Conferences are lonely. Two years ago, Cameron Macdonald and I flew out to the Eastern Sociology Society meeting in Philadelphia to sit on a panel with Myra Marx Ferree to discuss to the sociological implications of the Wisconsin Uprising, give an on-the-ground ethnographic perspective of the events, and solicit donations for the ongoing occupation efforts. Besides Myra and Cameron, I knew almost no one else there. However, a gay man with an iPhone is always connected to the gay community. As soon as the conference events for the day were over, I launched Grindr, changed my profile text, and began looking for friends.
Academics should blog, Jurgenson from Cyborgology tells us, to engage with those outside of the academy.
Now—should we be so lucky that a non-academic takes the time to read these posts—the whole world can see the arguments that previously took place spaced out over years in journal articles, or were raged at with local colleagues over a bottle of wine.
The latest example is the blogstorm over post-racist vs. post-racial between Fabio Rojas, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and Eric Anthony Grollman. I’m grateful for the chance to see a debate between three great scholars. One of this blog’s goals is to let readers behind the academic curtain and so I’m going to venture a few comments on the debate.
Last week, I lost a friend over a Jezebel article.
In what I might forever call Facebook-gate 2013 (I know, it’s early in the year, but I have hope this will be the worst), I dragged myself down into a bitter day-long fight over social media that I hadn’t experienced since Livejournal, that early internet furnace of my high school flamewars. Forces marshaled on two sides of the dispute: Was the Jezebel article irredeemably sexist and biphobic? Or were those claims of sexism and biphobia themselves a distraction from the central claim of the article that some people with privilege feel entitled to enter minority spaces? Who was derailing whom? Continue reading
Ethnographies are tomes. Although often the writing style lets people read them quickly, when one gets assigned to a class, at first there’s always an audible groan.
Ethnographies also often seem rather mysterious. We idealize the process of going out into the field. Honestly, we can’t help doing that because the writing itself is often sanitized of all of the messy starts, all of the days of problems. So much so that it often seems like you have to be the right type of person to write an ethnography or include ethnographic work within your research. When I was taking my Advanced Interviewing and Ethnography seminar with Cameron Macdonald, she told us of a famous sociologist who would send students out into the field with little training: “Most of you will fail, some of you are ethnographers.”
I’ve been posting links to these posts on Twitter and my Facebook page. On the link, I got a response from one of my friends, another graduate student, that I was using the term queer too loosely. I seemed, in his eyes, to be using queer as an umbrella term that stripped it of its radical meaning. Why call this project “Queer Metropolis” and not “LGBT Metropolis” or just “Gay Metropolis”? (Besides that the last one is the title of a book by George Kaiser following the history of gay men in America centered on New York City.) Largely, why use the term queer?
Last week, I discussed the first of two emerging themes that relate to the changing status of queer people in American society. The first is that Boystown is a commercial destination, not a community, or at least it is perceived that way by some. The second that I am going to discuss today is “be careful what you wish for.”
Queer people have been fighting for acceptance and equal rights for decades. What does acceptance mean though? Do we assimilate or do we maintain a separate community? Are we just like everyone else or is there something special to being queer?
Adam and I were stuffed into a small booth in a local greasy spoon. The waitress in her oversized grey T-shirt sauntered over to ask us if we wanted anymore coffee. Against my better judgment, I took another cup, although Adam waved it away.
“It’s like a mall.” He told me. “You go to shop at the mall. You go to hang out at the mall. You don’t live at the mall.”
Once Debby and her fiancé finally parked their car—somehow, even though we were the ones that walked, Jay and I beat them there—the four of us busted into the club. Circuit was hosting Urbano, the self-described “hottest Black and Latino Gay (LGBT/ SGL) parties in Chicago.” They had all been here before, and I was excited to be there for the first time. I paid my 10 dollar cover—the most expensive on the strip—and walked quickly to catch up with Jay and the others who had already started to march towards the back of the club.
Chicago can be an expensive city. Especially in an area that’s in late-stage gentrification (a topic I shall take up in a post soon), apartment prices, restaurants, and even groceries can be more expensive than what I was used to living in Madison. Although we’re not talking about New York City prices, doing an ethnography in a gentrified area can be a challenge, especially if you want to live in the area.
Over the weekend, I sat at my computer. At one point mid-Saturday, I wailed to my cats who sat on the couch looking at me impassively, “This all just needs to slow down!” For historians, my naive outside perception is that the challenge is often finding one’s data. Has someone preserved a set of documents, letters, or diaries that have information about the story that I want to tell? For the ethnographer, the challenge can often be keeping up with one’s data. Queers aren’t going to sit down and shut up just because I need a day off. Queer Metropolis never sleeps.