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Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence

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Since the 1970s, a key goal of lesbian and gay activists has been protection against street violence, especially in gay neighborhoods. During the same time, policymakers and private developers have declared the containment of urban violence to be a top priority. In this important book, Christina B. Hanhardt examines how LGBT calls for "safe space" have been shaped by broad Since the 1970s, a key goal of lesbian and gay activists has been protection against street violence, especially in gay neighborhoods. During the same time, policymakers and private developers have declared the containment of urban violence to be a top priority. In this important book, Christina B. Hanhardt examines how LGBT calls for "safe space" have been shaped by broader public safety initiatives that have sought solutions in policing and privatization and have had devastating effects along race and class lines. Drawing on extensive archival and ethnographic research in New York City and San Francisco, Hanhardt traces the entwined histories of LGBT activism, urban development, and U.S. policy in relation to poverty and crime over the past fifty years. She highlights the formation of a mainstream LGBT movement, as well as the very different trajectories followed by radical LGBT and queer grassroots organizations. Placing LGBT activism in the context of shifting liberal and neoliberal policies, Safe Space is a groundbreaking exploration of the contradictory legacies of the LGBT struggle for safety in the city.


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Since the 1970s, a key goal of lesbian and gay activists has been protection against street violence, especially in gay neighborhoods. During the same time, policymakers and private developers have declared the containment of urban violence to be a top priority. In this important book, Christina B. Hanhardt examines how LGBT calls for "safe space" have been shaped by broad Since the 1970s, a key goal of lesbian and gay activists has been protection against street violence, especially in gay neighborhoods. During the same time, policymakers and private developers have declared the containment of urban violence to be a top priority. In this important book, Christina B. Hanhardt examines how LGBT calls for "safe space" have been shaped by broader public safety initiatives that have sought solutions in policing and privatization and have had devastating effects along race and class lines. Drawing on extensive archival and ethnographic research in New York City and San Francisco, Hanhardt traces the entwined histories of LGBT activism, urban development, and U.S. policy in relation to poverty and crime over the past fifty years. She highlights the formation of a mainstream LGBT movement, as well as the very different trajectories followed by radical LGBT and queer grassroots organizations. Placing LGBT activism in the context of shifting liberal and neoliberal policies, Safe Space is a groundbreaking exploration of the contradictory legacies of the LGBT struggle for safety in the city.

30 review for Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence

  1. 4 out of 5

    6655321

    i wanted to like this book more than i did? like, there are some *really* good parts to this and i think this book is worth reading (5 stars on *you should read this*, 3 stars on *this is fun to read*). i think my biggest problem comes from the sheer volume of work that Hanhardt is attempting to address (the history of discourses of safety & space in "queer" history) and thus some parts feel a little sketchy (despite the mentions of transwomen being targeted in the "cleanup" of the piers very li i wanted to like this book more than i did? like, there are some *really* good parts to this and i think this book is worth reading (5 stars on *you should read this*, 3 stars on *this is fun to read*). i think my biggest problem comes from the sheer volume of work that Hanhardt is attempting to address (the history of discourses of safety & space in "queer" history) and thus some parts feel a little sketchy (despite the mentions of transwomen being targeted in the "cleanup" of the piers very little ink is spilled on transwomen's relationship to the space except for via Sylvia Rivera who is given minimal coverage). Also there seems to be a lack of analysis on how hate crime laws actually have worked out for the LGBTQ+ community (Queer (In)Justice paints this very clearly: they haven't helped and police still brutalize LGBTQ+ folx) and, honestly, and this may be just because of my own theoretical perspective: the history of the policing of queer spaces is sorta never touched on except for occasional mentions of bar raids & Stonewall & police sensitivity training as a goal for reformist organizations. But honestly, read it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This book provides a truly intersectional analysis of neighborhood political organizing around violence and how it connects to the protection of private property and gentrification. It's a solid, clearly argued and very well documented book that covers a tremendous amount of historical and territorial ground in a relatively brief narrative. Consider this, it covers the LGBT organizing in neighborhoods from the 1960s-present, including the Castro, the Central City and Tenderloin in San Francisco This book provides a truly intersectional analysis of neighborhood political organizing around violence and how it connects to the protection of private property and gentrification. It's a solid, clearly argued and very well documented book that covers a tremendous amount of historical and territorial ground in a relatively brief narrative. Consider this, it covers the LGBT organizing in neighborhoods from the 1960s-present, including the Castro, the Central City and Tenderloin in San Francisco and the West Village and Piers in NYC. It critically engages queer theory, Marxist geography, feminist theory, and a ton of work in criminal and policy studies, without being dry, bombastic or obfuscatory.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    is this book too dense or am I? Hanhrardt tries to do a whole lot and I don't find it particularly accessible. is this book too dense or am I? Hanhrardt tries to do a whole lot and I don't find it particularly accessible.

  4. 5 out of 5

    James

    Hanhardt argued that anti-violence neighborhood organizing by white LGBT activists, using politics of respectability to gain visibility, helped push gentrification and backlash by queer POC. She looks to gay neighborhoods of Castro, Center City and Tenderloin in San Francisco, and West Village, Piers, and Greenwich Village in NYC, in the years proceeding Stonewall and the decades since, while concentrating on the safe street patrols, antiviolence programs and access to private/public money, and Hanhardt argued that anti-violence neighborhood organizing by white LGBT activists, using politics of respectability to gain visibility, helped push gentrification and backlash by queer POC. She looks to gay neighborhoods of Castro, Center City and Tenderloin in San Francisco, and West Village, Piers, and Greenwich Village in NYC, in the years proceeding Stonewall and the decades since, while concentrating on the safe street patrols, antiviolence programs and access to private/public money, and activism to recognize hate crimes in order to transform homosexuals from a criminal class to the perpetrators of violence being criminals. These movements often targeted youth of color, and attempted to clear out working class queer people of color who lived within gay neighborhoods that had, by the early 2000s achieved respectability. While antigay law enforcement still occurred, it tended to be against the most vulnerable. “Quality of life” campaigns tended to target sex workers and drug addicts, calling for more policing. Key Themes and Concepts -Militant gay liberalism put on the show of militant radicalism but often used regressive manners to achieve goals, such as targeting youths of color. FIERCE rose to argue against police, capital, and respectability. -Gay activists argued for visibility, which put them at more risk for violence. However, it also defined gayness as a white category and often erased working class people of color, especially youth, and sometimes lesbians and trans people. -Metronormative: where standards of ideal neighborhood are applied to all places not equal in access. Spatial fixes are gentrification and mass incarceration. -Threat of violence tends to be a moral bookend for struggles of upper middle class gay men, as opposed to continuing existence for disclosed queer poc.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    I was very excited to discover this book since I am an officer for Seattle's Q-Patrol revival and I've found that there are surprisingly few histories of early gay/queer safety patrols. Therefore, even though only about a third of this book is about that in particular I'll be recommending it to everyone in the group. It's primarily useful as presentation of why, while earlier patrols can be a good inspiration, we need to think of ourselves as a definite rupture with them in practice. Since libera I was very excited to discover this book since I am an officer for Seattle's Q-Patrol revival and I've found that there are surprisingly few histories of early gay/queer safety patrols. Therefore, even though only about a third of this book is about that in particular I'll be recommending it to everyone in the group. It's primarily useful as presentation of why, while earlier patrols can be a good inspiration, we need to think of ourselves as a definite rupture with them in practice. Since liberals so often make a show of abhorring violence, Hanhardt helpfully reminds us that earlier street patrols were almost all liberal rather than radical organisations, focusing too much upon "cleaning up the streets" and police inaction against hate crimes, rather than the police themselves as instigators of violence.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Celia

    After a certain point I think you just have to admit that you're "reading" a book as a grad student is -- that is, you've read enough sentences to have something to say, but you're not actually internalizing anything you're reading or really engaging with the text... After a certain point I think you just have to admit that you're "reading" a book as a grad student is -- that is, you've read enough sentences to have something to say, but you're not actually internalizing anything you're reading or really engaging with the text...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Josh Mintanko

    Solid scholarship with deeply perceptive insights. Hanhardt deftly entangles strands (often contradicting) of queer history, urban studies, and economic change. Students in these areas will find her approach instructive. That said, the book was less compelling than I had hoped, perhaps because I read it after I finished some personality-driven narrative histories. Hanhardt emphasizes the role of movements, not individuals, and while this approach give rewarding insights and combats unhelpful "gr Solid scholarship with deeply perceptive insights. Hanhardt deftly entangles strands (often contradicting) of queer history, urban studies, and economic change. Students in these areas will find her approach instructive. That said, the book was less compelling than I had hoped, perhaps because I read it after I finished some personality-driven narrative histories. Hanhardt emphasizes the role of movements, not individuals, and while this approach give rewarding insights and combats unhelpful "great men" tendencies in historical scholarship, it sometimes reads a bit dowdy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    willowdog

    Dense, historical, well-researched account of the various organizations and groups from the early 60's though the present which sought to guarantee safe spaces for GLBT individuals and neighborhoods, and the difficulties of finding that difficult road along class and race lines. Dense, historical, well-researched account of the various organizations and groups from the early 60's though the present which sought to guarantee safe spaces for GLBT individuals and neighborhoods, and the difficulties of finding that difficult road along class and race lines.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    306.76609 H239 2013

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    This book is great.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Not the book I was looking for when I read it, but one I would return to, maybe, in the future.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tony Parsons

    like 2 win/read this book

  13. 4 out of 5

    m.bryan.welton

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susie Dumond

  15. 5 out of 5

    Looi

  16. 5 out of 5

    Monique

  17. 4 out of 5

    nick

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Prince

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kumoshi

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Parker

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nadine Boulay

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katie King

  23. 5 out of 5

    Clio

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steph

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emma

  27. 4 out of 5

    Talia

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella

  29. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Johnson

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mary Bifulco

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