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Session Overview
RN23_01b_P: Spaces of Sexuality
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Zowie Davy, De Montfort University
Location: PC.4.25
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 4.

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Urban space and sexuality: The alternative geography of lesbian partying in Paris.

Aikaterini Stamatopoulou

Harokopio University of Athens, Greece

This paper aims to present the urban geography of lesbian and, to some extent, queer visibility in Paris. In particular, the focus is on the places lesbian and queer women frequent in order to meet and interact with each other. Through extensive bibliographical work, field research, two interviews with LGBTQ party organizers and informal communication with key informants, I tracked down the changes which have occurred in the LGBTQ Parisian scene since 2010 regarding the closing of lesbian businesses and the emergence of itinerant and ephemeral parties, which pass through the city, especially on the right bank of the Seine. Historical research, communication via Internet and social media, new venues for meeting people, informal networks and new cultural or festive associations are among the examined factors in conjunction with gentrification processes. The purpose is to present how the intersections of the urban place, gender and sexuality contribute to the (re)construction and promotion of more fluid lesbian and queer identities and geographies beyond the homonormative gay district of Marais. Taking into consideration the heterogeneity and multiplicity of lesbians and queer women, I suggest that LGBTQ parties interrupt the heteronormative continuum of public space and make the lesbian visibility more open, powerful and ubiquitous, even though they ought to be more inclusive.

Yet sexuality, is still a taboo. Gender spatial injustice in the case of Thessaloniki during a crisis era.

Maria Papadimitriou, Maria Sassalou

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

The study of gender and the roles that spring from the social-identities is a controversial and a long-lasting issue that concerns not only academics and researchers but also the societies themselves. The prevalent patriarchal perceptions have established a sense of normality; the cis-male gender is considered as the dominant gender norm including also the view that women and lgbtq people are weak and inferior whilst the different sexual preferences have been condemned by society, as something unethical and abnormal. Based on queer, affective and intersectional approaches we realize, that there are cases of racism, social injustice and inequality, which are intensified in times of crisis. This social injustice is extremely interesting to be examined, not only for its sociological and psychological dimension but also for its spatial features. The spatial injustice comes into light as a result of the limited public appearance or by the risky appearance of those whose choices differ, concerning their sexual identity. From what was mentioned above, arise the following questions: Is it the same for a woman and a man to walk downtown at four o’ clock in the morning? Can transgendered individuals visit each square at any time? Can heterosexual and homosexual couples enjoy the same standards of entertainment? For the purpose of the paper we document, map and monitor the city center of Thessaloniki during 2016-2017, a multicultural society in a crisis-ridden period. The social data collected by participatory action research, autoethnography and militant ethnographic analysis. The reasearch aim is not only to contribute in theoretical analysis but also to enforce sexual solidarity and emancipation of sexual practices.

What do Pride events mean to LGBT people in the UK?

Eleanor Formby

Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom

This paper - which draws on wider UK research on understandings and experiences of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) ‘communities’ (Formby, forthcoming), involving 627 survey respondents and 44 participants involved in in-depth interviews and/or discussion groups - explores what Pride events mean to LGBT people. As I show, Pride events were often viewed as particularly significant temporary (LGBT) spaces. This was because they could facilitate feelings of solidarity, safety and freedom not always experienced elsewhere. However, Pride events were also subject to criticism for a variety of reasons, including a lack of ‘politics’, the presence of alcohol and other commercial interests, and the potential for some LGBT people to be excluded within, and from, Pride events. In addition, tensions were evident about ‘flamboyant’ displays of ‘queerness’ that unsettled some participants who did not want to be (seen to be) ‘different’ or ‘extreme’. Nevertheless, a sense of celebration appealed to some. In this paper I will discuss the above research findings, and in conclusion show that for some people, ‘pride’ is time-limited and spatially-specific. Overall, the presentation will identify what an examination of Pride events can tell us about LGBT lives more broadly.

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