Gay Men as Infrastructure

Authors: Max Andrucki*, Temple University
Topics: Sexuality, Urban Geography, Social Theory
Keywords: queer, bodies, city, materiality, performativity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Washington 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban studies has recently become accustomed to theorizing “people as infrastructure” (Simone 2004). In this paper I want to sketch out a theory of queer urbanism that takes seriously the embodied materiality of the city. Writers like Edmund White, Samuel Delany, and Thom Gunn have articulated a sense in which bodily traces and viscosities of public and non-monogamous sexual encounter are the “sticky semen-glue that binds [gay men] together” (White 1997). Here I set out a proposition for queer geography to attend to the organs and productions of the human body as the infrastructure of a queer city. Returning to Guy Hocquenghem’s vision of a radical de-oedipalized and de-subjectivized erotics of the deprivatized anus, I draw on Debord’s (1957) spatial metaphor of “plaques tournantes,” or “pivot points,” as essential for grasping the psychogeography of a city. I want to ask what happens when we replace the physical transportation infrastructure Debord’s metaphor draws on with the bodies of gay men. I want to propose that traces of gay men’s bodies not only hold queer community together but in fact perform the publicity of city as a whole through the physical and psychic enactment of connection and distribution. If Berlant (2016) calls us to think of infrastructure as “the living mediation of what organizes life” I argue we can theorize queer sociality not as constitutive of utopia, but as a mode by which the ordinary city regroups, reorients, and survives its own desires.

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