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Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

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Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby Aum » Tue Apr 23, 18:08 2013

The weather has gotten nice in my city and I've been spending a lot more time walking around, taking in the sites, and observing the world around me. One thing that is sticking out to me more now than ever is queer culture. There are a lot of young, queer men and women walking around wearing very fashionable clothing, with designer dogs, and just generally appearing privileged. Most of them are white.

For the first time, I am really bothered by this. I have this terrible gut feeling that the ability to be out of the closet and queer comes attached to the privilege of having the financial resources to live in the core of a city, in the seat of local high culture. It seems like the proportion of out individuals in the city is way higher, creating the false illusion that there are way more of us than there otherwise would be, and this is because those queer people who can afford it are literally cramming into the city, no matter what the price, because it is being treated as a safety zone for outness. Once I leave the city and travel to the suburbs or small towns, you hardly ever see anything or anyone visibly queer. The suburbs near me are associated with families, minorities, and poverty, and I can't shake this feeling that in order to be included in any kind of queer culture, you have to struggle to make it to the city. If you can't afford it, then you can't participate.

I remember in Anita Sarkeesian's analysis of the Hunger Games movie, she blasted it for portraying queer culture as restricted to the bourgeoise only. I agree with her, but I think it's an actual reality in the non-fictional world... and for the first time in my life, I am feeling really depressed about it because of how it is limiting my choices as a queer man.

Every queer guy I have dated who is from a smaller place proclaimed that he got the hell out of there a.s.a.p because it was backward, discriminatory, there were no dating opportunities, and it was boring. This issue is very near and dear to me right now because I am increasingly unhappy in the city. Aside from being unfairly expensive, I don't find it peaceful anymore. I'm having the urge to move to a smaller town where I can enjoy nature, a closer knit community, and maybe even partake in some small scale farming. My main fear though is being cut off from queer culture. My straight friends who are also thinking about moving have no qualms about this, because they can find potential partners anywhere; they don't seem to understand my dilemma of ending up somewhere I could potentially be single for the rest of my life, with no partnering opportunities.

Those lack of opportunities have been problematic when I travel in general. Every place I go to, I have to consider what their laws are about queer people. I was about to relocate to Belize for half a year until I discovered that homosexual acts carry a 10 year prison sentence. In my own country, such laws don't exist, but the prohibitive discriminatory culture still does, and so this affects my living opportunities. I wish my straight friends could really appreciate this. They think I'm being closed minded, but I'm not. There are smaller places where I could literally become a pariah if I'm not careful, especially given that I am also a self-employed small business and my reputation matters.

So given that, my other question is: are queer people forever destined to be forced to live in cities if they want visibility, relatable culture, and inclusiveness? If I want to hold my male partner's hand walking down the street, should I expect to only be able to do this safely in the "safe haven" of queer cultured cities?

Even worse, is the acceptance of queer people based strictly on these liberal cities? Because it seems like everywhere else, we are still barely tolerated, or even hated.

I don't have the educational background to fully express my entire view on this, but I'm hoping some of you do...
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Re: Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby rowan » Tue Apr 23, 21:25 2013

This is totally just my perception, but I think...it's getting better? Maybe smaller cities, or a different city? But there's a lot of queer-hating in the countryside here too, I'm afraid. :( Is it possible that it's just your city? I don't think my queer friends are especially ...frou frou? (that seems to be kind of what you're describing, with the dogs) I know some friends in smaller cities who are perfectly happy though. And there could be edges, if you wanted to do farming I think there are places outside of here that are more welcoming, because they're close enough to be influenced by the culture here. But you have to be careful the direction, lke, I wouldn't recommend nearby communities that are to the N and W of here, but to the E there are some, and to the SW. Y'know? Trouble is finding out before you move can be super hard. :(

But as a general blanket statement I do think that smaller communities tend to be less tolerant of any kind of "other" people.
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Re: Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby Anonguy » Wed Apr 24, 3:13 2013

I have no idea. Being as privileged as I am, such matters would be lost on me for the most part. I do however listen and watch others pretty well.

I know this one guy who lives in the same small town I do make a comment about needed to get out before he was turned "prison straight".
I also know a wonderful women who had a new girlfriend almost every week.
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Re: Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby Aum » Thu Apr 25, 21:29 2013

It's unfortunate that this topic is getting such little attention.

Oh well...
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Re: Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby cwbyrvr » Thu Apr 25, 21:41 2013

I don't really have anything to say about it personally. I am queer identified but I live in an exceptionally low income area. I have no experience with the topic at hand. I'm in what's probably the queerest city in my (very conservative) state, and even in this area I've noticed plenty of outwardly queer looking people, but I can't say they look all that privileged.

Edit: To be clear, there are for sure privileged white hipster queer kids in this city, I just don't live in an area where I see or interact with them. If I had the money to go downtown it'd be a different story.
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Re: Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby Hannah30 » Thu Apr 25, 22:34 2013

I think you may be equating queer with hipster?
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Re: Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby rowan » Fri Apr 26, 9:45 2013

Uh, no, I'm pretty sure that Aum is talking about the queer culture in his city. Which I'm 100% certain* he knows more about than you do.

I wish I had some better thoughts, Aum, other than maybe it's just your specific city?


*since I am a scientist it's very hard for me to say 100% confidence, but in this case I can.
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Re: Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby Sonic# » Fri Apr 26, 11:30 2013

Where I live, it depends on the area of the city. As a somewhat liberal bastion in a deeply conservative area, I don't see very many obvious same-sex couples, let alone those who are privileged to be visible. There are certainly fairly affluent couples out there tending to live in the more affluent parts of the city who have the social and economic privilege Aum mentions, but there're also a lot of people who don't live that life style, for whom living in the city isn't a posh choice but is rather a choice done for work, or alternatively a result of not being able to afford to leave the city. So I agree that there are still some pretty hindering limits on what homosexuals can do; I would just add that some of that exclusion often happens in the cities, where many people are still invisible or at least less open.

I have no answer about whether acceptance will continue to cluster around a city.
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Re: Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby monk » Sat Apr 27, 14:35 2013

Having traveled by road extensively around the Western U.S. I can say that there are rural communities that are queer friendly. I've come across them in Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, California, Nevada & Wyoming. Usually they are places where there is also a large hippie population, that have a decent economy due to some outside tourism factor (ski towns, beach communities). Many times you're going to find that these places are queer friendly because several of the more affluent members of the business community happen to be same sex couples and their moving to the little rural backwater was so beneficial for the community that everyone just got over it.

You're not going to see people holding hands in these communities whether they're gay or straight because these communities are still pretty conservative when it comes to PDA.

Aum wrote:Every queer guy I have dated who is from a smaller place proclaimed that he got the hell out of there a.s.a.p because it was backward, discriminatory, there were no dating opportunities, and it was boring.
The thing is,and I know because I grew up in a rural town, this is true for straight people from rural places, especially the boring part. But the dating thing doesn't have to be so awkward now because it's 2013 and the internet is your friend. Although to have any serious progress along the dating thing you better have a car and be prepared to travel to/from your dates.

But that's not to say that there are huge numbers of these communities either, they are a minority and they're so homogenous looking with the communities that aren't queer friendly that it's hard to tell. The only reason that I know of many of the ones I do is because much of my travels were with my best friend and we were often mistaken for a gay couple when we road tripped together (mostly because I act very flamboyant to piss off the hicks).
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Re: Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby Tookie » Sun Apr 28, 10:20 2013

Just stopping in to say that I'm thinking about this and will return when I have something coherent to say!
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Re: Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby Eravial » Sun Apr 28, 14:02 2013

I wrote a whole reply the other night but I was pretty drunk and decided to scrap it out of lack of confidence in my drunk coherence, so here's another go:

As a queer person who grew up in a small town, I have seen my fair share of bigotry. In my small town, most social discourse was driven by the local Baptist church, which led the campaign against my high school's gay-straight alliance and barred homosexuality from being mentioned in sex ed or parenting. However, the next town over, the community was less church-oriented, partially because they had a more diverse religious composition, was more racially diverse, and had a thriving youth LGBT group based out of the local high school. I believe that exposure to diversity of any kind begets acceptance of others' lifestyle differences. Cities are more diverse than most small towns (certainly more than mine, which is currently 98.7% white), so if this is true, cities will be more accepting than small towns.

Additionally, by the law of averages, if 5% of the population is queer, you will have a much higher chance of meeting another queer person in a city of 500,000 than in a town of 5,000. This is why as a teenager I would flock to the city I lived a half hour from on the weekends. I already knew all the queer youth in my town!

I also agree with monk's point that having gay prominent members of a small community does huge things to the community's acceptance of LGBT. It's one thing to see famous people come out, but to see your local business owner and community leader come out hits closer to home.

As for the class disparaties, I think it makes sense that those who already have financial security and/or higher-skill jobs will be more "frou-frou" than lower-class, economically vulnerable LGBT people. I imagine that if you are already in a tenuous situation in life, you are less likely to jeopardize your living, your support systems, etc. by acting in a way that draws attention to your LGBT-ness.
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Re: Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby Tookie » Sun Apr 28, 19:28 2013

Ok. I'm scrapping the coherence idea and going with a series of only marginally related points instead. Bear with me.

- I think that cities are attractive to queers because of the paradox of both relative anonymity as well as easy access to likeminded community. However, I also think that the urban queer scene, at least as I experience it as a young, white person, is pretty fucking exclusive in that it is overwhelmingly young and white. As such, I feel that often, the concept of queer "visibility" is racialized and classed - who is or is not visible as queer has a lot to do with white, middle-class ideas of what queers look like. I might instantly recognize a white girl with an asymmetrical haircut and Blundstones as queer, but will I recognize the South Asian femme? Maybe not unless she's holding another girl's hand, or plastered in rainbow flags. We've been taught to recognize a certain kind of queer, but there are lots of queers out there - working class queers, queer people of colour - who do not look like that.

- I also think that as queers, most of us have had at least occasional brushes with marginalization or discrimination, and know that it feels shitty. Thus, the more privilege we have, the more responsibility we have to be allies to others who experience marginalization - trans folks, folks with disabilities, working class folks, folks without homes, etc. I often see a lack of self-reflexivity in the queer community. How often do we talk about discrimination against queer and gender non-conforming folks in the workplace, but then host events with fixed covers that mean they're financially inaccessible? Or hold events in locations that are not accessible to folks in a wheelchair or scooter? We gotta look out for each other. That means fighting gentrification so that it IS possible to live in this city. That means finding ways of living collectively or sharing to keep our expenses low. That means taking care of each other when we're struggling with our mental or physical health. All of these things require the pre-existence of a queer community, however, which brings me to my last point...

- I think that especially in BC, it is totally possible to live in a mid-sized to small city and still have community without experiencing too much discrimination. I'm thinking about the Sunshine Coast, the Island, Nelson, places like that...
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Re: Queer culture vs. the bourgoise

Postby Aum » Mon Apr 29, 1:17 2013

^ Funny you mention Nelson because that's exactly what I have in mind for where to relocate.

Will reply more later.
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