gay men from countries like Mexico would logically want to migrate to a “more sexually enlightened” country like the United States—a partial and limited understanding, given the dynamic character of sexuality in countries such as Mexico, which are becoming more accepting of sexual diversity. Pathways of Desire also provides a helpful analytical framework for the simultaneous consideration of structural and cultural factors in social scientific studies of sexuality. Carrillo explains the patterns of cross-cultural interaction that sexual migration generates and—at the most practical level—shows how the intricacies of cross-cultural sexual and romantic relations may affect the sexual health and HIV risk of transnational immigrant populations.
The Un-Natural State is a one-of-a-kind study of gay and lesbian life in Arkansas in the twentieth century, a deft weaving together of Arkansas history, dozens of oral histories, and Brock Thompson's own story. Thompson analyzes the meaning of rural drag shows, including a compelling description of a 1930s seasonal beauty pageant in Wilson, Arkansas, where white men in drag shared the stage with other white men in blackface, a suggestive mingling that went to the core of both racial transgression and sexual disobedience. These small town entertainments put on in churches and schools emerged decades later in gay bars across the state as a lucrative business practice and a larger means of community expression, while in the same period the state's sodomy law was rewritten to condemn sexual acts between those of the same sex in language similar to what was once used to denounce interracial sex. Thompson goes on to describe several lesbian communities established in the Ozark Mountains during the sixties and seventies and offers a substantial account of Eureka Springs's informal status as the "gay capital of the Ozarks." Through this exploration of identity formation, group articulation, political mobilization, and cultural visibility within the context of historical episodes such as the Second World War, the civil rights movement, and the AIDS epidemic, The Un-Natural State contributes not only to our understanding of gay and lesbian history but also to our understanding of the South.