chapter  18
19 Pages

The Diversity of Queer Politics and the Redefinition of Sexual Identity and Community in Urban Spaces

Gay, lesbian and bisexual activists have used numerous strategies for social and cultural change. The list of strategies is long, but includes ‘coming out’, Gay Pride Parades, demonstrations, forming gay/lesbian religious organisations, and electing progay or gay candidates. These strategies establish safe spaces, increase gay/lesbian/ bisexual political power, and change culture and institutions (e.g. religious organisations and political parties) through visibility and education. American gay politics has historically depended upon the establishment and use of residential territories (known as gay territories, gay ghettos or liberated zones) as a survival tactic, as the centre for the creation of a common identity, as a base for electoral power and as a main focus of gay politics and gay/lesbian studies in geography and sociology. The gay/lesbian studies literature reveals that gay neighbourhoods were seen as spaces for the creation of distinct gay identity (D’Emilio 1981; Escoffier 1985). With the creation of a gay identity, these neighbourhoods could be used as a tool in establishing gay men and lesbians as a minority group that deserved a separate voice in local government.