Blog Prompt 3

Take a “field trip” into queer public space (you can interpret this however you want – talk to me if you  need ideas – you may write about The Out Hotel if you wish). You may want to visit a site that is important to queer collective memory (like the places mentioned in the readings for this week). You might instead want to visit a less well-known space (e.g. a gay bar in your hometown). What objects and behaviors do you observe in the space? Who is visible in the space? What is your own personal experience of moving through the space? How does what is happening in that space trouble normative categories of gender, sexuality, etc.?

Please post your response as a new comment here. In order to receive credit for this assignment, you must post by 8pm on Sunday, April 8th. You must also indicate who you are in your post (initials or a pseudonym are fine, as long as I can identify you to give you credit).

You are also encouraged to reply to other students’ comments if you find them enjoyable or thought-provoking.

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “Blog Prompt 3

  1. wbm228 says:

    For this response, I would like to talk a little bit about the gay nightlife scene in Lubbock, TX, my hometown. To start off, I would just like to give a little background on Lubbock. It’s a college town (Teas Tech University) located in the panhandle of Texas. It was ranked the most conservative city in the United States with a population over 200,000. That said, there is still a University, so there is a small population of progressive minds, but the gay community is nearly invisible due to the politics.

    The nightlife for gays consists of 2 separate clubs: Heaven and Luxor. Heaven is only gay on Thursdays and Saturdays and Luxor is gay on Fridays and Sundays so they don’t label themselves as “gay bars.” Both spaces present a bar area and a dance floor. Being the only “dance clubs” in Lubbock, they are the place to go for anyone who wants to dance. In addition to the setup, both bars have television screens around the dance floors and behind the bars. They often play gay porn previews the whole night even though the crowd tends to be a mix of LGBT and straight people. I think it’s a method they use to make gays feel like they’re in a safe place as homophobic people wouldn’t stand to see it. It is also a way that they sexualize the space as this is one of the only places in Lubbock that gays can be visible to one another.

    Another physical aspect of the space that I find really interesting are the bathrooms. As we read in Halberstam (correct me if I’m wrong), bathrooms are highly gendered spaces and pose a lot of problems. The bathrooms in these spaces are still marked for males and females, but they have been re-appropriated. Girls often enter the men’s restroom with their gay friends to hold the door, hold a drink, or skip the line in the girls restroom. Gay males also do the same thing with the women’s restroom. If they feel uncomfortable going into the men’s restroom they’ll make a trip with their girl friends and use the women’s restroom. I think this is the most queer aspect of the place as they trouble gender by throwing out the designated genders of the bathrooms. I suspect that on “straight nights” the bathrooms are more heavily patrolled and appropriated for the sex-assigned gender.

    The fact that these mixed spaces exist in such a conservative environment also creates a queer notion. On these nights, I have never been exposed to any gay bashing or anything inside the club, but there are always straight and queer people. They coexist for the purpose of being able to dance and have a good time. It allows for an understanding of different cultures in one space.

    Overall, I think gay spaces in conservative places differ greatly from metropolitan areas. NYC gay bars are usually full of only gays or only lesbians and there is a strict divide. Some places don’t even allow women to enter. Mixed bars allow for coexistence and acceptance and I find it strange that they are found in such a conservative place as Lubbock.

    • lauraportwoodstacer says:

      Great observations, Will. I especially like your comments about the “reappropriation” of the bathroom spaces, and how they get used contra the conventional gender binaries! And you’re right, it’d definitely be interesting to compare how the bathroom spaces are used differently on different nights.

  2. vcd210 says:

    Last Sunday I visited the Brooklyn Museum with some friends specially to see the Keith Haring exhibition. I knew very little about Keith Haring before I visited and only knew his name in connection with the iconic figures he drew that I had seen as prints and on various merchandise. At the museum I learned the complete history of Haring and viewed a retrospective of all of his work. Haring worked to express as much emotion and action as possible with the simplest of lines and colors. His goal was to display and distribute his art to groups of people he thought were typically excluded from galleries. He felt that it was the duty of the artist to bring their work to the public and that the audience gave the piece worth. Although Haring said that the meaning of his pieces was up to individual interpretation, he frequently used images of people, animals, especially dogs, and aliens. Having only been exposed to his more “main stream” works I was surprised to find that he had many pieces which explicitly referenced sex between men. Haring himself was openly gay and used his art work for social activism which is why he created antidrug and pro safe sex works as well.

    One of the places he regularly displayed his art was at Club 57 which was on St. Mark’s street. This club welcomed all people unlike traditional galleries. It was a home for punks, queers, and anyone who subverted main stream culture. Haring openly advertised when he displayed his work at the club by distributing fliers all around the village. He also made it a safe alternative space for other artists to display their work alongside his. Where he is most known for displaying his work by far, however, is in the New York City subway stations. He would cover advertisements on the walls with black paper and draw on them in white chalk. This, like most street art, is illegal and he was arrested for this several times but breaking the law was the only way he could reclaim this space for the public. As stated before, Haring sought to expose those who would not have otherwise been exposed to art and to represent them whereas they would not have been represented. These underrepresented people specifically included those of low socioeconomic status, people of color, and gays and lesbians. I submit then that by displaying his artwork in the subway Haring queered the space. Unlike public spaces like Club 57, the subway is not meant to bring together a community for socializing but is for purely practical purposes. It is a place where people from all walks of life are brought together but those considered outside of the mainstream may still be invisible. Haring’s works allowed a community of societal subversives to form around his art by recognizing their existence and forcing others to recognize it as well.

    Since the addition of his art in the subway successful transformed the subway into a queer space it should follow that any space his works are displayed are similarly queered. However, I would argue that his subway works did not automatically queer the gallery of the Brooklyn Museum just by being hung there. The biggest difference between the spaces is that in the subway, Haring was bringing his art to the public and in the museum the audience had to go to the art. Although the admission for the museum was on a donation basis and so there is the potential for anyone to go, I found that the vast majority of people I saw there were either young adults like me or older adults with their young children. It was apparent that he people there were already familiar with Haring’s works and were seeing them for pleasure or to teach their children about him. Everyone displayed proper etiquette by moving slowly, talking very quietly, and generally passively experiencing the art. The works displayed may have troubled gender and sexuality but no one viewing them seemed to be surprised or troubled by this. One of my friends I went with is a trans man who had an run in with one of the employees in the gallery. He was sitting in a chair with his feet up and an employee walked across the room to tell him not to put his feet on the furniture. First the employee addressed him correctly as sir but then when he got closer he apologized and addressed him as ma’am. My friend then corrected him, that he was indeed a sir, to which the employee looked extremely embarrassed and hurried away. It was an unfortunate incident for both of them and I thought it exceptionally interesting to have occurred while we were in Keith Haring’s world.

    I’m very curious if anyone else in the class seen this exhibition? What did you think of it and of my interpretation? Do you think art really have these transformative powers or am I giving it too much credit?

    • lauraportwoodstacer says:

      Interesting argument about street art having the potential to queer the space of the subway… shows the links between queerness and transgression. Great point that context matters and the same piece of art might have different meanings when hung in a gallery for an art-seeking audience than when put in the faces of subway commuters.

  3. lailleymansouri says:

    The Out Hotel

    At first glance, the Out Hotel is modern, sleek, advanced. While the hotel does boast a popular gay club, it is tucked away and barely noticeable, attracting the young without offending the old. The staff is predominantly male and can be described as “Chelsea Clones” mentioned in Global Divas. Regardless of their ethnic diversity, the men who work at the Out are well put-together, good-looking, and groomed. The advanced spa/sauna area with its organic products is proof that the Out’s guests are socially conscious and are concerned with their physical appearance. Despite its modern décor and amenities, the Out Hotel was clearly designed as a fun, inclusive establishment. At the time of our visit, the Out Hotel was not at full occupancy. The guests seemed to keep to themselves, though some could be seen in the XL nightclub. Those who were celebrating Happy Hour appeared affluent, Caucasian, and middle-aged. The Out Hotel appeared modern and sleek but its lounge areas and spa create an air of tranquility for the guests. The Out does not assume any heteronormative views on sexuality or gender which is arguably the most welcoming feature of the hotel. The assumption that two men checking into a room would need one bed is not even present in “gay-friendly” hotels. The XL also toys with traditional normative categories by holding Cabaret nights. Cabaret, a gay niche in itself, is a way for the Out’s performers and guests to act out and enjoy camp. The Out Hotel is an inclusive hotel that prides itself on being straight-friendly so as to not alienate any of their guests. One of my favorite features of the hotel was that couples, gay or straight, could hold their weddings there. The inclusive nature of the hotel, the modern décor, and the tranquil environment make the Out Hotel an interesting gay space. Although renting a boutique hotel room is grossly expensive, the Out Hotel tries to resolve class problems by providing cheaper hostel-type rooms. Nonetheless, it is hard to believe that those who frequented Vaseline Alley in Global Divas would be able to frequent a hotel like the Out. Perhaps queer pride can grow if more queers could visit establishments with the same inclusive and accepting nature of the Out Hotel.

    Lailley Mansouri

    • lauraportwoodstacer says:

      It’s interesting that you describe The Out as a “gay space” but not as a “queer space.” Do you think there’s a difference between the two, and was this intentional on your part?

      • lailleymansouri says:

        I apologize for the late reply, I just saw this message today. I think there’s a definite difference between “gay” and “queer,” similar to the old square-rectangle saying. However, I do believe that while the Out is accepting of all people, queer and straight alike, the hotel’s target audience appeared to be gay men. All the employees in charge of welcoming guests were men as were the employees at the XL lounge. The Out is also located in Hell’s Kitchen, an area that’s commonly described as a “gay” district instead of a “queer” one. I’ve only been in Hell’s Kitchen 10 times or so but the plethora of male-specific boutiques and the few, if any, lesbian couples I’ve seen on the street led me to believe that HK is a predominantly male area. Most people tend to book a hotel room close to the area they will most be frequenting. If this holds true, then it is no surprise that the Out is more gay-centered than it leads on. While the Out is straight-friendly and prides itself on being a hotel accepting of all people, I do believe that it is male-centered.

  4. I’d like to specifically discuss the XL lounge and nightclub. When we first arrived, we found ourselves in the lounge. Overall the lounge was attractive, clean, and seemed pretty comfortable. It was an off hour for the bar (ie it wasn’t nighttime or the weekend) so it wasn’t very crowded. There were a few couples seated around the bar being served by a hunky bartender. Because there weren’t very many people there at the time, it may be difficult to draw solid conclusions about the “regulars” at XL. However, the men that we observed were seemingly all white, middle aged, and well dressed. The lounge had a luxurious ambiance and I’m sure the prices of drinks at the bar would follow accordingly. Especially based on its relationship to The Out, XL likely tailors to gay tourists and business travelers, providing a place for them to mingle with each other and local gay business men working in midtown.

    The nightclub exudes the same sense of luxury as the lounge. The space is dynamic and accommodates everything from danceclub parties, to jazz club themed events, and drag shows. If any sense of queerness can be detected at XL it may be in the diverse event lineup at the club. The range of events may appeal to entirely different queer crowds. However since XL is ultimately a highend club, economic factors fundamentally exclude certain types of people and limit precisely “how queer” the club can be.

    In a sense, this characterization of XL can be applied to my overall perception of The Out. While the space is welcoming and may accomodate for gender and sexually queer people through its “straight-friendly” approach,  it is ultimately a business. While it does offer relatively inexpensive packages, most of its services are not cheap and therefore they must target a specific type of people. It would be interesting to check out The Out again in a few months to see how business progresses (along with another visit to XL once I turn 21…. I still can’t get over that bathroom).

    On that note, I wanted to ask what people thought of it. Did you think the layout of the genderless bathroom contributed or took away from the queerness of XL? 

    • lauraportwoodstacer says:

      Great point about economic/class limitations. And yes, you’ll have to report back on what the bathroom is like when full of people (and once you’re 21 of course)!

  5. The Squeeze Juice says:

    Emma Goldman said, “If there won’t be dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming.” No offense to Emma G., but I hold that gay men revolutionize (or refashion) space in dance-less places: the streets. In particular, the corner of Second Avenue and East Fourth Street in the East Village deserves attention as a site where gay male identity is articulated and gay male community is imagined. Three noteworthy topographical features contribute to the visible queerness and “cruise-iness” of this intersection.
    1. Gay “hub” bars (The Boiler Room and Queen Vic) attract locals, veterans, and youngsters. The Boiler Room, an “old-school” gay bar with a pool table, jukebox, and $3.50 house liquor, may be the sine qua non of gay bar hopping in the East Village. Inside, men in their twenties commingle with men in their fifties or sixties; through affectionate, Platonic interactions, gay men of divergent age groups relate to one another on the basis of their shared experience of queerness. Whereas racial or socioeconomic minorities are integrated into family structures (e.g. black children have black parents, low-income children have low-income parents), the sexual minority of queerness is detached from kinship ties. Thus, in an intuitive attempt to reconstruct this supportive familial structure, gay relations often echo blood ties: gay father-and-son dynamics between young and old men (as in the Boiler Room), gay brotherhood resonances between gay men (e.g. the gaggles of gays, or gaygles, which I’ll get to next), and gay brother-and-sister sentiments between gay men and lesbians (who, curiously, are somewhat absent from the Boiler Room during busy evenings). Perhaps a familial-type connection also forms between gay and trans people?
    Outside, the Boiler Room is a revolving door of young gay men smoking cigarettes, talking, laughing, sitting on the ground, hiding beer in their coats, talking on the phone to someone who is lost, and – on occasion – participating in elicit activity behind conveniently placed concrete walls that jut out of the street’s buildings (really, though, who put those there?). On one hand, the Boiler Room is a safe haven for loners, where a generally laid-back atmosphere (save on busy weekends) and cheap booze is perfect for an evening of contemplation, people-watching, and feeling part of a visible community. Thus, outside, men often stand alone, dragging on cigarettes or starting conversation with strangers. Still, the just-outside-the-door and sidewalk space is dominated by small clusters of gay men [otherwise known as a “gaggle of gays” (James Lipton’s term – just kidding) or a “gaygle” (my term – not kidding)]. Ranging from two to six, these groups tend to stand in literal circles and talk drunkenly: a little cliquey, yes, but also somewhat instinctual, comradely, brotherly.
    Traffic outside the Boiler Room pours next door to Queen Vic, a super-gay-friendly restaurant/bar (Got Big Gay Pride Flag in the Window?) with a tacky-but-glorious British theme. The Boiler Room faces 4th street, while Queen Vic sits on the corner (of 4th street & 2nd avenue) and faces Second Avenue; on weekends, gay men wrap around the entire corner, socializing, cruising, and occupying public space. Underage gays tend to spend time at Queen Vic, which is predominately a restaurant and therefore open to all age groups, and linger outside in the wrap-around cruising area. A gay couple in the neighborhood owns both Queen Vic and Boiler Room; they have single-handedly made a space for gay men of varied experiences to gather and articulate their identity, claim ground as their own, and create the dynamics and behaviors that define their own subculture.
    2. East fourth street between Second Street and Bowery is a miniature theater district; between La MaMa and New York Theater Workshop, there are at least seven different performance spaces on this small block alone. Needless to say, gay men who enjoy theater often wander to the nearby intersection to grab a cab, stop by Boiler Room for a cheap drink, or head downtown to the just-above-Houston bars.
    3. Two block South, on Second Ave and East Second Street, The Urge and The Cock make up the just-above-Houston bars; as I am currently unable to formulate a politically correct way to describe these bars, I will herein include their tags on Google Map: (The Cock) “dive bars · penis · rooster · russian · truth” and (The Urge) ” new york times · master of styles · lounge bar ·bartenders · drag show.” Traffic from these bars trickles both downtown en route to Lower East Side bars and uptown en route to East Village gay bars (e.g. Eastern Bloc at 6th and A) or drunk food (e.g. Pomme Frites or San Loco, both open until 3 AM or later on weekends). This trickling further diversifies the crowd at 4th street and 2nd avenue: typically, gay men in their thirties, who are knee-deep in the gay male bar scene, emerge from The Urge and The Cock and claim space along Second Avenue.
    Curiously, the Fourth-and-Second intersection also hosts two very-straight sports bars: Dempsey’s and Stillwater. Although gay men are allowed into these bars, just as straight men are allowed into Boiler Room (although maybe not into The Urge or The Cock), the crowds tend to remain sexually segregated. The intersection, conversely, offers an opportunity for interaction: straight people can see gay men “in action” (i.e. boldly expressing and articulating their identity.) As New Yorkers are famously “liberal” (I despise the word “tolerant”) and tend to look upon the gay male scene as a novelty of their noteworthy city, the interactions remain, for the most part, wholly peaceful; typically, the most violent passer-bys are drunk girls screaming (and I mean SCREAMING) at their boyfriends. Still, I wonder what about the effects of this straight/gay segregation: does it forcefully perpetuate a hetero-homo binary? Does the lack of gay women at The Boiler Room suggest a gap in the community that needs to be filled? To what extent to gay men and women benefit from imagining a community in the same space (especially in light of the brother-sister notion?

    This was a really long post! I have a lot of feelings!

    -Jonathan Pace

    • lauraportwoodstacer says:

      Your observations here are a pleasure to read! You make some great points about age, generation, and kinship, which I wish we’d gotten more time to explore in class. And re: “gaygle” – as we’ve seen in our readings, coining new words is a hallmark of queer theory, so nice job. 😉

  6. This past Wednesday, I was on assignment for TV Guide Magazine and had to leave class early to cover the 2012 Bravo TV Upfronts, the event the network (and all other major networks) holds each spring to preview summer programming and to appeal to potential advertisers. This being an important event for the network’s visibility and financial future, the network trotted out most of the prominent “Bravolebrities”–most of the Housewives, Bethenny Frankel, the judges from Top Chef, Andy Cohen–for press interviews and countless photo opportunities on the Blue Carpet, the impossibly cramped press space on the fourth floor of a west side gallery.

    It is quite clear that Bravo as a brand markets to and appeals to, primarily, women and gay men. Indeed, most of the people reporting from the event were women or gay men, and most of the personalities featured on Bravo shows are either–you guessed it–women or gay men. Much of the inherent discourse between reporters and celebrities was about style tips (lots of style publication reporters were in attendance), with everyone from Caroline Manzo to Brad Goreski answering InStyle’s repeated question of whether or not Jen Aniston should change her style (I think as a society we’re past asking that question, but I digress). Yet while I had this intense experience of a space extensively populated by gay men (by design as well as coincidence), I found the Bravo Upfronts not to be a “queer space” in the slightest. No reporters and certainly none of the personalities that I saw who identified as gay challenged any sort of heteronormative idea of homosexuality; all the gay men I spoke to during the night perpetuated the characteristics represented all too often by run-of-the-mill, stereotypical gay characters on scripted television: well-dressed and coiffed, slightly effeminate, bombastic, and inherently funny.

    In addition to Bravo’s ineffectiveness in troubling normative sexuality (even in its reputation as a “gay” network), it’s interesting to note that the sort of gay characters that are given so much visibility on the network’s “unscripted reality” programming are in fact the same sorts of gay characters that come under fire for being “stereotypical” on scripted network programming. According to an interview I conducted with “Flipping Out”‘s Jeff Lewis, he was very upset about the last season of his show, because Bravo ended up making many of the decisions concerning the show without his opinion or approval; how much of the creation and presentation of these un-troubling and “palatable” gay characters Bravo’s own internal doing? Whether or not Bravo controls factors like these, one thing is clear: Bravo may be a “gay” network, but it is by no means “queer.”

  7. Morgan N. says:

    The Out hotel holds the distinction of being the only straight friendly Hotel in New York City, but with that title comes a need to define their space as something other than the heterosexual norm. And While The Out claims to be a space marketed to all LGBT individuals, during our tour I felt that only a certain type of queer identity was being promoted, specifically that of the gay male. This stereotype was perpetuated in both the objects and people in the space. The bathroom in Club XL is the perfect example of how the gay male was favored. By putting only urinals on the top floor of the club’s restroom and placing the stalls down below, the Club was literally putting the men’s needs above the females. This idea of the gay male being the ideal clientele was also visible in who I saw as we navigated the space. The staff that was bar tending, working the front desk, and those whom we just happened to pass in the hallways, were all very attractive (and presumably gay) men. I do not recall seeing a single Female who was not acting in a behind the scenes role (i.e. in housekeeping), much less seeing any other aspect of the LGBT community represented. Again, The Out seemed to be interested only in attracting gay men to its space, both by the ways they favored them in the physical layout and in the aesthetics of their staff members.
    This made me, someone who identifies as a lesbian, feel a bit uncomfortable negotiating the hotel. Although I would love to stay at The Out, I felt as though if I did I would be the only female in a sea full of stereotypical attractive and well-off gay men. As we discussed in class Lesbians often do not have the same amount of social spaces (be they bars, or apparently even hotels), as their male counterparts, and that was a clear vibe I got while visiting The Out. I thought this was exceptionally interesting because I have spent time at another famous New York gay space, Fire Island, in the past. While there I never felt that gay men were marketed too more than gay women, and compared to The Out it feels much more like an example of a truly queer space. I suppose the point I am trying is that while The Out does trouble the heteronormative idea that everyone we interact with is sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex, it does not do so in a way that truly feels inclusive of all queer identities.

  8. kmb471 says:

    My girlfriend is going to be 30 in August and she works six days a week. I am a 21 year-old college senior who sometimes makes it to her classes 2 days a week. So when she told me she wanted to take the train into the city after work and go to Henrietta’s last Saturday night, I was surprised to say the least. Lauren is done with her club days, and I can respect that but I know she still has a special place in her heart for lesbian bars like Henrietta’s because there are so few spaces we can inhabit that are allocated primarily for lesbians. If you’ve been to a gay club, you know it is just that. Gay..not very L, B, or T. But whatever, we co-exist in these spaces because we know we can still be ourselves without being judged. Everyone knows that if there were more spaces for lesbians, they would meet one night, fall in love, and spend the rest of their Saturday nights choosing names for their cats and adding items to their civil union registry at Ikea. Because that’s what we do.

    It’s almost as if lesbians are a counter public within a counter public because we have to assimilate ourselves into the gay culture trying to assimilate themselves into the straight one. Lesbians, as it goes, are much less of a commodity when it comes to the nightlife scene and therefore there are many less public places in which we can meet up and be ourselves. The few clubs that do exist usually end up closing down or gradually becoming gay clubs that are lesbian-friendly. Nightlife has become more appropriated and marketing toward gay men because they have been portrayed as a whole group who like to go out, get wasted, and hook up (whereas the lesbian narrative diverges shortly after “coming out.”)

    Henrietta’s on a Saturday night is a place not like many others in this world. The space is so tiny and it is so crowded with all types of girls (butch, femme, and in between) because it is one of maybe 3 lesbian bars in Manhattan. Unlike gay clubs, the bouncers are hesitant to let in too many gay men because this is a space predominantly for women. The bathrooms entertain only one girl at a time, and from what I hear, Henrietta’s is pretty strict on this rule in order to keep the line from the bathroom from winding up on the dance floor because Henrietta’s is a small enough place to begin with. But girls from all over the tri-state area will put up with long bathroom lines, overpriced cover charges and drinks, and sometimes crappy music selection in order to go out and not feel like you’re being stared at for holding hands or punished for kissing your girlfriend in public. Gay clubs are tolerant and non-judgmental of lesbians but for the most part, lesbian women can still feel outnumbered and out of place in these clubs.

    In the past, it used to be that two men in a relationship were considered to be more well-off and had more money to spend on a night out whereas two women, as a couple, were probably not making as much money combined and therefore had less disposable income to expend on a night out. I don’t feel as though this is the case anymore. There certainly was no shortage of women buying drinks for other women at Henrietta’s that night. I think that lesbians can relate to the idea that Mary Gray talked about in her essay about queer people living in rural American not having the privilege of being able to go out and find community in their local bars and having to travel long distances to find a place where they feel welcomed. The only other girls in the local gay bars near us in New Jersey are drag queens. For these reasons, I think that lesbians work to challenge the typical homonormative narrative by spreading out and creating their own spaces in which to experience nightlife and feel apart of a community instead of just being tolerated.

  9. roxannedyer says:

    Over winter break, I accidentally wandered into a queer public space in my home state. It was a beautiful January day in Hawaii and I was spending some time with family who live on a different island. I decided to go to the beach with my cousin. Being unfamiliar with the area, I parked my car in the first spot I could find and started walking along Waikiki beach for an open patch of sand. I eventually came across a suitable area and made camp there for the day. My cousin joined me after I had settled. She looked around me and asked “Why are you at the gay beach?”

    Waikiki Beach is a mostly tourist area with dozens of hotels, expensive shops, and exclusive beaches spread out along its length. It is very easy to travel between each of the sections since they are all connected by a single avenue. The beach that I had stumbled upon was near the east end of Waikiki and I found out later that it was called Queens Beach. Just up the road from the sand is a very popular gay bar. The beach itself is perfect for lying in the sun, but the coral and rocks in the shallow parts of the ocean make it very difficult to swim.

    At Queens Beach, it’s very easy to be visible. Many of the visitors that day chose to lie out on the beach. Most of the visitors were men in groups of three or more, or single men. There were also some male couples. My cousin and I were in the female minority. There were also a lot of tourists and locals passing through the beach to travel to other parts of Waikiki. Because of this there was a very diverse visible public in attendance that day.

    There are a lot of reasons that Queens Beach might not be identified as a queer public space. At first glance there doesn’t seem to be a political purpose behind the actions of the visitors. After all, it is a beach. However, the fact that there is a queer beach in the midst of Hawaii’s tourist capital is very interesting. I don’t know any of the specific history of this beach, but it seems similar to the activist practices of the queer nation, specifically taking up space in high visibility locations of capitalism. It’s also quite interesting that an outsider (like me) wouldn’t know that Queens Beach is a gay beach, which is a similar quality in the queer publics described by Polchin.
    RKD

  10. During our class field trip we visited the Out Hotel, which is located in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. My own experience of visiting the hotel was very enjoyable. I found the decor of the building to be very stylish and the staff were all extremely friendly. The various locations that we were able to see on our tour were impressive and after what I saw I wanted to book a room. While the hotel was not officially open to the public, I did observe a few guests and most of them kept to themselves. This surprised me after hearing our tour guide explain that the many green spaces were built as sites for socialization. However, the fact that I saw no guests socializing probably has to do with the fact that the hotel was not officially open.

    I feel that the Out Hotel is able to successfully trouble normative categories of sexuality through their straight-friendly policy. Rather than assuming heteronormative sexual categories, the Out Hotel assumes that all guests are gay. This is an excellent policy because it allows the guests to feel far more accepted and welcomed than they would at any other hotel, where being straight is assumed.

    The one aspect of the Out Hotel that I felt needed to be commented on was the separation of the sleep shares from the rest of the hotel. Clearly, this separation made the guests who could not afford the suites less visible to those who had paid for the more expensive rooms. This clear separation seems to suggest a hierarchy for guest behavior. As many in our class suspected, I also believe that the sleep share rooms are meant to facilitate the hook-up process. This separation reminds me of our reading from the past week since many of the authors expressed anger at the decision to remove or ignore the sexualized aspects of the gay community by the gay community.

    Ultimately, I think the Out Hotel is an excellent establishment for the LGBT community, but I think there are some features that need to be rethought in order for the hotel to be more inclusive for all of its guests.

    Melissa Ynegas

  11. kareenabirafeh says:

    Kareen Abi Rafeh
    04.08.2012

    Not too long ago I went to two gay bars, The Cock and The Urge, in the East Village both on 2nd and 2nd. Despite how challenging it was to get into both bars, it was a lot of fun. I went to these bars with my older cousin and his boyfriend, who are regulars, and felt a little, actually very out of place. Both bars were very “sexually explicit” and I was one very few females there. The Urge was a lounge, dressed-up, and very luxurious. Everyone was very well dressed flirty, sipping on drinks while gay porn played on multiple flat screens. Gay, young, very fabulous men are visible. I would describe it as soft-core version of a dance club scene is Queer as Folk. It seemed like a very commoditized environment. It challenges norms of sexuality by pushing the boundaries of what was traditionally characterized as private sexual behavior and made it public by displaying so much porn on the walls and dancers going around. The Cock was a lot more like a dive bar, very fun and grungy (in a very good way). Men were walking around with close to nothing on grinding on tables and there was a drag show about to start as I we were getting to leave. A flood of drag queens had started to walk in; it was a very exciting environment. More “fluid” personalities were visible. Gay men, men in drag and transgendered males all socialized in a much more relaxed environment than in Urge that didn’t force sexuality but fostered it—if that makes sense. The cocked troubled the identity of what I would think a “traditional” gay bar to be. It was a really great environment because it challenged my perceptions of a queer space. And it made me consider the idea of a queer space as an image vs. it as an identity.

  12. sef333 says:

    On 14th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues, a queer public has been created. On this block, there are numerous bars that help to create an active nightlife scene. Among these bars there are a couple venues that are known to cater to a gay male audience, specifically, Nowhere. While I’ve never been inside the bar, I’d like to talk about the area around it. It has definitely been repurposed as a queer space and on most nights branches out into the sidewalk around it. On an average night, the space between 1st and 2nd is full of men chatting and waiting around. While this bar is predominantly for gay males there are a always a couple of females loitering around this section of 14th street too. Most of these men are the heteronormative kinds of gay men that we can see on Logo programs, they’re well groomed and attractive, and have enough money and leisure time to go to a club in Manhattan on a Friday night. What the presence of these men does is make this section of public space queer.

    By spending time outside the club, they add themselves to the mental list of “non-threats” of the majority of females that pass by. These men, whether or not they know it, have changed the dynamic of a regularly, decently shady street. While bars like Nowhere are closed, this East section of 14th street becomes less crowded than the main sections; it is common to find women walking briskly by while men cat-call, whistle or lunge to make inappropriate gestures. What I’ve noticed, and asked some friends about, is that young women usually feel safer walking down 14th street after Nowhere has opened.
    The men outside the club are usually perceived as possible witnesses, or safety zones. Women do not feel as at risk of being objectified or targeted in front of Nowhere. The presence of the gay men seems to create a buffer zone to many of the outsiders, it is not that they themselves are queering the space but the reaction of those around them and how others interact with the space makes it queer.

    Personally, I once met a friend at the corner of 14th and 1st, a little further East than Nowhere. I was early and it was fairly dark out when I got there. While waiting I noticed a two men in the corner store had been pointing at me and once they noticed I’d seen them they started saying fairly nasty things and making generally inappropriate statements. I called my friend to find out how much longer she would be and someone behind me, at Nowhere, recognized my voice. Luckily, a friend at the club had heard me on the phone and pulled me towards the club to wait outside with him. At first the two men followed, but when they realized where we were stopping they went back to the corner. To me, it seems that spaces like Nowhere occupy enough of the public space to create a sexual objectification buffer zone where straight men do not feel comfortable being outwardly sexual.

    -Sophie

  13. shapironoah says:

    I live in Jamaica Plain, ma which has become known in Boston as a queer space. There is both a gay and lesbian community there but the lesbian one is more prominent. The gay community in Boston is more in the South End or the Bay village (also called the Gay village). The gay community in JP can be mixed up and confused with the hipster community that also resides in JP.

    What I like about JP is the Lesbian space there. Less often are the openly lesbian spaces but instead they are sparsely sprinkled throughout the gay ones. JP is a very eclectic community made up also of a large Latino community, hipster community, and recently a yuppie community. Even with all these groups living side by side, there doesn’t seem to be much animosity between everyone. Yes, more and more JP gangs have been popping up and there have been incidences around town, but these aren’t caused because of the openness of JP.

    There is a high possibility that when you ask someone about there family in JP, they will tell you they have two moms or two dads. This is definitely plays with the normativity but no one seems to have a problem with it. This is probably because of JP’s large hippie (or hipster) community that already goes against the norm.

    JP is a very open space and has a very visible queer commmunity that doesn’t need to hide or feel threatened in any way. Going up there has allowed me to be witness to the many options of sexuality and queers.

    -Noah Shapiro

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: