Review: Manalansan, “Global Divas”

June 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

In the book Global Divas, Manalansan explores gay culture in New York with respect to the presence of racial differences. “New York City gay life had mushroomed into a plethora of groups and events that catered to almost every possible political, cultural, economic, physical, and social need” (65). The prominent, mainstream gay culture is mainly created by the white gays, so-called “clones”.  In order for them to reject the stereotypes, they chose to dress and act in the opposite extreme of what is expected, wearing and acting drastically masculine. They were the mainstream community and the creators of what was in style. The clones socially isolate themselves through these notable behavioral differences and create a community of their own. On the other hand, the Hawkeswood, African American gay living in Harlem, does exactly the opposite of the clones. They dress and act like non-queer people and blend into their racial communities by valuing religion and family. They are much more aware of their racial identities.

An interesting point that I came across in class was how “for gay men, being gay is above everything else”. Moreover, gay people’s interest itself was an interesting factor in the study. Gay culture seems to be much more focused on a specific theme; for some, it seemed as though gay culture was primarily focused on sexual activities. However, for others, fashion seems to be their priority.

Another interesting detail about gay culture was the formation of new family represented by “gay houses”. In the video “Paris is Burning”, an interview is done with younger teenagers who were out in the night. One of them was abandoned by his parents and another one was living by his mother. The gay community brought them new families and a sense of belonging, which is understandably an important yet not very easily accessible component of life.

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§ 2 Responses to Review: Manalansan, “Global Divas”

  • ethnolust says:

    Nice reading note. I like the inclusion of the pice, Paris is Burning, in your discussion.

    In your second to last paragraph you state, “how ‘for gay men, being gay is above everything else.'” This seems to contradict the description of difference in the earlier part of the post. I encourage you to clarify that Manalansan’s chapter complicates the notion of a singular gay culture with any 1 primary interest. He illustrates the ways that gay cultures in NY often vary according to race, ethnicity, and class. Of course, if I have misunderstood your statement, please feel free to clarify.

    • Esther Lho says:

      I do not necessarily mean that gay people have a single interest. “For gay men, being gay is above everything else.” I am not portraying this as gay men having a primary interest. Being gay can mean a lot of different things to different people. Some people may think that fashion is their core method of expression and consider it the most prominent part of gay culture as to other people who may think otherwise. However, I do think that gay people have a tendency to have an underlying basis of their identity in what they do and how they act, their sexuality being a crucial component.

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