The Private World of Public Urinals: London 1918–57
Author: Houlbrook, Matt
Source: The London Journal, Volume 25, Number 1, May 2000 , pp. 52-70(19)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:Taking as its focus the use of London's urinals by men seeking men, this article explores the relationship between social behaviour and public space. Neither fully public nor fully private the urinal occupied a twilight zone in the wider urban landscape. In the social and sexual practices, surveillance and reconstruction of public urinals differing concepts of sexuality were played out in a conflict between homosexual men and public authorities. In defining and policing appropriate forms of behaviour in the urinal, the police and municipal bureaucracies attempted to regulate behaviour and construct a public city around heterosexist practices and assumptions. In contrast homosexual men sought to control the potentially private spaces provided by the urinals. The conflict over London's urinals made them a highly charged signifier in the articulation of masculinity and heterosexuality.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2000-05-01