This website is an interactive academic
tool for CEA-UNH course:
Gay Paris:
Culture, Society, & Urban Sexual Identity

CEA GlobalCampus | Spring 2009
UNH Course Code: GEN230
Credits: 3 | Location: Paris, France

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Gay Triangle in le Marais

On February 4, we will be going on a study excursion - an exploration of the Marais. Please bring your cameras and notebooks for the blog and the map.

"Within a triangle whose points are formed by the Centre Georges-Pompidou, the Saint-Paul metro, and the Picasso Museum, Parisian homosexual life begins anew every evening."

_Frédéric Martel
The Pink and the Black: Homosexuals in France since 1968

Musée Picasso: 5 rue du Thorigny

We will start at Au Coeur Couronné, on rue de la Ferronnerie. "This street is a promise: it announces the Marais and leads us into it."

Leaving Les Halles and taking rue de la Reynie, then rue Saint-Merri, we arrive at Beaubourg.

The main artery of the Marais is rue Saint-Croix-de-la-Bretonnerie.

We will continue down rue Saint-Croix and at the intersection of rue Vieille-du-Temple is the bookstore Les Mots à la Bouche.

Not far, at 49 rue Blancs-Manteaux was the gay piano bar Le Piano Zinc, which opened in 1981.

Today, Le Gai Moulin, at 10 rue Saint-Merri, revives the spirit of the original, Le Piano Zinc.

The tour will culminate with the new LGBT Center, at 63, rue Beaubourg.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Great Gay Hope


JANUARY 28, 2009, 10:00 PM
The Great Gay Hope

PORTLAND, Ore. — The politician was in his 40s, a rising star, a man with the pilot light of ambition burning bright. The intern was just 17, sorting through emotions about his sexuality, a boy who said he needed someone to mentor him in the political world.

They had an affair, just kisses at first, the teenager said. And then, after his 18th birthday, sex, and a relationship that was hidden from the public eye.

Came the mayor’s race and allegations of the affair. The politician, with the sturdy patriotic name of Sam Adams, denounced the rumors as scurrilous — they played to the worst stereotypes about homosexual predators, he said. How dare you.

The storm passed. The new year opened with Portland as the largest city in the United States with an openly gay mayor. At the same time, people flocked to theaters to watch a film by Portland’s own Gus Van Sant, the story of Harvey Milk, the pioneer gay politician, treated as a second-class citizen for most of his life.

It all came crashing down over the last two weeks, a bonfire of pride, lies and hypocrisy. The mayor admitted that he had lied about the affair, had smeared his accuser, and had urged the boy — a kid with the improbable name of Beau Breedlove — to lie as well. He did it all to get elected, he said.

Sam Adams, mayor of Portland, Ore. (Ross William Hamilton/The Oregonian, via Associated Press)
“I want to apologize to the gay community for embarrassing them,” the 45-year-old mayor, now contrite, told his city last week. Three newspapers — including a popular gay paper — called on him to resign.

Sam Adams was the Great Gay hope. Mayor today. Senator tomorrow. And beyond?

“I personally gave Sam Adams my vote, my support, my friendship and my money,” wrote Marty Davis, publisher of Just Out, the city’s gay newspaper. “In return, he took my trust.”

So now, instead of breaking barriers, Sam Adams has stirred old hatreds. Daily, people have gathered outside City Hall to shout at one another and wave placards.



This week, after seven days of soul-searching, the mayor said he would stay on the job, though he faces a criminal investigation by the Oregon Attorney General.

“I know I have let you down,” the mayor said in a videotape message to the city. “And I ask your forgiveness.”

Portland is The City That Works, a slogan not just emblazoned on official vehicles, but taken to heart by its citizens. It is perhaps the most European of American cities, literate and small-scale urban, a pleasant surprise around every corner. And it is often a city of firsts, doing things well and sensibly before any other.

But with the betrayal by Sam Adams, the city now offers an old lesson in timeless and tawdry human weakness. The story of Sam Adams is not about gay predators or gay anything, because Portland has seen this civic morality tale once before, with a heterosexual mayor.

It’s about why voters should never give their hearts over completely to politicians. As a class, they are inherently insecure — a character flaw at the base of all politicians, from Bill Clinton to Bob Packwood. And they lie, with rare exceptions — a hard thing to say at a time when the doors of possibility are open to leaders yet untarnished.

Some years ago I watched Neil Goldschmidt completely dominate a room of fellow politicians. He was the Great Jewish Hope — Portland mayor at age 32, transportation secretary for President Jimmy Carter at age 39, and then governor of Oregon.

People who saw Goldschmidt in his prime wondered when this guy would make history and become the first Jewish president. He could talk a dog off a meat wagon. He was smarter than anyone in the room. The great mystery around him was why he stepped off the political ladder.

The answer came years later, when the Willamette Week revealed that Goldschmidt had sexually abused his babysitter, starting when she was 14 and he was the married mayor of Portland. Mystery solved. The newspaper, which won a deserved Pulitzer for the story, also broke the lies of Sam Adams.

When Goldschmidt finally came clean under the newspaper’s pressure, he characterized it all as a distant mistake. But it was not anything like that. It was serial sex abuse, and if it happened now Goldschmidt would likely be in prison and a registered sex offender.

Sam Adams is no Neil Goldschmidt, his supporters say. He’s closer to Bill Clinton, a gifted politician lying about sex, these sympathizers say.

“I may have been 17,” Breedlove told The Oregonian, by way of asking people to forgive Adams. “But I was an adult and I knew what I was doing.”

Nobody at age 17 knows what they are doing, which is why they should never be having sex with middle-aged men, especially those in powerful positions.

Now Adams, with the support of some in this immensely tolerant city, will try to carry on — the first openly gay mayor of a major American city, with an asterisk.

That footnote holds a lesson, the words a wise Portlander told me long ago: Heroes are hard to come by, he said, especially when the lot you have to choose from is the human race.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times CompanyPrivacy 620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Judith Butler | Gender Trouble

One is not born a woman, but rather becomes one.
- Simone de Beauvoir

Strictly speaking, "women" cannot be said to exist.
- Julia Kristeva

Woman does not have a sex.
- Luce Irigaray

The deployment of sexuality...established this notion of sex.
- Michel Foucault

The category of sex is the political category that founds society as heterosexual.
- Monique Wittig

The very subject of women is no longer understood in stable or abiding terms.
- Judith Butler

"It is not enough to inquire how women might become more fully represented in language and politics. [Or homosexuals for that matter]. Feminist critique ought also to understand how the category of 'women,' the subject of feminism, is produced and restrained by the very structures of power through which emancipation is sought." (p. 2)

What does Butler mean when she speaks of the "ontological integrity of the subject before the law?" (p. 3)

"Am I That Name?" (homosexual? lesbian? woman? p. 3): A question produced by the very possibility of the name's multiple significations.

"If one "is" a woman [or a man, or a homosexual], that is surely not all one is; the term fails to be exhaustive, not because a pregendered 'person' transcends the specific paraphernalia of its gender, but because gender is not always constituted coherently or consistently in different historical contexts, and because gender intersects with racial, class, ethnic, sexual and regional modalities of discursively constituted identities." (p. 3)

"Is the construction of the category of women [or homosexuals] as a coherent and stable subject an unwitting regulation and reification of gender relations?" (p. 5)

Is this contradictory to emancipatory aims?

"Perhaps a coalition needs to acknowledge its contradictions and take action with those contradictions intact. Perhaps also part of what dialogic understanding entails is the acceptance of divergence, breakage, splinter, and fragmentation as part of the often tortuous process of democratization." (p. 14)

"An open coalition, then, will affirm identities that are alternately instituted and relinquished according to the purposes at hand; it will be an open assemblage that permits of multiple convergences an divergences without obedience to a normative telos of definitional closure." (p. 16)

"To what extent do regulatory practices of gender formation and division constitute identity, the internal coherence of the subject, indeed, the self-identical status of the person?" (p. 16)

"To what extent is 'identity' a normative ideal rather than a descriptive feature of experience?" (p. 16)

"The heterosexualization of desire requires and institutes the production of discrete and asymmetrical oppositions between "feminine" and "masculine," where these are understood as expressive attributes of "male" and "female." (p. 17)

Butler quotes Wittig saying, "The lesbian is the only concept I know of which is beyond the categories of sex." (p. 19)

Why does Wittig make this claim?

Foucault uses the example of Herculine (the hermaphrodite): why?

"Gender is performatively produced and compelled by the regulatory practices of gender coherence. Hence, within the inherited discourse of the metaphysics of substance, gender, proves to be performative - that is, constituting the identity it is purported to be. In this sense, gender is always a doing." (p. 25)

"The 'presence' of so-called heterosexual conventions within homosexual contexts as well as the proliferation of specifically gay discourses of sexual difference, as in the case of 'butch' and 'femme' as historical identities of sexual style, cannot be explained as chimerical representations of originally heterosexual identity. The repetition of heterosexual constructs within sexual cultures both gay and straight may well be the inevitable site of the denaturalization and mobilization of gender categories. The replication of heterosexual constructs in non-heterosexual frames brings into relief the utterly constructed status of the so-called heterosexual origin. Thus, gay is to straight not as copy is to the original, but, rather, as copy is to copy." (p. 31)

"To claim that gender is constructed is not to assert its illusoriness or artificiality, where those terms are understood to reside within a binary that counterposes the 'real' and 'authentic' as oppositional. As a genealogy of gender ontology, this inquiry seeks to understand the discursive production of the plausibility of that binary relation and to suggest that certain cultural configurations of gender take the place of 'the real' and consolidate and augment their hegemony through that felicitous self-naturalization." (p. 33)

Foucault and Queer Theory

Tamsin Spargo

"Sexuality is a cultural product that cannot be regarded as a simple extension of a biological process." (p. 45)

Questions to Think About:
  1. What do the terms ‘queer’ and ‘tolerance’ signify to you?
  2. How does homosexuality challenge our most basic assumptions of sexuality?
  3. Was the sexual revolution of the 1960’s the impetus for ‘freeing’ us sexually? What would Foucault think? (p. 12)
  4. What is constructivism? Essentialism?
  5. What is an identity? What is an essential identity?
  6. What are identity politics?
  7. What are the problems with basing politics on identity?
  8. If homosexuality is (as Foucault asserted) a cultural product, then, what is heterosexuality? (p. 45)
  9. And why is it viewed as the natural, normal sexuality?
  10. How do we privilege heterosexuality in discussions about homosexuality? 
From the reading:
“The realm of sexuality has its own internal politics, inequities and modes of oppression. As with other aspects of human behaviour, the concrete institutional forms of sexuality at any given time and place are products of human activity. They are imbued with conflicts of interest and political manoeuvring, both deliberate and incidental. In that sense, sex is always political. But there are also historical periods in which sexuality is more sharply contested and more overtly politicized. In such periods, the domain of erotic life is, in effect, renegotiated.” Anthropologist Gayle Rubin (p. 5)

- What does Rubin mean when she says that 'sex is always political' in this quotation?

- Do you think we may, in fact, be in a historical period where sex is being renegotiated, as Rubin suggests?

Michel Foucault (1926-1984)
  • Poststructuralist (philosopher)
  • Focused on power/discourse
  • A homosexual who died of AIDS 1984
  • Point of departure for queer theory/theorists
  • According to Foucault: sexuality is not a natural feature or fact of human life but a constructed category of experience which has historical, social and cultural, rather than biological origins (p. 12).
  • Foucault was less concerned with what ‘sexuality’ is, than with how it functions in society (p. 13).
  • According to Foucault, modern homosexuality is of recent origin. For him, homosexuality is a constructed category – not a discovered identity. (This does not mean that sexual relations between men and between women did not happen before this time period p. 17).
  • In his words: “Homosexuality appeared as one of the forms of sexuality when it was transposed from the practice of sodomy onto a kind of interior and androgyny, a hermaphrodism of the soul. The sodomite had been a temporary aberration; the homosexual was now a species” (p. 20).
  • Thus, homosexuality became pathologised as perverse and deviant (to be treated).

Important Vocabularly
  • Episteme: (paradigm) the structure of thought which epitomizes the thinking of a particular age. It is the underground network of assumptions and thought processes, the 'mind-set,' which limits the scientific, philosophical, and cultural thinking of an age.
  • Discourse: the accumulation of concepts, practices, statements, and beliefs that are produced by an episteme. A particular episteme gives rise to a particular form of knowledge (discourse). 
  • Truth: knowledge that exists within a particular discourse and is bound up with power.
  • Power: a matter of complex relationships rather than property inherent in certain classes or individuals

Queer Theory
  • ‘Queer’ is defined as against the normative.
  • Queer Theory: a collection of intellectual engagements with the relations between sex, gender and sexual desire.
  • The view of ‘self’ shifts in queer theory: the individual is not seen as atomistic, or as a holder of objective knowledge or an essential identity. The self is a socially constructed fiction (p. 50).

Judith Butler
  • Foucault’s analysis was almost exclusively male focused. 
  • She agrees with Foucault: sexuality is discursively produced and she also claims that gender is a product of culture. 
  • Gender, for Butler, is performance .“It is through the stylized repetition of particular bodily acts, gestures and movements that the effect of gender is created as ‘social temporality. We do not behave in certain ways because of our gender identity, we attain that identity through those behavioral patterns, which sustain gender norms’”(p. 53).
  • We are, according to Butler, identities without essences, subjects in process.

Who is Eddie Izzard?

Julian Clary?

What Do "Women" Want?


January 25, 2009
What Do Women Want?


Meredith Chivers is a creator of bonobo pornography. She is a 36-year-old psychology professor at Queen’s University in the small city of Kingston, Ontario, a highly regarded scientist and a member of the editorial board of the world’s leading journal of sexual research, Archives of Sexual Behavior. The bonobo film was part of a series of related experiments she has carried out over the past several years. She found footage of bonobos, a species of ape, as they mated, and then, because the accompanying sounds were dull — “bonobos don’t seem to make much noise in sex,” she told me, “though the females give a kind of pleasure grin and make chirpy sounds” — she dubbed in some animated chimpanzee hooting and screeching. She showed the short movie to men and women, straight and gay. To the same subjects, she also showed clips of heterosexual sex, male and female homosexual sex, a man masturbating, a woman masturbating, a chiseled man walking naked on a beach and a well-toned woman doing calisthenics in the nude.

While the subjects watched on a computer screen, Chivers, who favors high boots and fashionable rectangular glasses, measured their arousal in two ways, objectively and subjectively. The participants sat in a brown leatherette La-Z-Boy chair in her small lab at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, a prestigious psychiatric teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto, where Chivers was a postdoctoral fellow and where I first talked with her about her research a few years ago. The genitals of the volunteers were connected to plethysmographs — for the men, an apparatus that fits over the penis and gauges its swelling; for the women, a little plastic probe that sits in the vagina and, by bouncing light off the vaginal walls, measures genital blood flow. An engorgement of blood spurs a lubricating process called vaginal transudation: the seeping of moisture through the walls. The participants were also given a keypad so that they could rate how aroused they felt.

The men, on average, responded genitally in what Chivers terms “category specific” ways. Males who identified themselves as straight swelled while gazing at heterosexual or lesbian sex and while watching the masturbating and exercising women. They were mostly unmoved when the screen displayed only men. Gay males were aroused in the opposite categorical pattern. Any expectation that the animal sex would speak to something primitive within the men seemed to be mistaken; neither straights nor gays were stirred by the bonobos. And for the male participants, the subjective ratings on the keypad matched the readings of the plethysmograph. The men’s minds and genitals were in agreement.

All was different with the women. No matter what their self-proclaimed sexual orientation, they showed, on the whole, strong and swift genital arousal when the screen offered men with men, women with women and women with men. They responded objectively much more to the exercising woman than to the strolling man, and their blood flow rose quickly — and markedly, though to a lesser degree than during all the human scenes except the footage of the ambling, strapping man — as they watched the apes. And with the women, especially the straight women, mind and genitals seemed scarcely to belong to the same person. The readings from the plethysmograph and the keypad weren’t in much accord. During shots of lesbian coupling, heterosexual women reported less excitement than their vaginas indicated; watching gay men, they reported a great deal less; and viewing heterosexual intercourse, they reported much more. Among the lesbian volunteers, the two readings converged when women appeared on the screen. But when the films featured only men, the lesbians reported less engagement than the plethysmograph recorded. Whether straight or gay, the women claimed almost no arousal whatsoever while staring at the bonobos.

“I feel like a pioneer at the edge of a giant forest,” Chivers said, describing her ambition to understand the workings of women’s arousal and desire. “There’s a path leading in, but it isn’t much.” She sees herself, she explained, as part of an emerging “critical mass” of female sexologists starting to make their way into those woods. These researchers and clinicians are consumed by the sexual problem Sigmund Freud posed to one of his female disciples almost a century ago: “The great question that has never been answered and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my 30 years of research into the feminine soul, is, What does a woman want?”

Read the rest of the article by clicking here. (You will need to create a membership for the NY Times if you don't have one - simple process).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Teaching Approach


* I believe:
  1. Knowledge comes from a multitude of voices and perspectives.
  2. Personal experiences are an important source of knowledge.
  3. Teaching is a political act. I will not impart objective knowledge to you. I do not believe such a concept exists. I question and reject the idea of the professor as the 'privileged voice.'
  4. Every participant in our class (including me) comes to the table with knowledge that is situated and 'incomplete.'
* I will strive for:
  1. The democratic creation of knowledge in our classroom through egalitarian relationships.
  2. A collaborative learning environment where your ideas are contributions to our collective knowledge.


  1. Students are responsible for their own learning.
  2. My active-learning/discussion-based approach in the classroom requires active student participation. This entire process is contingent upon student preparation. You must do your reading.

"Feminist education - the feminist classroom - is and should be a place where there is a sense of struggle, where there is a visible acknowledgement of the union of theory and practice, where we work together as teachers and students to overcome the estrangement and alienation that have become so much the norm in the contemporary university. Most importantly, feminist pedagogy should engage students in a learning process that makes the world 'more real than less real.'"
-bell hooks

Gay Paris Map

View Larger Map

You have all received an invitation to become contributors on our online Gay Paris map. The map shown here was created by last semester's students. It may be interesting to look at as you start out in our course.

Here is a link to our map, which is currently quite bare...soon to change.


Welcome to our course blog.

On this site you will find reading and study guides, a forum to ask questions and to continue our in-class discussions, as well as other useful links. In addition, you will create posts on this site throughout the semester. This blog will also be a tool we will use when creating our maps of Paris.

Everyone needs to become a blog author/contributor. I have sent an invitation to become a contributor by email to all of you. Please follow the links and the steps to make this happen. It will involve creating a google account if you do not have one already. This is a simple process, which we will run through in class.

This course is meant to be interactive. This inherently means that I want your input. I am interested in what you want to learn, how you want to learn it and why. I would love this class to be one long discussion forum - a place where you tease out your ideas and employ them by adding to and challenging other people's thoughts.

Your participation in the blog is meant to be free flowing and continuous. I will never require you to post. Posting, however, is a great way to participate in the course. A good percentage of your final grade is based on your participation. The blog will become a forum for you to actively create knowledge in our class and to shape the direction of our class on the whole.

This semester will be spent engaging with Paris. The city is a pivotal part of what we will learn and how we will learn it. It is the context for everything we will discuss, read and learn.