Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Imperial Desire/Sexual Utopias: White Gay Capital and Transnational Tourism" by M. Jacqui Alexander

In “Imperial Desire/Sexual Utopias: White Gay Capital and Transnational Tourism,” the second chapter of his book entitled Pedagogies of Crossing, M. Jacqui Alexander initiates a discussion surrounding Western constructions of tourism and their implications, specifically in relation to an emerging branch of consumerism: the gay consumer.

Alexander begins this discussion with an examination of the ways in which the “gay market” has been constructed and appropriated by a domineering heterosexist capitalism. He likens this to heterosexist capitalism rolling out a “welcome mat” for new gay markets, a “welcome mat” which has its roots not in hospitality, but in exploitation. This exploitation inevitably begins with an assertion of homonormativity. Alexander says that, “[h]eterosexual capital makes it appear that the only gay people are consuming people, and that the only gay consuming people are white and male…whiteness and masculinity operate together through a process of normalization that simultaneously overshadows lesbians, working-class gay men, and lesbians and gay men of color of any class. This erasure is necessary to produce this above-average homosexual consuming citizen.” In this way, “heterosexual capital” works to manufacture the gay consumer.

Furthermore, Alexander makes the case that, not only does this heterosexual capitalism manufacture a particular (blanket) type of gay consumer, but that oftentimes the oppression of gay consumers that this capitalism perpetuates (and profits from) is manipulated and used as a selling point to those same consumers. Thus, Alexander argues that capitalism markets itself to this new gay market as, “more progressive than the ‘mainstream’, progressive enough to “sell” to homosexuals and…to hold out the promise of befriending them,” even while it is contemptuous of this market. Alexander says that, “The struggle for this consumer…is thus so fierce that heterosexual capital feels entirely compelled to use the perversity of heterosexism to mold lesbian and gay men into well-behaved consumers.” (emphasis mine)
*photo credit unknown

1 comment:

  1. I just want to say I love your posts. I cant respond right because I am short on time right now but keep doing what you do!