Researching ‘gay Cape Town' finding value-added queerness
An initiative to market Cape Town as a premier gay and lesbian tourist destination has steadily gathered steam over the last decade. I set out to study this phenomenon thereby adding to conversations about the normalization and globalization of queerness. Rather than straightforwardly presenting my findings, however, this paper considers queer theorizing as an inductive process by detailing the answers I did not find in the field and the questions I did. Based on my close readings of queer theory, I went looking for resistance and therefore queerness in the normalized space of ‘gay Cape Town'. I was disappointed. But I did not instead find outright capitulation. Rather, in this process of queer's commodification, I found anxieties, cracks and fissures beneath a veneer of assured mainstreaming. I found an undetermined process that did not represent either ‘un-African-ness' or ‘global queer homogeneity' or ‘African-ness' and ‘local queer heterogeneity'. I found not an un-queering through commodification, but a queer commodity struggling to gain a foothold in a nation in which the terrain for gay and lesbian politics has drastically changed in such a way that the market cannot be ignored. To grapple with these findings, I argue for a more ambivalent approach to queer theorizing.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of British Columbia, Department of Geography, 1984 West Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z2
Publication date: 2005-08-01