chapter  5
16 Pages

The instrumentalization of sexual diversity in a civilizational frame of cosmopolitanism and tolerance


Sexual and cultural diversity is increasingly made an ally of capitalism. As the city has become a strategic site for economic growth and global competitiveness, tolerance to sexual and cultural diversity is seen by urban strategists as an index of a city’s financial success (Florida 2002). The promotion of sub-cultural spaces, such as ‘gay villages’ and ‘cultural quarters’, has become an important instrument to attract tourists, investors, businesses and creative people looking for jobs. Margit Mayer (2012: 76) notes that ‘[t]he new “creative” policies make use of (sub) cultural milieus in their branding strategies and harness them as location-specific assets in the intensifying interurban competition’. However, the instrumentalization of urban diversity, sexual diversity in particular, is not an issue of prosperity in a straightforwardly economic sense. Visible queer subcultures are made into desirable objects not only by reason of their market value, but also as markers of civilizational progress and justice, in opposition to non-progressive ‘others’. When sexual minorities’ rights and freedoms are taken as a measure of a country’s successful development and modernization, sexual diversity can be discursively deployed to mark a difference between civilized and non-civilized nations and internal minority populations – without tarring the ‘civilized’ status of the aggressor (Brown 2006; Donald et al. 2009; Puar 2007; Stella 2013).