Gays Seek Equality through Tourism, Professor Says
March 2, 2007 4:43 PM
“The color of diversity is green,” said professor Nan Alamilla Boyd when she spoke to SF State’s Women’s Department. Boyd’s speech, titled “. . . the Economic Implications of the Gay Marriage Movement,” argued that gay tourism can be closely linked with a city’s attitude toward gay civil rights.
Most cities, Boyd said, advertise directly to the gay market, including Fort Lauderdale, Milwaukee, Boston, and Philadelphia (which featured an ad of Ben Franklin flying a rainbow colored kite).
“Civil rights evolved through commercialism,” Boyd said. “Marketability demonstrates the viability of a political constituency. The contemporary gay and lesbian movement led to the production of a knowable consumer, and voter, with civil rights protection.”
Boyd said that Canada’s recognition of gay marriage in 1999 attracted gay tourists, and their millions of dollars. Marriage, according to Boyd, is also worth a lot of money. Boyd quoted a Forbes magazine article, saying that gay marriage is potentially a 16.8 billion dollar a year industry.
“The contemporary gay movement has huge monetary implications,” Boyd said. Money and ideologies can butt heads for only so long. Everything seems to be tolerated for the right price.
“Contradictions coexist,” Boyd said.
Even in a city like Rome, where homosexuality is somewhat frowned upon by the Catholic Church, gay tourists are catered to, simply because of their enormous spending abilities. “This creates a new kind of citizen,” Boyd said. “What does [the contradiction] mean for their sexual identity.”
The history of gay tourism dates back to vaudeville Boyd said, where actors would perform in drag (often bearing their chests to emphasize the point). San Francisco’s nightclubs in the early 20th Century also featured drag acts, because, Boyd said, club owners realized it drew tourists.
“It’s Dangerous,” Boyd said, “to think that market place activity equals civil rights. But production of a niche market has political power . . . that could go either way.
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