Synopses & Reviews
Winner, 2014 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies
Since the 1970s, a key goal of lesbian and gay activists has been protection against street violence, especially in gay neighborhoods. During the same time, policymakers and private developers declared the containment of urban violence to be a top priority. In this important book, Christina B. Hanhardt examines how LGBT calls for andquot;safe spaceandquot; have been shaped by broader public safety initiatives that have sought solutions in policing and privatization and have had devastating effects along race and class lines.
Drawing on extensive archival and ethnographic research in New York City and San Francisco, Hanhardt traces the entwined histories of LGBT activism, urban development, and U.S. policy in relation to poverty and crime over the past fifty years. She highlights the formation of a mainstream LGBT movement, as well as the very different trajectories followed by radical LGBT and queer grassroots organizations. Placing LGBT activism in the context of shifting liberal and neoliberal policies, Safe Space is a groundbreaking exploration of the contradictory legacies of the LGBT struggle for safety in the city.
andquot;Safe Space is a pathbreaking book for the interdisciplinary fields of queer studies and American studies. Offering a trenchant account of the stakes of gay (and sometimes lesbian) claims to urban geographies, this carefully researched history unsettles many of the heroic assumptions driving the current politics of sexual identity in the United States. It will make a crucial intervention in a number of scholarly and activist debates.andquot;andmdash;Siobhan B. Somerville, author of Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture
andquot;A wonderful book that bursts through the usual boundaries of gay history. Christina B. Hanhardt weaves class, race, and sexuality tightly together in her urban history of the past fifty years and, in doing so, succeeds in upsetting much of the conventional wisdom about the gay movement and gay politics. Her analysis implicitly calls for the revival of a multi-issue, intersectional queer politics that challenges injustices of every sort and sees them all as linked.andquot;andmdash;John D'Emilio, author of The World Turned: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and Culture
andquot;Christina B. Hanhardt's brilliant book should be required reading for all those interested in how the LGBT movement's politics have come to reinforce racialized governance logics and control of economically and socially marginal populations.andquot;andmdash;Urvashi Vaid, author of Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics
andldquo;A commendable revision of the LGBT story in America. . . . A dramatic picture of a febrile movement that had a difficult relationship with its competitors. The book further excels by demonstrating this history through the experiences of LGBT people of color, transgender individuals, and immigrants. This rich analysis serves as a useful primer on why gay neighborhoods are at the epicenter of discussions about gentrification.andrdquo;
andldquo;The bookandrsquo;s extensive coverage of LGBT activism in the latter half of the 20th century illustrates how contemporary socio-legal gains were made possible by resistance-fuelled, political organising. What began as a gay backlash to victimisation soon became a platform for resistance to state violence. . . . Overall, this is a fascinating insight into lesser-known aspects of Americaandrsquo;s gay liberation movement.andrdquo;
andldquo;This is a deep and intriguing study of what neighborhood and safety have meantandmdash;and seemed to meanandmdash;to different facets of the gay community at different times in its development in the period following WWII. . . . While obviously written for an academic audience, Safe Space
will be accessible to most readers, and offers some insights into ways that gay spaces may not have been quite what we thought they were.andrdquo;
andquot;Hanhardt challenges commonly accepted narratives about safe streets, LGBT identity, and intersections of visibility and vulnerability. . . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.andquot;
andquot;Recommended both for its astute and never simplified analyses of social movements as well as its cautionarily optimistic political vision, Christina B. Hanhardtandrsquo;sand#160;Safe Spaceand#160;is a necessary and welcome contribution to the field of LGBT and Queer Studies.andquot;
andldquo;Scholars and academics studying urban spaces, as well as grassroots activists within and outside the LGBT community, should take note of Hanhardtandrsquo;s work. Her discussion of the emergence of LGBT activist claims to the protection of property and of self and the ways these protections became viewed as natural rights expected in American urban spaces helps illuminate not only specific transformations within urbanized LGBT populations in New York and San Francisco, but broader divisions which formed in liberal activist groups after the 1960s.andrdquo;
andldquo;Against the fractured landscape of cities characterized by uneven development, Safe Space is a clarion call for radicals to recognize the common deterrents facing all those working for more just cities. . . . Safe Space recognizes that claiming the city as an equitable space for all will require a broader understanding of identity, its use as a tool for development, and its latent potential as a site of resistance.andrdquo;
andldquo;Hanhardtandrsquo;s voice is that of an activist saddened, sometimes enraged, by how the potential for both equality and diversity was squandered by a middle-class white gay movement. Her book, then, is itself a moral intervention, one that combines social research and utopian politics.andrdquo;
A historical and ethnographic account of how LGBT activism for safe neighborhoods inadvertently dovetailed with and reinforced anticrime measures harmful to the poor and people of color.
About the Author
Christina B. Hanhardt is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Table of Contents
1. andquot;The White Ghettoandquot;: Sexual Deviancy, Police Accountability, and the 1960s War on Poverty 35
2. Butterflies, Whistles, and Fists: Safe Streets Patrols and Militant Gay Liberalism in the 1970s 81
3. andquot;Count the Contradictionsandquot;: Challenges to Gay Gentrification at the Start of the Reagan Era 117
4. Visibility and Victimization: Hate Crime Laws and the Geography of Punishment, 1980s and 1990s 155
5. andquot;Canaries of the Creative Ageandquot;: Queer Critiques of Risk and Real Estate in the Twenty-First Century 185
Appendix: Neighborhood Maps of New York and San Francisco 231