In search of lesbian space?: The experience of Manchester’s gay village
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This paper discusses the socio-cultural processes that shape homosexual leisure space, specifically examining the experiences of lesbians. In doing so, it seeks to contribute to the emergent body of tourism research focusing on gendered and sexualized leisure. Its primary contribution to gender tourism research, however, is to provide further support for the conceptualization of leisure processes and spaces as both heterosexist and androcentric. The paper thus begins by briefly discussing the socio-cultural construction of gay space and the powerful dynamics that underpin its emotional geography. It then briefly discusses the study's methodological approach before presenting and discussing the findings of the research conducted with lesbians in Manchester's gay village - one of the UK's first and most successful gay and lesbian quarters. The paper reveals how sexuality and gender combine to constrain women's consumption of public leisure space and suggests that, whilst homosexual spaces have emotional and psychological importance as empowering places in a heterosexual world, in the case of the Manchester gay village, this homosexual space does not empower lesbians because of the homo-patriarchic power dialectics characterizing its socio-cultural construction. The women interviewed in the study do have territorial ambitions in the village - their own space is important to them, it confirms their place in the village and it supports the development of social networks for lesbians in a hostile, hetero-patriarchic world. Yet, it emerges that lesbian space is an exceptionally difficult homosexual space to claim since the more powerful and more established gay male community in that area does not particularly welcome women.
Pritchard, A., Morgan, N. and Sedgley, D. (2002) In search of lesbian space? The experience of Manchester's gay village. Leisure Studies, 21(2), pp.105-123.
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