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Public Sex/Gay Spaceby William L. Leap
Synopses & Reviews
"In an era of increasing sexual repression, attacks on radical sexual expression are being launched from all quarters: aging gay liberationists, a medical establishment mired in outmoded models, pandering right-wing politicians, and profiteering religious fanatics. So-called public sex is an easy target for the antisex, antipleasure opportunists. Given the limited corpus of scientific publications on fringe sexualities in general and public sex in particular, the essays in this volume are a welcome addition to the discourse on an understudied and poorly desribed phenomenon that is both ancient and widespread." Ralph Bolton, editor of The AIDS Pandemic
"Public Sex/Gay Space is an important collection. All the pieces raise honest, important, and uninhibited questions about the sex lives of many gay (and nongay) men. A colorful, insightful, and often original book." Roger N. Lancaster, author of Life is Hard
"At a time when the culture of men who have sex with men is under attack from all sides in the United States caricatured by politicians, sacrificed by gay assimilationists, scapegoated for AIDS despite its essential role in HIV prevention, neglected by the gay organizations this book brings much-needed light. It shows how little the reality of public sex conforms to the stereotype. It should be essential reading for journalists, politicians, and queers alike." Roger N. Lancaster, editor of Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory
Male homosexual activity in public and semipublic locations is a central but seldom explored dimension of gay culture around the world. The majority of existing research emphasizes the impersonality of such erotic interaction and underscores the element of danger involved. While never denying the danger of anonymous public sex in the age of AIDS, the contributors to Public Sex/Gay Space go beyond narrow moralisms about the need to regulate unsafe sexual practices to discuss the significance of sex in public. William Leap has brought together contributions from such fields as anthropology, sociology, literary criticism, and history to reinvigorate the discussion on this issue, with twelve essays providing a more nuanced portrait of why public sexual activity is such an integral part of gay culture. The authors present rich ethnographic snapshots of male sex in public places--many drawn from interviews with participants or, in some instances, the authors' personal experiences.Contributors investigate a broad cultural spectrum of gay sexual space and activity: in a public park in contemporary Hanoi, at the beachfront community of New York's Fire Island, and in nineteenth-century Amsterdam, for example. They explore issues such as visibility and secrecy, as well as economic status and social class, and interrogate the historical trajectories through which certain locations come to be favored sites for sexual encounters. Together, they offer insight into the ways in which public sex calls into question the very line that divides public from private.
< P> Twelve essays provide a nuanced portrait of why public sexual activity is such an integral part of gay culture. Contributors explore issues such as visibility and secrecy, as well as economic status and social class, and interrogate the historical trajectories through which certain locations come to be favored sites for sexual encounters.< /P>
About the Author
William L. Leap is professor of anthropology at The American University. He is the author of books including American Indian English and Word Is Out: Gay Men's English, and the editor of such works as Beyond the Lavender Lexicon: Authenticity, Representation, and Imagination in Lesbian and Gay Discourse.
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