Violence, cultural display and the suspension of sexual prejudice

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Tomsen, S & Markwell, K 2009, 'Violence, cultural display and the suspension of sexual prejudice', Sexuality & Culture, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 201-217.

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Prejudice and violence directed against gay men, lesbians and other sexual groups have been viewed as ubiquitous and relatively fixed phenomena in contemporary societies. This perspective must be reconciled with the increased depiction of marginal sexualities and commercial ‘queering’ of mainstream media and popular culture. This paper presents and discusses data from two sources. Firstly, interviews conducted with self-identifying heterosexuals at the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) parade suggest attendance and participation can occur through a widely enjoyed public display and the temporary suspension of sexual prejudice in such specific carnivalesque occasions. Secondly, gay and lesbian responses to an internet-based questionnaire concerning perceptions and experiences of safety and hostility at this and similar other public events, suggest an undercurrent of threat and incivility, especially in the post-event context. These data sources are not directly compared but analysed in a complementary way to throw new light on how different groups view and experience this event. Our findings reflect how sexual prejudice is a shifting and contradictory collective social practice.

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