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Festivals, Space and Sexuality: Gay Pride in Australia

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This paper explores the emergence of gay pride festivals in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, in the wake of the emergence and consolidation of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras as one of the pre-eminent international tourism festivals staged in Australia. We argue that to understand the crucial role gay pride festivals play in processes of social change surrounding sexuality Down-Under it is essential to take spatiality seriously. We offer an interpretation of the sexual politics of festival spaces which is committed to relational thinking, openness and recognition of differences and multiplicities. Our interpretation draws on a discourse analysis of lesbian and gay media reports documenting reactions to the establishment of 'new' gay pride festivals. Discourses of pride have been negotiated and adopted in quite different ways by each of the festivals examined. Alert to the necessity to take spatiality seriously, gay pride events are shown politically to be ambiguous spaces, which may be sites of ambivalence, or ritualized resistance, or alternatively they may be contested sites.

Keywords: Australia; Festivals; Pride; discourse analysis; sexuality; space

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Tourism and Hospitality, Southern Cross University, NSW, Australia 2: School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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