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Author Topic: Gender Sexuality and Sexual Difference  (Read 408 times)


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Gender Sexuality and Sexual Difference
« on: February 04, 2018, 05:30:06 PM »
The following article is an exclusive to Tranz4mations AU an extract from: ‘Gender, Sexuality and Sexual Difference: Essay and Tutorial Presentation’ by James Rendell 2002

The Stonewall Riots: The birth of Gay Liberation!

‘Early on the morning of June 28, a routine police raid on the Stonewall Inn @ 53 Christopher Street, in New York City, turned into history’s first gay riot when the patrons put up unexpected resistance. A group of uniformed police arrived at the bar about 3.00am. They ordered customers to leave, then began arresting employees, as well as several drag queens.

Although such arrests had occurred routinely in the past, this time the crowd reacted. Patrons chanted ‘Pigs!’ at the police, then threw pennies, followed by beer bottles, bricks and even a parking meter.

The police barricaded themselves inside the bar, which itself came under attack from the crowd. Someone attempted to set it on fire. According to one observer, the riot was escalating and the trapped police were about to fire on the crowd when reinforcements arrived, and the group dispersed. Estimates of the crowd’s size ranged from 200 - 400.

The following day, the Stonewall Inn re-opened but the management, which had been charged with selling liquor without a license, gave away drinks. A crowd gathered, soon spilling over to nearby Sheridan Square Park. The riots resumed that night and continued for the next several evenings.

The Stonewall rebellion is now seen as marking the beginning of the modern lesbian and gay movement. The homophile movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, with its emphasis on social respectability, gave way to groups such as the Gay Liberation Front, a militant leftist organisation begun in July.’

From: The Alyson Almanac, 1990.

Sex as currency: commodification of the gay male body.

Visibilising gay sexuality, within photographic images has been empowering and liberating for gay men and the GLBT community. However, increased visibility of the gay/male body has also been used to fetishise and pathologise gay men as the deviant ‘other’.

Lowenthal describes the importance of pornography and advertising in the following way;‘It has provided a visibility, it has given clear imagining to gay male desire, and it has made it perfectly clear to both gay men, and heterosexuals the answer to ‘What do they do in bed?’ For many gay men, softcore and hardcore porn was one of the ways that they validated their sexual desires.

But porn has also had a deeply destructive effect on gay male sexuality. The increasing commercialisation of porn over the decades has left us with a porn world of homogenised, mass produced images that have little emotional or sexual resonance.’ and ‘Klein was pushing the envelope not of public sexuality but the outer limits of which he will go to generate profit. Calvin Klein models have become one of the basic moulds for porn stars: Klein is selling clothes, pornogrpahy is selling sex.’ (Lowenthal:1997:22)

The commodification of the body, whether it be male or female, presents a narrow discourse about sexuality. Commodified images limit sexuality to being a function of the body that encourages a consumptive need for sex and ignores discourse that places sexuality within a conceptual framework that references the body, mind and spirit.

The widespread acceptance of commodified images has served to reduce GLBT identity to being only about sexuality. The images and editorials of magazines have validated casual sex and promiscuity as the lifestyle choice to the extent that discussions about responsible sexual ecology have become marginalised.

At a time when HIV/AIDS new diagnosis are beginning to rise again some consideration should be given to the place that sexualised images have within GLBT culture. As Pearson suggests in Clarke, 1985, ‘the ‘sexual revolution’ offered the hope of change to restrictive social codes; but it is a flickering hope.

Sexuality, it seems, is being absorbed into the mechanical world of production; sex has been reduced either to performance, or to consumer goods. Hoping for change, we ought to make a start on justice in sexuality where it is a reality, where we actually appreciate it - in our daily lives. And in trying to make this goal a reality, we are compelled to struggle against those who profit by selling sexuality as an item of commerce.’ (Pearson in Clarke et al:1985:52)

Visibility opens up GLBT sexuality to greater surveillance but also leads to increased opportunities for discrimination.Photograpers identifying as GLBT have their work censored and find it much harder to get established as artists. Gallerys are still controlled by the dominant heternormative paradigm such as those established by Steiglitz et al.

The commodification of the male body has been used by those in positions of power in the same way as the male gaze has objectified femininity. Sexualised images have become so common place that they no longer confront or force an examination of sexuality.

The policing and censorship of images does not prevent the display of safely reduced nudity but rather is done to prevent the mass production and display of non-pornographic images that humanise GLBT.

The photographic images that provide the biggest challenge to the dominant cultural frames are those that seek to present images of GLBT as positive empowered people living integrated and functional lives. For example, It is easy to promote the message that it is ok to discriminate against a people whose visual identity is seen as decadant or extreme. Photographic representation can be or may be co-opted within a heteronormative system of surveillance to reinforce the deviant and demonised status attributed to sexual minorities by the dominant culture.

What is needed within GLBT culture is a discourse that breakdowns the binary oppositions that exist within discussions about sexuality and lifestyle. As Harris, 1998, & Lowenthal, 1997, suggest, ‘post gay impulses suggest a healthy desire to have gay culture and politics become visionary and generative rather than reactive and defensive... post gay activism breaks down facile notions of opposition and creates a politics of affinity rather than identity.’ (Harris:1998:86) and ‘the twin problems we then face are how to introduce the full palette of sexuality into public dialogue through the medium of contemporary art, and how to rescue from the politicians the right to make art about whatever we want to make it about:sex, politics and religion, or any combination we choose. (Lowenthal:1997)

Author: James G. Rendell
Graduate Diploma of Communications in Photomedia
Edith Cowan University, Perth, Westrn Australia, 2002

« Last Edit: February 04, 2018, 05:56:19 PM by Mary-Jane »
Definition of Hats aka "Conflict of Interest" Statement: Mary-Jane is Editor of Perth Gay News, The Media Annuncio of the Perth Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of the Abbey of the Black Swan & Editor @ HIV Institute of WA.

#Twitter @AbbeyBlackSwan1

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Gender Sexuality and Sexual Difference
« on: February 04, 2018, 05:30:06 PM »