The assorted collection of bars, bathhouses, restaurants, clothing stores, community centres, sports clubs and professional offices provided gay movements and gay activists with a ready-made, concentrated constituency available for political and social organizing [in the 1970s]… (Nash 2005, 115)
The variety of places key to lgbtq life in the popular lgbtq imagination remains similar to the list described in geographer Catherine Nash’s quote regarding 1970s’ lesbian and gay spaces and places, as well as homes. The more recent additions include many virtual and online places, and, I add, places that many lgbtq people go to find connection or solace like a book or piece of music. There are also more temporary locations that many scholars refer to as “gay times” (Markwell 2002; see also Freeman 2000; 2005; 2010). Placed events are places without a permanent physical location but which are iterated in certain or certain types of locations, like the annual Dyke March down Fifth Avenue or traveling parties that rent or use space in gay men’s bars, church basements, dungeons, or community centers.
Contrary to the way that “place” is often thought of as fixed Cartesian coordinates, in practice, place is more processual than a static node, and it defines and is defined by social, cultural, economics, and political dynamics (see Pred 1984; Massey 1994). People’s relationships to place change over time, particularly as people age and are able to have more control of the production of places in their lives. These attachments to and memories of place contribute to forming their identities and navigating experiences, both just and unjust (see Altman and Low 1992; Hayden 1997; Casey 2000).
Our Discussion Questions
Are bars, the purported quintessential lgbtq place, still the hub of queer life? Bars and many of these public or for pay places close within a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer person’s lifetime–where does the essence of these places go? As increasing acceptance towards lgbtq people grows, many ask if these places are even important anymore–do you agree? As you reflect on these questions, remember that theory is divined from experience so share as much as you wish about you wish of your ideas and experiences to reflect on this.
*See the Further Recommended Readings for this week to see the citations for the works mentioned here.