Moving to Paris! Gays and Lesbians: Paths, Experiences and Projects

Authored by: Marianne Blidon

The Routledge Research Companion to Geographies of Sex and Sexualities

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472455482
eBook ISBN: 9781315613000
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043331

10.4324/9781315613000.ch23

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Abstract

The city is classically defined as a space with a high density and diversity, in which social and spatial interaction is maximized. In the modern conception, the city carries urban values, such as freedom, emancipation and confronting otherness (Lees, 2004). The attributes deemed characteristic of modern cities – anonymity, consumption, diversity – hence play a role in facilitating a more diverse range of sexual behaviours. Often contrasted with a rurality that is deemed sexually conservative and even backward, the city is thus widely regarded as a site of sexual liberation and emancipation, with key cities such Paris, London, Berlin, Sydney, San Francisco or New York playing host to visible lesbian and gay communities (Knopp, 1998; Podmore, 2006; Hubbard, 2011). Carl Wittman presented San Francisco as ‘a refugee camp of homosexuals’. According to him, ‘We have fled from every part of the nation, and like refugees elsewhere, we came not because it is so great here, but because it is so bad there’ (Wittman, 1970, p. 330). As Henning Bech said, ‘The city is the social world proper of the homosexual, his life space; it is no use objecting that lots of homosexuals have live in the country. Insofar as they wish to be homosexual, the vast majority must get out into ‘the city’ (Bech, 1997, p. 98). This association between lesbian and gay identities and the metropolis is reinforced by the gay geographical imagination of the migration captured in the title of Weston’s (1995) ‘Get Thee to a Big City’.

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