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“Digital Book Club” talks are organized by Tristan Bridges (email@example.com) and Catherine Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you’re a member of the UCSB community, you can also request access to our list serv at “SOC genderandsexuality” for updates on our group activities.
Who Needs Gay Bars?Bar-Hopping through America’s Endandered LGBTQ+ Places
Gay bars have been closing by the hundreds. The story goes that increasing mainstream acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, plus dating apps like Grindr and Tinder, have rendered these spaces obsolete. Beyond that, rampant gentrification in big cities has pushed gay bars out of the neighborhoods they helped makehip. Jarred by the closing of his favorite local watering hole in Cleveland, Greggor Mattson embarks on a journey across the country to paint a much more complex picture of the cultural significance of these spaces, inside "big four" gay cities, but also beyond them. No longer the only places for their patrons to socialize openly, Mattson finds in them instead a continuously evolving symbol; a physical place for feeling and challenging the beating pulse of sexual progress.From the historical archives of Seattle's Garden of Allah, to the outpost bars in Texas, Missouri or Florida that serve as community hubs for queer youth—these are places of celebration, where the next drag superstar from Alaska or Oklahoma may be discovered. They are also fraught grounds for confronting the racial and gender politics within and without the LGBTQ+ community. The question that frames this story is not asking whether these spaces are needed, but for whom. Mattson logged 10,000 miles on the road to all corners of the United States. His destinations are sometimes thriving, sometimes struggling, but all offering intimate views of the wide range of gay experience in America: POC, white, trans, cis; past, present, and future. Greggor Mattson, is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Oberlin College. He is the author of The Cultural Politics of European Prostitution Reform (2016). His work has appeared in the AnnualReview of Sociology, as well as in Slate, Literary Hub, Belt Magazine, and The Daily Beast. He has published widely within sociology as well as for the broader public and he is actively engaged in the Sexualities Section of the ASA, among other organizations and spaces.