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Movement and Change: Perspectives on Urban Gay Tourism and Gay Community Building of the Past
AuthorAuer, John Jeffery
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This research examines the movement and changes associated with people who historically identified as gay and today are part of the LGBTQ spectrum, both through long-term moves to establish new homes and become part of new communities as well as through episodic, short moves as tourists. This dissertation addresses questions about how and why movement associated with gay urban enclaves has changed as well as considers the ways in which gay tourism has changed during the last half century. One set of questions address how age played a role in the rise and decline of gay urban enclaves in big cities and also how this related to the corresponding increases in gay community building in small cities and rural areas. The argument is made that increased movement of middle-aged and older-aged gay men away from big city enclaves to small cities and rural areas since about 2000 has contributed to the loss of gay urban enclaves and the loss of gay culture within them. At the same time, gay culture has developed in small cities and rural areas as middle-aged and older-aged gay men move in and contribute to gay community building. Another set of questions address how and where annual events for gay tourism flourished and changed in the late 1970s and early 1980s and the conditions associated with these events that elicited backlash against gay people. The focus is on the National Reno Gay Rodeo, which became the largest annual gay tourist event in the U.S. until local politicians and conservative activists twice attempted to stop the rodeo. This backlash ensued because gay people were labelled as inherently immoral as were the gay-friendly spaces associated with the rodeo. A final set of questions address how and where more permanent gay places in cities – bathhouses – developed and then were eliminated. Serving both as centers for gay community building and gay tourism in the early 1970s, nationwide there was an expansion of gay bathhouses in cities. Yet, the sole gay bathhouse in Las Vegas, Nevada was eliminated as part of a backlash against the Sexual Revolution.