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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Post #2: Gay LA: Part 2

This week’s reading takes us through the 20th century history of Los Angeles. This second parts starts with the change in political and social climates of LA. The social justice and change as seen throughout the nation in other marginalized communities was sparking the same action for LGBTQ populations, with protests like Human Be-Ins. Despite these moves in social justice for gay liberation and gay power, lesbians, living in the intersection of misogyny and homophobia, continued to face erasure and silencing. Lesbians, fueled by these many years of neglect and oppression, started to organize and resist on their own. Lesbian feminism grew out of this resistance. Although not majorly talked about, this arena of lesbian feminism, which grew out of righteous resentment, found a violently misplaced target in the trans body when it took the shape of TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminism) which was a problematic and violent subdivide of this second-wave lesbian feminism.
I found chapter 8 of this section to be very interesting. There is vast discussion of West Hollywood, or Boystown as it was coyly called then, as a safe and open town for the expression of gay men’s sexualities and lifestyles. However, this town had “little class or racial diversity and, outside of a few nightclubs and bars…unreflective of the lesbian community” (232). I found it interesting that, in a town with a population whose household income exceeded that of the average American’s, a new gay consumerism strongly sprung forth. I found the discussion of gay men of West Hollywood serving as the new source for advertising and consumerism important and intriguing. That this lead to even straight companies buying ads in gay publications very problematic, as straight people have historically encroached upon and diminished the spaces that should be reserved for gay people and identities. But the response by some gay men was to financially and monetarily support such consumerism and companies, because, despite a strong and powerful history of anti-capitalism and antiestablishment politics, the belief among the affluent in West Hollywood now was that “gay money” demonstrated and nurtured “gay power” (233). This got me wondering how effective this could be. This notion of fighting oppression with capitalism is nothing new. But, historically, this has only worked to assimilate the once-oppressed group and turn it away from fighting the sources of oppression and marginalization. But overall, I stand on the side, though maybe rather cynical, that this same “gay money” was going to support companies and people who saw these gay men as only a profit margin, and not as actual people to stand in solidarity with.

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