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5548 - Domesticity and the Emergence of Modern Gay Identity in Mexico City, 1920-1970.

Narratives of Mexico's gay past have emphasized how modern gay identity emerged in public spaces like he bathhouse, bars, and theaters, but this paper explores how gay identity appeared thanks to domestic gay spaces and practices. The homes and apartments of gay couples, roommates, and bachelors fostered homophile networks that pioneered modern gay identity for middle and upper class urban same-sex attracted men who focused on passing and creating long-term, companionate physical and emotional relationships with individuals of similar socioeconomic background. They adopted gender-conforming conventions of dress and behavior, creating normative self-conceptions and adopted—as George Chauncey argues in Gay New York--a “middle class preference for privacy, self-restraint, and lack of self-disclosure,” thanks to the anonymous, “normal” lives their domestic spaces facilitated. Benefiting from expanding housing and credit markets that made more residential options available in a rapidly expanding city, successful young gay professionals established a variety of residential practices. Drawing on LGBT historiography on urban spaces in the U.S., UK, and Spain, this paper explores the gay apartment subculture in class heterogeneous, mixed-used central Mexico City, and the class-homogenous middle and upper middle class residential suburban neighborhoods where affluent gays favored single-household occupied structures and modern apartment blocks. The invitation-only parties held in private flats and single-household occupied homes fostered a sense of community and provided safety from corrupt police. The paper argues that the modern gay family—and modern gay identity—emerged thanks to the domesticity pioneered in gay domestic spaces of 1920s-1960s.

Keywords: Homosexuality, Domesticity, Identity, Networks, Intimacy

Author: Macías-González, Víctor (The University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Ud States of Am / USA)

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