Sex in public : public performances of gay sex

Date
2011-05
Authors
Low, Stephen Andrew
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Abstract

Sex in public: public performances of gay sex examines how (re)presentations of gay sex in the theater challenge, complicate, and interrogate the concepts of public and private in contemporary culture. Specifically, Sex In public argues that (re)presentations of gay sex in the public forum of the theater forces audiences to confront how the concepts of public and private circumscribe, influence, and control the lives and bodies and queer white men. Employing the queer theoretical works of Michael Warner (Publics and counterpublics and The trouble with normal), Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (Epistemology of the closet) and Michel Foucault (The history of sexuality volume I) Sex In public specifically considers how (re)presentations of white gay male sexuality and sexual activity are particularly effective sites of analysis when confronting hetero-normative hegemonic divisions of public and private. Through in-depth performance and textual analyses of Tim Miller's seminal queer solo performance piece My queer body and Peter Carpenter's dance theater piece Bareback into the sunset, Sex in public illustrates how sex and sexuality performed in public, which provoke both the participants and a witnessing audience to feel shame, can construct community and build coalitions across social identity categories. In Sex in public, I claim that gay male performance in the forum of the public space of the theater is a "space of circulation in which it is hoped that the poesis of scene making will be transformative, not replicative" (122) and which carries with it "the original hope of transforming not just policy but the space of public life itself" (124).

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