Category Archives: Eroticism and fantasy

@pansyguild’s ABUNDANCE down under

On my recent trip to Chicago, I met the wonderful young scholar and performer Ivan Bujan, who introduced me to @openengagement @pansyguild‘s project ABUNDANCE: Ancestral crops as performance, research and healing.

Pansy guild

@pansyguild describes themselves as a group of indigenous and black queers who grow things, based in Chicago, and ABUNDANCE is a seed bomb project spreading the word that queers are abundant, rooted and thriving.

Ivan gave me a seed bomb from the Abundance project and asked me to plant it somewhere significant back home (N.B this involved breaching Australian customs regulations….but for this cause I was quite happy to transgress the law…)

This weekend we had plans to catch up with a bunch friends at St Mark’s Park, which is a beautiful spot just south of Bondi Beach, where our dogs all hung out to do doggy things, play and frolic.

St Mark’s Park is located in the ancestral lands of the Eora people. You can read about the   far-reaching and extraordinary indigenous history of this area here

After white invasion and the British colonisation and settlement of Australia, this secluded park on the precipice of a cliff just south of Bondi Beach became a popular spot for men looking to hook up with other men for sex, fun and whatever else.  It was one of my favourite spots to cruise over the 1990s and early 2000s, and I had quite a few hot times there myself.

I was unaware that over the 1970s, 80s and 90s, dozens of men were assaulted, beaten, and numerous men have been found dead at the bottom of the cliffs below the park.  It has since emerged that these men were the subject of brutal homophobic violence and murders carried out by local youths – murders which were neglected (and in some instances allegedly perpetrated) by officers of the NSW Police force, recent investigations have revealed.

Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) produced an excellent and very disturbing documentary on the topic last year, which you can access here to find out more about this horrific and violent history of homophobic violence, official neglect and police corruption.

So, as we headed out to the park this morning,  I thought this would be the perfect spot to SEED BOMB with queer abundance.  I got my friend Brent Mackie to film the occasion.  Check it out lovers! xx

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Unharm Queer Contingent Resources

safer_dancing_guidelines

Click here to access the safer dancing guidelines developed by rave researcher Newcombe, way back when….

rover bum

Click here access our analysis of the G care principles we extracted from our research with the ACON Rovers

09_Figure9.1

My critique of Chemsex discourse: chemsex, a case for gay analysis – where i attempt to reframe the chemsex problem so that it recognises the agency of drug user  (image courtesy of local artist Leon Fernandes ❤ )

 

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Filed under Devices and technology, Engagement with medicine, Erogenous zones, Eroticism and fantasy, Medicine and science, Online meeting sites, Parties, PNP culture, Police, Policy and programs, Self-medication, Sexual practice, Sexual Sociability

An Index of Collective Action

Queering the Direction of Present Events

gay-again

I snatched these photos from all over the place ~ collectively I take them to be grabbing back the public domain from the hands of those conspiring to restrict its terms of membership and eradicate dissidence.

The images are presented in the chronological order events unfolded …. more or less … with one or two exceptions…

(what a liberty!)

I pay tribute to all the friends and strangers who participated in the making of these snapshots and their circulation .

Thanks for sharing ~  such awesome creativity.

On the Campaign Trail …

trump-liberty

hilary-mural

adventures-into-the-unknown

protesting-forever

As Inauguration Day draws near…

ursula

…and a Queer Dance Party erupts outside the DC Residence of

Mike Pence, Vice-President Elect…

queer-pence

divine

(Divine!) 

Inauguration Day Arrives

trump-southpark

(Michelle isn’t having a bar of it)

michelle-enough

merkel

Among the first changes instituted  @Whitehouse.gov….

lgbt-whitehouse

[[BUT WAIT! …EXCITING NEW CONTENT!]]

melania-model

jewelley2(Did someone say something about draining ‘Elites from the Swamp’?!)

On the first day of Trump’s presidency

 feminists around the world act up…

march-on-washing-posteraudre-lorde-self-care

strap-on

“I’m with her”

girl-i-know-michelle

Washington DC:

trump-tower-woman

Detroit:

detroit

Atlanta:

queer-black

Washington DC

tamborine

 Sydney

(flashback: pre-emptive tambouring)

undead-tambourine

Sydney

(21 January 2017)

sydney

fuck-u-trump-sky

Meanwhile in London…

Fierce Pussy!

roar-good

Flashes of Pink

(Unknown Location) 

vulva

Hear Us Roar:

lion-mouth-dentata

PUSSY POWER!

NEXT POST:

“What is emerging Down Under??”

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Bette Midler’s Gay Science

octopus-desire-tiawan-cover

 Cover design of the National Central University of Taiwan’s Center for the Study of Sexualities‘ forthcoming edited collection, translated into Mandarin, “When Desire Meets Public Health”

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I can’t believe I’d never seen this footage of Bette Midler’s Continental Baths Concert of 1971. It is all kinds of awesome and fabulous; a cataclysmic moment of gay world-making.
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The referentiality between the runsheet and the context of reception – the song choice and the abject status and attachments of the deviants who frequented “such establishments” – is so incredibly sharp and blatant and pointed and contradictory but ultimately joyous for what it cares to acknowledge and celebrate in and about, these places, these attachments, these publics, these gatherings.
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Basically it’s like, so gay 💅🏽
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octopus-bette
 Queer Entanglements
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Among the highlights of the show (and if you can’t quite face another cultural studies rave right now, don’t take my word for it: do yourself a favour & just watch it):
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  • Midler blows queer theory’s “anti-social” thesis right out of the water within 3 minutes of appearing on stage, because (doncha know?) “It’s All About Friends!”
  • Yet only minutes later, this woman, who at first glance might have come across as some happy-clappy redemptive sex pastoralist is getting down and dirty and revelling in a celebration of shameless sexual receptivity, with all its hurt and pleasure, in a show-stopper that situates “copping it” within the same order of bodily experience/urgency/necessity as scratching an itch: A basic craving, mundane, but often unbearably intense;  practically constitutive of being bodily in this world, difficult, disturbing –  with a million ways of approaching it, each with their own risks and possibilities for connection, intimacy, transformation, disappointment, frustrated consummation, and boundless enjoyment.
  • But what the heck?  What’s a Queen got to lose?

nothing-to-lose

  • And then next up (as though out of nowhere) an Ode to Marijuana, to top things off.  The Exotic/Palliative Sublime!
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Meanwhile, in the  second half of the show there is a Nostalgia Interlude, featuring hits from the 1940s, in which Milder adopts such a cheesy, self-assured persona when she sings “Going to the Chapel” (“R’member that great song? ‘Member?”) that she verges on obnoxious. The more she goes on and on and on and gloats about how she’s “Gonna Get Married” in the morning, the more you want to slap her! And you could almost be forgiven for that violent impulse, given the sense of comfort she derives so obviously and insensitively from knowing that that moment (indeed, even the slightest rendition or reference to that moment) has whole institutions dedicated to propping it up, as is more than demonstrated in how reliably and  routinely the refrain is backed up by a troupe of captive but ecstatic chorus singers. A surefire crowd-pleaser! What a triumph!  How enchanting!  (God knows it oughta be; they’ve being doing it to death in rehearsal).
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To counteract the bulldozing affects of this excruciatingly marital personae/performance, in the next sequence Midler switches gears and gets busy turning things around:  Mainly by ramping up the rapport she has  achieved so magically with her bathhouse audience: whipping up the feels, stirring up the love, only to culminate in her finally belting out this climactic, earth-shattering, quivering chant: “Any Day Now, I will be RELEASED!!” Which sends the audience arse over tit in an utter frenzy of gay abandon and delirium.
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Which all seems natural enough in the circumstances. Earlier in the show, she had confided casually that, like many of the boys in her bathhouse audience, she’d been working her ass off for “three days now”, without barely a breather in between acts.  No wonder the show’s climax is  so enthusiastically shared among the crowd, so devastating, so intense, so overinvested – and yet so playfully and powerfully communicated.
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Such brilliant realisation, explosive as dynamite.  Bringing to mind what a good friend suggested to me recently:  It’s “All about Energy”.  A pedagogical moment of sparkling clarity.
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*******
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Filmed a year before I was born, Bette Midler’s 1971 Continental Baths Concert is such a joy to behold, I feel so lucky to have been thrown into a world in which this could be found and grasped as a precedent, and so lucky to have chanced across footage of the event … Partly because of the queer associations it reveals and multiplies: it’s so obviously and unapologetically *her* kind of audience – striving for release – the kind of release that only a few legends like Midler were gutsy enough to affirm, acknowledge, and share publicly at the time, despite the likelihood of recrimination and scorn this might bring upon her, (not to mention the loneliness and despair and rejection and ugly affects that often underwrite such collective investments, which she also movingly acknowledges).
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But mainly because she just *owns* these desires and investments – in all their messy, abject complexity – so damn indiscriminately in this performance.   The whole queer kit and caboodle. In short, she belts it out of the ballpark.  & I’m talking …..FAR OUT!!!!!
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What kind of magic is this?  So playful! So abject! So affirmative! So powerful!  Overflowing with unmitigated pleasures and gusto….💖💕
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*******
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 On a more scholarly note, I take this show to be an exemplary instance of Sexual Sociability, a concept I came up with a while back now & have been trying to work with ever since, & which has ended up becoming key, as it turns out, to my forthcoming book, The Gay Science (“Forthcoming” ….ahem…..Any Day Now”….)
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It all makes me wish you could have a YouTube clip as a book cover! (it won’t be long now, surely? I mean, “we have the technology”, right?).  What a wild wet dream it would be to have Bette Midler’s 1971 “You’ve Got to Have Friends” featuring prominently somewhere in the book’s back matter, for the benefit of friends and readers, both old and new – or maybe I could arrange to have the number just playing throughout, on autorepeat. I can’t think of a better way of acknowledging my key informants, divine muses, motivating impulses and other assorted sources of gayspiration.  Or of signalling some of my work’s key design principles – and impossible objects.
bette
 The Divine Bette Midler, Continental Baths, circa 1971
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There. Thanks for putting up with that excessive, raving gay rant.  Writing it at least ought to force me to finish the fucker.  And friends, believe me, that day can’t come quickly enough … 🌊💨🌪💥⚡️🌈🌸💦
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(Did someone say “happy ending?”  Bring it!!)

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Party Playgrounds

A Decade of Drugs In Gay Sydney – Changes, Impacts and What’s Next?

I’ll be speaking at this ACON event at the Imperial Hotel with other chemsexperts Adam Bourne,  Toby Lea, and Garrett Prestage this evening. Don’t meth it!

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The Sexuality of the Night: Violence and Transformation

Draft Contribution to Forthcoming Issue of Current Issues in Criminal Justice on the Sydney Lockout Laws

Abstract

The figure of the resident is privileged in discussions about nightlife governance. But the ‘right to the city’ extends to those who use the city, and popular opposition to the lockout concerns questions of access to public space on the part of those marginalized from these policy equations. Opponents of the Sydney lockout object to qualitative transformations in the cultural atmosphere of the city. This article argues that nightlife is of greater value than governmental measures about the prevention of violence capture. Of particular significance are the constitutive omissions of the category of ‘alcohol-related violence’. A better analysis would investigate the attraction of ‘liminal experience’ that prompts violence on the part of certain participants. It appears that certain gendered identities have not been well equipped to handle difference. At a time of reduced support for sex and gender diversity education, the state must get better at modelling capacities to live with difference.

Keywords: Night-time economies; alcohol-related violence; homophobic violence; licensing laws; urban governance; anti-social behaviour; urban safety; drug policing.

Introduction

On 21 February 2016 an estimated 15,000 people rallied peacefully in Sydney’s CBD under the banner, ‘Keep Sydney Open’. They were protesting Sydney’s lockout laws and their effect on the city’s nightlife and cultural atmosphere (McMah 2016). On 19 March, thousands danced and marched from the city to Star Casino in a bid to ‘Reclaim the Streets’, protesting the apparent hypocrisy of licensing laws that permit the Casino to remain exempt from restrictions that have shut down nightlife in other parts of the city (Roberts 2016). On 27 April, another protest – ‘Keep Newtown Weird and Safe’ – was held in response to a perceived increase in homophobic and transphobic abuse and violence in Sydney’s inner west. Organisers linked this mobilisation to the displacement effects of the lockout laws, which they claimed were dispersing hetero-masculine crowds, attitudes and violence from Kings Cross to the otherwise queer-friendly inner west (Ford 2016).

Taken together, these actions suggest that a significant number of Sydney-siders have sensed a qualitative transformation in the cultural atmosphere of the city since the introduction of the lockout laws. This perceived transformation is linked to the city’s orientation towards cultural and sexual diversity: hence the popular resonance of slogans such as ‘Keep Sydney Open’.

Nightlife, Difference and the Right to the City

The controversy surrounding the lockout laws is about more than the right to drink alcohol in the city at night, or the impact of licensing laws on jobs in the hospitality industry – though the latter is certainly significant (Cooke 2016). It is about the ‘right to the city’ claimed by youth and minoritized groups (Lefebvre 1968, Berlant & Warner 1998; Harvey 2008). Those opposing the lockout are crucially concerned with the cultural transformations associated with the state government’s clampdown on nightlife; the increasingly bullish policing of youth and social minorities in NSW; and the unprecedented increase in police powers that effectively reduce these groups’ access to public space.

Nightlife can be approached as a pedagogical space in which people learn to appreciate and take pleasure in difference (Young 1990, Jacobs 1961).  The value of this space is not captured by governmental measures concerning the prevention of violence. Indeed, cultural opposition to the lockout laws can be taken as an urgent plea on the part of those who use nightlife space for state authorities to diversify their outcome measures.

Nightlife has been an important zone of community-formation for those who have been excluded from family and the cultural mainstream, such as sexual and other minorities (Chauncey 1994, Race 2011). The gradual closure of long-standing queer venues in the inner city represents one casualty of the current approach to nightlife governance: the lockout has effectively eradicated a key space of socialization for these communities, who are often targets – but rarely perpetrators – of nighttime violence

Measures of Violence

The situation is exacerbated by the reductive nature of statistical measures used to diagnose nighttime violence. A key measure has been ‘alcohol-related violence’, but it is unclear whether this category adequately captures the qualitative nature or causes of the violence it enumerates. A significant body of qualitative work in the Drug and Alcohol field questions whether particular effects, such as violence, can be causally attributed to substance use per se (Rhodes 2002; Fraser & Moore 2011; Duff 2012; Fraser, Moore & Keane 2014; Race 2014). This literature demonstrates that the effects of alcohol and drug consumption are contingent on a range of other variables, such as context, cultures of use, affective conditions, and the socio-material arrangements in which consumption takes place, among other factors.

One of the most influential texts for regulatory approaches to night-time economies has been the work of Dick Hobbs and colleagues, which links nighttime violence to the proliferation of markets in alcohol associated with post-industrial urban entrepreneurialism (2000, 2003).   With its focus on the economic conditions within which night-time economies are promoted by urban planners, this research privileges market restrictions (licensing laws, business mix and density, policing) as key components of governmental measures to address nighttime disorder and violence. Hobbs et al. can be commended for their ethnographic attention to the socio-material arrangement of alcohol markets, its implication in violence, and the problems this can create for government. But certain elements of their analysis have been neglected in policy responses that are highly pertinent to current controversies in Sydney.

Liminal Experience

Hobbs et al. (2000, 2003) identify ‘liminality’ as a key appeal of night-time leisure precincts. This anthropological term refers to threshold experiences that involve some suspension of everyday social and sexual norms, and some experience of alterity. Liminal experiences are characterised by time-out from ordinary activities, a sense of play, and a desire for encounters with the novel and the strange. For this reason, they are sometimes characterized by a dynamic of attraction and repulsion; in certain circumstances they may prompt violence in certain subjects’ bid to reassert sovereign identity (Phelan 2001). Gail Mason and Levin Lo have used this category to understand the appeal of cultural events such as the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to heterosexual spectators (2009). For certain participants, the liminality of nightlife may be experienced as a threat to sovereign identity that is at once pleasurable and destabilising. Violence emerges as a way of re-establishing the sovereignty of the perpetrator in the moment he commits it: a way of re-asserting domination.

Qualitatively, little is known about the acts of rage and desire that perpetrators of night-time violence experience. Certainly, night-time economies are likely associated with many forms of differently motivated violence. Alcohol is no-doubt an element in the forms of liminal experience that attract huge crowds to party in the nightlife precincts of inner Sydney. But if some of this violence can be attributed to the dynamics of liminal experience, as I have speculated, then its persistence suggests that certain sorts of identity have not been well equipped to handle difference.

Crude measures such as ‘alcohol-related violence’ are unlikely to gauge the qualitative dimensions of these processes adequately.   Nor do they capture the transformation in the affective climates of precincts such as Darlinghurst and Newtown that those who have rallied against the lockout laws complain of. It bears noting that a reduction in foot-traffic – or indeed, incidents of reported violence – in traditional centres of queer social life does not necessarily equate to safety for those most vulnerable to night time violence and abuse on the basis of sex, gender or racial difference (Jacobs 1969).

It is telling that the regulatory measures adopted by the NSW government and NSW police to address public disorder and ‘anti-social behaviour’ tend to take social difference the target, rather than beneficiary, of regulatory intervention. Authoritarian strategies such as the use of drug detection dogs position sexual and racial minorities as suspects rather than citizens deserving of state protection. Police stubbornly defend these strategies despite a wealth of evidence that their detections are inaccurate and disproportionately subject social minorities to invasive intervention (Lancaster, Hughes & Ritter 2016; Race 2014; NSW Ombudsman 2016). But as events such as the illegal policing of Mardi Gras 2013 indicate, police are often complicit in the intimidation, violence and abuse that has come to characterise Sydney’s night-time spaces (Mardi Gras, Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Inner City Legal Centre, & ACON, 2013).

Conclusion

The lockout laws can be viewed as the latest episode in the increasing investment in regulatory responses to urban problems on the part of the NSW state. But there is a wealth of cultural creativity among Sydney’s youth and subcultural communities that the state could be drawing on to devise more creative, inclusive, and less authoritarian responses to the problems associated with night-time precincts. Australia’s internationally recognized response to HIV/AIDS demonstrates the value of including the denizens of nightlife in policy responses to social problems that concern them (Sendziuk 2003). It is a policy success story that stands in stark contrast to the state government’s top-down, police-heavy approach to nighttime violence. Certainly, authorities could do much better at modelling practices of handling difference in our urban centres. Authorities ignore the sexuality of the night – and its volatility – at their peril. Sydney’s reputation as an open, diverse, inclusive and dynamic city is endangered in the process.

 References
Berlant L and Warner M (1998) ‘Sex in Public’, Critical Inquiry 24 (2), 547-66
 Chauncey G (1994) Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture and the Making of Gay New York 1890 – 1940, Basic Books
 Cooke R (2016) ‘The Boomer Supremacy’, The Monthly (online), March 2016 https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2016/march/1456750800/richard-cooke/boomer-supremacy>
 Duff C (2012) ‘Accounting for Context: Exploring the Role of Objects and Spaces in the Consumption of Alcohol and Other Drugs’, Social & Cultural Geography13(2), 145-159
 Fraser S and Moore D (2011) The Drug Effect: Health, Crime and Society, Cambridge University Press.
Fraser S, Moore D and Keane H (2014) Habits: Remaking Addiction, Palgrave Macmillan
 Ford M (2016) ‘Keep Newtown Weird, Protesters Demand in Rally Over Safety Issues in Sydney Nightspot’ ABC News (online), 23 April 2016 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-23/keep-newtown-weird-protesters-demand/7353136>
 Harvey D (2008) ‘The Right to the City’, New Left Review II (53), 23-40
 Hobbs D, Lister S, Hadfield P, Winlow S and Hall S (2000) ‘Receiving Shadows: Governance and Liminality in the Night-time Economy’, British Journal of Sociology 51 (4), 701–17
 Hobbs D, Hadfield P, Lister S and Winlow S (2003) Bouncers: Violence and Governance in Night-time Economies, Oxford Univeristy Press
Jacobs J (1961) The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Vintage Books
Lancaster K, Hughes C and Ritter A (2016) ‘”Drug Dogs Unleashed”: An Historical and Political Account of Drug Detection Dogs for Street-level Policing of Illicit Drugs in New South Wales, Australia’, Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, (online first) DOI: 10.1177/0004865816642826
 Lefebvre H (1996), ‘The Right to the City’, in Kofman E and Lebas E (eds), Writings on Cities, Wiley-Blackwell
 Mason G and Lo L (2009) Sexual Tourism and the Excitement of the Strange: Heterosexuality and the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade’, Sexualities 12(1), 97–121
 Mardi Gras, Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Inner City Legal Centre, & ACON (2013) Policing at NSW Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) Events and Venues. ACON https://avp.acon.org.au/sites/default/files/Policing-at-LGBTI-Eventsand-Venues-final-version.pdf>
 McMah L (2016) ‘Thousands Protest Against Lockout Laws in Keep Sydney Open Rally’ News.Com.Au (online), 21 February 2016 http://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/news/thousands-protest-against-lockout-laws-in-keep-sydney-open-rally/news-story/3093c5f3279899db2fd0132e9d10d5bc>
  NSW Ombudsman (2016) Review of the Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001, Office of the New South Wales Ombudsman
Phelan S (2001) Sexual Strangers: Gays, Lesbians, and Dilemmas of Citizenship, Temple University Press.
 Race K (2011) ‘Party Animals: The Significance of Drug Practices in the Materialisation of Urban Gay Identity’ in Fraser S and Moore D (eds), The Drug Effect: Health, Crime and Society, Cambridge University Press.
 Race K (2014) ‘Complex Events: Drug Effects and Emergent Causality’, Contemporary Drug Problems 41(3), 301–334.
 Rhodes T (2002) ‘The “Risk Environment”: A Framework for Understanding and Reducing Drug-related Harm’, International Journal of Drug Policy 13 (2), 85-94
 Roberts D (2016) ‘Protestors Literally Hang Shit on Star Casino After Anti-Lockout March’, Pedestrian TV (online), 19 March 2016 https://www.pedestrian.tv/news/arts-and-culture/protesters-literally-hang-shit-on-star-casino-afte/b0071ef7-e33a-4ac7-b3b4-3a6f7f626bc8.htm>
 Sendziuk P (2003) Learning to Trust: Australian Responses to HIV/AIDS, UNSW Press.
 Young IM (1990) Justice and the Politics of Difference, Princeton University Press

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Filed under Affect, Devices and technology, Drug dogs, Erogenous zones, Eroticism and fantasy, Masculinities, Parties, Police, Policy and programs, The statistical imagination

Queer Chemistry

queer chemistry

Community Discussion

Monday 4 April, 2016

7 – 9pm

Beauchamp Hotel

Oxford St

Darlinghurst, 2010

Psychoactive substances have long been part of queer subcultural spaces and practices, from the disco culture of the 1970s to ecstasy use at the huge dance parties of the 1980s and 90s to the more recent emergence of ‘chemsex’.
But new contexts of consumption and new substances (such as G and crystal meth) have given rise to new dangers as well as new pleasures.
 
In this community discussion, we explore with queer cultural producers and health professionals how to construct spaces of pleasure and safety and promote queer cultures of care that accept that drug use might be in play.

 

The discussion will be facilitated by Kane Race, author of Pleasure Consuming Medicine and an organiser for Unharm. There will be lots of opportunities for audience participation, input and discussion.

 
For more event details, please visit https://www.facebook.com/events/255888971413198and register your interest.

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Filed under Affect, Devices and technology, Drug dogs, Engagement with medicine, Erogenous zones, Eroticism and fantasy, Masculinities, Medicine and science, Online meeting sites, Parties, PNP culture, Police, Policy and programs, Sexual practice