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Progress in Human Geography

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Geographies of sexuality - a review of progress


Jon Binnie and Gill Valentine
Prog Hum Geogr 1999 23: 175
DOI: 10.1177/030913259902300202

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Progress in Human Geography 23,2 (1999) pp. 1 75-187

Geographies of sexuality - a review


of progress
Jon Binnie1 and Gill Valentine2
ISchool of Social Science, Liverpool John Moores University, Henry Cotton Campus,
15-21 Webster Street, Liverpool L3 2ET, UK
2Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Winter Street, Sheffield
S10 2TN, UK

Abstract: This article examines the recent rapid growth of work on the geographies of sexuality.
The authors argue that while sexuality has become an area of considerable interest within social
and cultural geography, much remains to be done to tackle homophobia within the discipline as
a whole. The article critiques the ease with which sexuality as an object of study has become
assimilated into the discipline while homophobia remains deep seated. The authors discuss how
feminist geography has been both supportive and restrictive in this respect. Reviewing the
development of work on geographies of sexuality, the article argues we need to move away
from a simple mapping of lesbian and gay spaces towards a more critical treatment of the
differences between sexual dissidents. Finally, the authors argue for a greater forging of links
with writers outside the discipline to consolidate work in this emerging area.

Key words: feminist geography, homophobia, lesbian geographies, queer politics, sexuality and
space.

I Introduction
This article evaluates the growth of work on lesbian, gay and bisexual sexualities within
geography. It is a rapidly expanding area of publication. As more and more writers on
sexuality from outside the discipline of geography, such as Kath Weston (1995) and
Elspeth Probyn (1995; 1996), are now writing about space and place, we wish to
examine what is distinctive about geography's contribution to the study of lesbian, gay
and bisexual sexualities. We do not claim to be authoritative arbiters of the field, but
instead feel that a review of the literature may be helpful to those approaching the
subject for the first time. In doing so we wish to articulate the omissions, exclusions and
failures of this emerging body of literature. In addition we wish to assess the contribu-
A)ArnolId 1 999 0309-1 325(99)PH232ED

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1 76 Geographies of sexuality - a review of progress

tion that geographies of sexuality have made in developing our understanding of how
sexuality underpins social, cultural, economic and political transformations.
We have chosen to focus our review on three key areas where the greatest volume of
work has been conducted: urban geography; and geographies of the urban/rural
opposition; and geographies of citizenship. The prevalence of material in these areas
reflects the fact that they have been among those that have been most receptive to
feminist and postmodern critiques, and therefore been among the most open towards
work on sexuality.

11 Urban geography
The earliest work on sexuality and space sought to map the most visible lesbian and gay
spaces within the North American city. While Loyd and Rowntree (1978) and
Weightman (1981) were the first to publish geographies of the 'gay landscape' [sic], it is
Manuel Castells (an urban sociologist) whose work is most widely cited. In The city and
the grassroots, Castells (1983) presented material from his study of lesbian and gay
spaces in San Francisco. This work was most easily and unproblematically 'spatial'. The
boundaries of specific gay male neighbourhoods and commercial districts were marked
and defined by dots on maps - the dots being lesbian and gay facilities such as bars and
other businesses gleaned through gay guides and business directories. Castells argued
that the geography of gay men and the geography of lesbians reflected their respective
gender roles and gendered behaviour. Gay men acted primarily as men and were
therefore more territorial, had more disposable income and desired the visible spatially
defined commercial scene. Lesbians acted primarily as women, were not territorial,
were reliant on informal networks rather than commercial facilities, were more
politicized than gay men and created lesbian space within feminist networks. The
corollary of Castells' assumptions about what both lesbians and gay men 'looked like'
was that lesbians and gay men led lives distinct from each other and from straight
society. These simplistic assumptions would be considered highly problematic and less
tenable today.
Castells' work on San Francisco did at least draw urban sociologists' and
geographers' attention to the fact that there was a spatial basis to gay identity; and that
gay men in particular were playing an important role in the gentrification of the city,
and more generally in the so-called 'urban renaissance' in North American cities. Since
Castells' work on San Francisco, there have been surprisingly few writers within urban
sociology and urban geography who have examined the role of gay men in urban
regeneration. Larry Knopp has been the most diligent in this area, conducting studies
in New Orleans and Minneapolis, and has published a string of articles on the
involvement of gay men in the urban political economy (Knopp, 1987; 1990a; 1990b).
More recently, Benjamin Forest (1995) has focused on the complex relationship between
gay identity, space and place in West Hollywood.
Until very recently, lesbian urban communities had been very much neglected in
these studies of gay male space. However Sy Adler and Joanna Brenner's study of an
unspecified lesbian community in a city in the north west of the USA, challenged
Castells' simplistic assumptions about lesbian identity and behaviour (Adler and
Brenner, 1992). In their article they argued that lesbians did concentrate in specific

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Jon Binnie and Gill Valentine 1 77

neighbourhoods of the city in question but that these 'communities' were 'quasi-
underground' and ephemeral. These characteristics were also observed in studies of
lesbian residential areas in other North American, British and French cities (see, for
example, Ettore, 1978; Davis and Kennedy, 1986; Winchester and White, 1988; Peake,
1993; Valentine, 1995). Indeed, both Ettore (1978) and Peake (1993) have demonstrated
the political importance to lesbians of establishing local territorial bases. Peake (1993:
427), writing in relation to Grand Rapids, a lesbian neighbourhood in the USA, states
that 'the formation of a lesbian residential area represents a political act aimed at
securing access to residential areas of the city which are not mediated through relations
with men'.
Work by Tamar Rothenberg on the Park Slope lesbian community in Brooklyn, New
York, represents the most sophisticated treatment of an actually existing lesbian
community to date (Rothenberg, 1995). Central to her study was the whole intensely
problematic notion of what constitutes a lesbian community. Rothenberg (1995) argues
that while economic factors, in particular the availability of inexpensive rented housing,
have shaped and influenced the development of a lesbian identified neighbourhood,
lesbian imaginings of community and the 'symbolic' importance that has been attached
to Park Slope have also facilitated the growth and development of this neighbourhood
into an area with 'perhaps the heaviest concentration of lesbians in the USA' (1995: 169).
Rothenberg's (1995) study is a reflection of the fact that work on the urban has become
more sophisticated in its treatment of lesbians and gay men. This work is now also
examining wider relationships between political economy of space and the politics of
sexuality. Knopp has since attempted to explore the links between sexuality and
capitalism in a broader context (Knopp, 1992; 1995). In addition a number of writers
have explored the links between sexualized cultures of consumption and the
production of sexualized space (see Binnie, 1995a; 1995b; Mort, 1995; Munt, 1995).
Equally significant has been the blossoming of work examining sexualized urban
space outside the major North American gay centres. In response to the dramatic
growth and development of urban gay villages in the heart of British cities in the 1990s
there has been an upsurge of work on London's Soho (Binnie, 1995a), and a string of
studies on Manchester's 'Gay Village'(Corton, 1993; Hindle, 1994; Whittle, 1994; Quilley
1995). Beyond the UK and North America, there have been several studies on
Amsterdam (Duyves, 1992a; Binnie, 1995a). For another northern European perspective
there is the work of Henning Bech (1992; 1993). Matthias Duyves (1992a; 1992b; 1995)
and Jon Binnie (1995a) have both examined the phenomenon of lesbian and gay
tourism, the economic potential of which has been recognized in many quarters
recently (Duyves, 1992a).
Later work has since extended the scope of lesbian and gay geographies beyond the
more material manifestations on the urban landscape towards examining lesbian
informal networks and institutions (Valentine, 1993a; 1993c), and the management of
multiple identities in everyday life (Valentine, 1993b). In contrast to the early work
which identified visible gay neighbourhoods and consumption spaces within cities,
these studies have been significant for stressing the importance of studying the less
visible aspects of lesbian and gay communities. Likewise the work of Canadian
geographer, Celeste Wincapaw (forthcoming), is also broadening geographical under-
standings of lesbian and gay 'communities'. Rather than focusing on 'real time' face-to-
face lesbian communities her research is beginning to explore the negotiation of lesbian

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178 Geographies of sexuality - a review of progress

and bisexual identities in the virtual space of 'lesbian-focused' electronic mailing lists
on the Internet. Such work, which draws heavily on the burgeoning cultural studies
literature on identity and performativity but which also attempts to theorize the notion
of 'lesbian' space in complex ways, offers new possibilities for geographical work both
to inform, and be informed by, the work of other social science disciplines. As
geographers we have indeed progressed a long way from marking 'dots on maps' in
our understanding of the multiple and fluid ways that sexual 'communities' are
imagined, negotiated and contested as demonstrated by the essays in Duncan (1996)
and Ingram et al. (1997).

III Geographies of the rural/urban opposition


In the mid-1990s, there was an upsurge of interest in the rural as a specific focus for
work on sexual geographies. The pioneering work of Jerry Lee Kramer on lesbian and
gay communities in North Dakota (Kramer, 1995) and work by David Bell and Gill
Valentine on rural Britain (Bell and Valentine, 1995a) mark both a significant
development in the geography of work on sexuality, and clearly reinforce the need for
lesbian and gay studies to consider issues of space and place. Bell and Valentine (1995a)
argue that studies of the rural have thus far failed to examine the experiences of lesbian
and gay men. These few studies of rural sexual geographies demonstrate how much we
take for granted that lesbian and gay lives are lived in the urban environment. The
urbanity of lesbian and gay existence only really becomes visible when contrasted with
the rural. In 'Queer country' Bell and Valentine (1995a) trace a cartography of lesbian
and gay rural existence and experience. They stress the ambivalence of the rural in the
sexual imaginary as simultaneously utopian and dystopian - a place of escape or
becoming, as well as a place to escape from. In doing so they draw a distinction
between those lesbians and gay men who have been brought up in a rural environment
who migrate to the city to escape the oppressive moral landscape of the rural; and those
lesbian and gay city dwellers who migrate to the countryside actively seeking a rural
lifestyle in preference to the city. For those raised in rural communities, the city is most
likely to be seen as a place to escape to in order to define oneself as lesbian or gay. For
those who actively chose a rural life the attractions are manifold, though the reasons for
migration are less clear.
In the 1970s lesbian separatist communities were established in rural parts of the USA
(Valentine, 1997). These communities adhere to a folkish rural utopianism. For many
women membership of these communities may embody a rejection of the man-made
city, together with the perceived masculinity of the urban built environment. Here,
place-bound identity is all important. For as Bell and Valentine (1995a) argue those
engaged in same-sex activity in rural areas may not define themselves as lesbian or gay
due to the lack of a developed social and political gay and lesbian community infra-
structure. Informal networks, telephone dating and cottaging and cruising may
constitute the rural spaces of these communities. Rural dwellers enjoying same-sex
activity may not share the identity of the urban lesbian or gay man. This point is
reinforced by the few case studies on the rural lives of lesbians and gay men.
A fascinating case study of one rural sexual geography is provided by Jerry Lee
Kramer's study of a rural lesbian and gay community in North Dakota. Kramer (1995:

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Jon Binnie and Gill Valentine 1 79

200) reinforces the need for lesbian and gay studies to examine sexualities of the rural:
'in gay and lesbian studies, empirical research into the strategies, behaviours and
motivations of non-metropolitan gays and lesbians can provide further insights into the
wide diversity of the homosexual experience.' It is significant and fascinating that
Kramer conducted his interviews with 'exiled' North Dakotans in the conurbation of
Minneapolis-St Paul. Though his study is mostly concerned with gay men, he does
acknowledge that North Dakotan lesbians are generally likely to be more isolated than
gay men who at least have public spaces such as restrooms where they can meet other
men for sex. Kramer (1995) argues that for lesbians the only escape was visits to
Minneapolis and other big cities.
In 'Get thee to a big city' Kath Weston (1995) argues that the urban/rural dichotomy
is crucial to how many make sense of their lesbian and gay identity. She stresses (1995:
255) that: 'This symbolic contrast was central to the organization of many coming out
stories.' Weston adds that it is possible and useful to make sense of the rural through
the study of the urban. The rural and the urban cannot be studied in isolation. Weston's
work brings into focus the tension between the rural and urban in the production of a
'gay imaginary'. Unlike other studies, however, Weston's research depicts a more
pessimistic view of rural life for lesbians and gay men.
As both Kramer's (1995) and Weston's (1995) work suggests, the significance of
migration in lesbian and gay lives and identities needs to receive greater attention. As
Bob Cant says in the introduction to Invented identities 'lesbians and gay men differ from
other groups of migrants in that there is no homeland that can validate our group
identity' (Cant, 1997: 1). While lesbians and gay migrants share the common experience
of migrating to escape prejudice and forge an identity, Cant (1997) through his editing
of the life stories of 18 lesbians and gay men is keen to demonstrate the diversity of this
experience, and specifically the significance of economic constraints on migration. A
fascinating survey on London gay men's mobility Howfar will you go (Kelley et al., 1996),
published by the London-based Gay Men Fighting AIDS (GMFA), points to a complex
pattern of gay men's movement to and within London - the city that dominates the
British gay culture. The results of the GMFA survey demonstrate that only 23% of the
gay men they interviewed were originally from London, and that gay residents tend to
cluster in the inner London boroughs such as Islington, Hackney and Wandsworth. Of
course, it is not only rural-urban differences or regional differences that encourage
lesbian, gay men and bisexuals to migrate. In the next section we consider the relation-
ship between international migration and sexual citizenship.

IV Geographies of sexual citizenship


Geographers have began to theorize the relationship between sexuality and the state -
how sexualities and the state are mutually constituted at different spatial scales. The
focus on spatial scales and how sexual citizenship is constructed at different scales is a
major strength of Michael Brown's study of AIDS activism in Vancouver (Brown, 1994;
1995a; 1995b). David Bell has examined the ways in which an intimate citizenship is
constructed and contested through the politics of public sex and the Operation Spanner
trial in the UK (Bell, 1995a; 1995b). These studies constitute a challenge to an urban,
political geography hitherto ignorant of sexuality. They also reflect a growth of interest

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180 Geographies of sexuality - a review of progress

on sexuality and the state more generally in social and legal theory (Cooper, 1994; 1995;
Stychin, 1995; Wilson, 1995). While many of these studies ignore the spatial, for others
issues of public and private space and the deployment of spatial concepts are central to
their arguments. For example in her study of symbolic centrality of race and sexuality
in new-right discourse in contemporary Britain, Anna Marie Smith (1994) deploys
Derridean perspectives on space, identity and difference. She argues that the postwar
production of British national identity was predicated on the exclusion of otherness,
specifically the figure of the black immigrant in Powellism, and the queer in
Thatcherism. Shane Phelan (1995) also discusses space in her deconstructive reading of
queer politics, while Leslie Moran (1996) examines the contested and performative uses
of space in his elegant study of the place of sexuality within English law. In The
homosexual(ity) of law, Moran is concerned with how English law creates a distinction
between public and private space, one which is reinforced by the policing of public sex
between men. Focusing on the space of the public convenience as a discursive and real
space (also discussed in Woodhead, 1995), Moran (1996: 141-42) argues that
the public, non-sexualized, convenience is always already imagined as a sexualized space of private encounters;
its very existence speaks not only of a taboo around urination/defecation and the fact that it now has to be
undertaken in private but that the removal of these functions into a private space generates other private
dangers. The private and the sexualized nature of that space is written in the division between male and female
space; in the use of frosted glass that might provide natural light but prevent a public display; in the design of
the stalls; in the erection of barriers between the stalls to secure individuality during the private act of urination;
in the separation of space into individual private cubicles; in the provision of lockable doors to secure that
individual space etc.

While lawyers such as Moran have explored the links between sexuality, public order
and space, an evolving literature on architecture and sexuality (Colomina, 1992;
Sanders, 1996; Urbach, 1996) has examined how buildings embody concerns about the
proper social order. Other writers have examined the policing of public sex (Califia,
1994; Dangerous Bedfellows, 1996).
From the discussion of the literature on lesbian and gay geographies thus far it is
clear that movement and migration loom large in the lives of lesbians and gay men.
However there have been few studies of sexual citizenship and the politics of interna-
tional migration (though see Jessurun D'Oliveira, 1993; Chauvel, 1994). For lesbians
and gay men, migration across national boundaries can be immensely problematic,
especially when it comes to obtaining full rights of citizenship based on same-sex rela-
tionships. There has been little discussion of the transnational dimension in sexual
cultures. Binnie's work on international migration and tourism hints at a connection
between consumption and sexual citizenship (Binnie, 1995a; 1997a). While it may be
hard for some to resist the temptation to stereotype gay men as uniformly affluent and
mobile, it is clear that the persistence of laws that fail to recognize same-sex partners for
the purpose of rights of residence and affording of citizenship status represents a
barrier to movement of lesbians and gay men across national boundaries (Valentine,
1996).
Work on international lesbian and gay tourism needs to challenge the homophobia
often implicit within some disembodied accounts of western tourists engaged in sex
tourism. Lynda Johnston (1996) has challenged tourism as an area of study within
disciplines such as geography, arguing that it produces hegemonic, disembodied and
masculinist knowledge. Her work on the HERO parade, New Zealand's largest gay

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Jon Binnie and Gill Valentine 181

pride parade, and the Sydney Mardi Gras in Australia, offers a new perspective on
tourism and the complex power relations it involves. By taking an embodied approach
to the study of these festivals, Johnston's (1996) research not only subverts the
masculinism of tourism discourse but also, like the work of Binnie and Bell, represents
a significant attempt to liberate sexuality from the ghetto of community studies within
the discipline, marking another step on the path towards making it a fundamental issue
to be considered in all aspects of human geography inquiry.
One major feature of the work discussed so far however is the predominance of
writers from the English-speaking world, especially North America and the UK - with
perhaps some of the most innovative work on feminist geography and sexuality and
space now coming out of geographers at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New
Zealand (Longhurst, 1995; Peace, forthcoming). Criticizing the ethnocentricity of
lesbian and gay geographers and their preoccupation with the developed world Glen
Elder (1995: 57) asks: 'How are sexualities constructed and negotiated in peripheral
economies, and how do these spatial processes feed into the emergence of amongst
other things, "gay and lesbian culture" in "First World" settings?'. Unfortunately, there
are still few answers to these questions (though see Robson, 1991; Bravmann, 1994;
Murray, 1995; Skelton, 1995; Drucker, 1996).
Each of these subsections has considered progress in specific fields of geographical
study where the interplay between sexualities, acts and identities, and space and place
has been paramount. The discussion about race and nationhood - as studies of
community have also shown - implies that the whole notion of a uniform universal
lesbian and gay identity and community has become untenable in both politics and
theory. We will now go on to discuss work done by geographers which has sought to
evaluate critically the politics of lesbian and gay identity, in the light of the challenges
posed by queer politics and theory.

V Queer geographies: the trouble with identity politics


Geographers have most recently explored a range of perspectives based on queer
theory and sexual practice. This is a reaction against earlier work on lesbian and gay
geographies outlined above, which perhaps had an uncritical all-embracing concept of
lesbian and gay identity. Queer geographies have therefore attempted to scrutinize the
desirability of identity politics. Work by writers such as Bell et al. (1994), Julia Cream
(1992; 1995) and Alison Murray (1995) has challenged established notions of fixed
identities. David Bell's mapping of a bisexual geography is significant here in
subverting the hegemony of lesbian and gay geography, which had hitherto ignored
bisexuality (Bell, 1994). For Bell, bisexuality is very much 'a place on the margins'. In
challenging the placelessness and homelessness of bisexuality in queer politics, and
lesbian and gay geographies, Bell offers a powerful critique of biphobic notions that bi's
are tourists in lesbian and gay spaces (Bell, 1994). However, while remaining ever
sympathetic towards queer's transgressive project to subvert identity, he also remains
highly cynical of queer's utopianism, and in particular the way queer politics has
almost become a parody of itself, reinforcing the marginalization of discussions of 'race'
and bisexuality, among other thorny issues (Bell, 1994).
There have been few studies explicitly concerned with sexuality and the geographies

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182 Geographies of sexuality - a review of progress

of 'race' and racism (though see Peake, 1993; Davis, 1995; Skelton, 1995). Moreover
geographers studying 'race' and racism have also been culpable of neglecting sexuality
in their discussions, despite the growth of material on the intersections of race and
sexuality elsewhere (for instance, see Gilman, 1985; Mercer, 1993; Smith, 1994; Smyth,
1995). Disability is another neglected area of geographical research on sexuality and
space (though see Butler, forthcoming). Work outside geography has addressed the
links between homophobia and ableism. In Untold desires: the sexual politics of disability,
Tom Shakespeare, Kath Gillespie-Sells and Dominic Davies (1996) provide a starting
point for an examination of both the homophobia within the disability movement and
ableism within the lesbian and gay scene. They argue that while there are studies of
sexuality and disability they fail to acknowledge the experiences of disabled people
themselves (1996: 3):
There is quite an industry producing work around the issue of sexuality and disability, but it is an industry
controlled by professionals from medical and psychological and sexological backgrounds, the voice and
experience of disabled people is absent in almost every case. As in other areas, disabled people are displaced as
subjects, and fetishized as objects.

While such critiques of the concept of a lesbian and gay identity represent one example
of queer geographies, a second strand of work has sought to understand how the
theoretical insights of queer theory's critique of identity politics may be applied to
discussions of space. In 'All hyped up and no place to go' Bell et al. (1994), inspired by
the work of Judith Butler (1990), attempted to explore the importance of the spatial
specificity of the performance of gender identities. Employing Butler's notion that
gender is not simply an aspect of what one is, but is something one does repetitively in
interactions with others, Bell et al. try to assess whether similar arguments can be made
for the production of spaces. While Butler (1990) suggests that gender as performance
is no longer limited by sex, so Bell et al. (1994) suggest that public heterosexual space
may not be restricted to heterosexuality. Using the examples of the lipstick lesbian and
the gay skinhead, they asked questions about whether the performance of these
identities can ever disrupt the heterosexuality of straight space, questioning whether in
Butler's (1990: 124) words 'it is the site of parodic contest and display that robs
compulsory heterosexuality of its claims to naturalness and originality'. Concluding
their article Bell et al. remain ambivalent about the politics of proclaiming the queer
transgression and subversion of identity, pointing out that the performances of these
identities are read differently, by different people in different places. The article and the
respective replies to it demonstrate the limits of thinking through the tensions between
discursive bodies and material spaces.

VI Conclusion
Despite the critical tone of the latter stage of the article we hope we have demonstrated
that geographies of sexualities have come a long way in the last decade. Progress in the
study of the lives of dissident sexualities has been most striking,-most notably in three
key areas: urban geography; rural lesbian and gay geographies; and the geography of
sexual citizenship. In each of these areas, there have been significant developments in
both geographical understandings of lesbian, gay and bisexual lives and signs that

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Jon Binnie and Gill Valentine 183

sexual dissidents are beginning to have an impact on the heteronormative nature of


geographical knowledge (Binnie, 1997b).
Work on geographies of sexualities has to date been characterized by an emphasis on
both the material and the everyday - how sexualities are lived out in particular places
and spaces. This is the major contribution that geographers can therefore offer other
disciplines concerned with sexuality. Geographical work provides a corrective towards
the tendency within some poststructuralist writing on queer to divorce considerations
of sexual politics from wider political economic debates. It is a strength of the more con-
textualized geographies of sexuality that sexual politics must not be treated in isolation
and that wider political economic forces and considerations are at play in the
production of sexualized spaces (Binnie, 1995a; Quilley, 1995). As Michael Warner
(1993: x) argues in his introduction to Fear of a queer planet, 'the energies of queer studies
have come more from rethinking the subjective meaning of sexuality than from
rethinking the social'. Geographers could occupy a central place in the rearticulation of
queer theory to include a much needed social or material dimension (Warner, 1993).
There is an urgent need, articulated by Richard Comwell (1997) among others, to create
a queer social theory and queer political economy which acknowledges both the
importance of capital to the formation of sexual cultures and communities, and one
which acknowledges the exclusion and marginalization from economic activity
engendered by homophobia as well as recognizing the homophobia implicit within
commonplace assumptions about gay men being uniformly white and affluent.
While there is now almost an abundance of published material on local lesbian and
gay communities, less has been written linking lesbian and gay geographies to
processes of globalization. Geographers could gain much from material produced
elsewhere on the transnational basis of sexual identity (Manalansan IV, 1995),
nationalism (Mosse, 1985; Parker et al., 1992) and imperialism and globalization (Hyam,
1990; Lane, 1995). Unfortunately we have yet to witness much work on the geography
of sexuality in these areas, and the ethnocentricity of the literature on sexuality and
space remains largely unchallenged.
Indeed, there are many areas within the discipline of geography where discussion of
sexuality has been notable for its absence, for example, transport geography and
population geography. The different philosophical approaches that dominate different
subdisciplinary areas may explain the uneven impact of work on dissident sexualities
within geography. Geography remains a highly contested enterprise. While social and
cultural geography have been very receptive towards contemporary developments in
social theory (particularly with respect to the postmodern emphasis on 'difference') and
therefore towards dissident sexualities, many other fields of geographical inquiry
remain wedded to their positivist tradition. However, this does not explain why the
hegemonic sexual identity, heterosexuality, has thus far received so little attention from
geographers (notable exceptions being Linda McDowell's (1995) work on heterosexual
masculinities in city work places, and Phil Crang's (1995) work on the performance of
masculinities and femininities in restaurants). Perhaps then what we need is not so
much a queer reading of space, but rather a queer reading of the discipline of
geography itself.

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184 Geographies of sexuality - a review of progress

Acknowledgements
We would like to thank Susan Smith and two anonymous referees for their thoughtful
comments on earlier versions of this article. Special thanks to David Bell.

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