Closeted Heterotopia: Public Space, Gay Sexuality and Self-disciplining Subject in People’s Park
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This chapter focuses on the relationships between urban public spaces, gay men’s cruising, and the constitution of homosexual subjectivities. Again, People’s Park is chosen as the spatial setting for the case study. The importance of public cruising spaces in organizing both homo-social and homoerotic relations between gay men has been recognized in various works (e.g. Leap 1999). Ever since Humphrey (1970) groundbreaking ethnography on tearoom trade, public spaces for gay cruising have been seen as crucial sites in which vernacular sexual knowledge is produced and a collective gay identity is formulated (Iveson 2007; Turner 2003; Brown 2008). More importantly, public cruising places create constitutive and transformative possibilities for the production of particular gay subjectivities. Cruising places are not only spaces in which normative sexual geographies can be subverted temporarily, but also urban locations where the regulatory power of the state and the society has always-already been established. As Leap (1997) argues, these complex intersections of sexual visibility, spatial politics and regulation unfold in the lives of gay cruisers and also shape their collective sexual experiences and gendered identities. In this sense, an understanding of public cruising space requires analytical energy dedicated to the productive relationships between space, power relations and the constitution of sexual subjectivities (Brickell 2010).