The Queer Tourist in ‘Straight’(?) Space: Sexual Citizenship in Provincetown

By Sandra Faiman-Silva.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Provincetown, Massachusetts USA, a rural out-of-the-way coastal village at the tip of Cape Cod with a year-round population of approximately 3,500, has ‘taken off’ since the late 1980s as a popular GLBTQ tourist destination. Long tolerant of sexual minorities, Provincetown transitioned from a Portuguese-dominated fishing village to a popular ‘queer’ gay resort mecca, as the fishing industry deteriorated drastically over the twentieth century. Today Provincetowners rely mainly on tourists—both straight and gay—who enjoy the seaside charm, rustic ambience, and a healthy dose of non-heternormative performance content, in this richly diverse tourist milieu.
As Provincetown’s popularity as a GLBTQ tourist destination increased throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, new forms of “sexual outlaw” lifestyles, including the leather crowd and the gay men’s “tourist circuit,” have appeared in Provincetown, which challenge heteronormative standards, social propriety rules, and/or simply standards of “good taste,” giving rise to moral outrage and even at time an apparent homophobic backlash. This conduct interrogates how far citizens are willing to go to tolerate non-heteronormative (and at times outlaw) sexual conduct, produced by sexual minorities whose lifestyle is on the edge of the law and sometimes outside it altogether. This paper will analyze sexual tourism in Provincetown, to interrogate sexual citizenship, and both contradictions and possibilities for overcoming the sexual divide.

Keywords: Gender, Citizenship, Diversity

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.205-216. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 558.274KB).

Dr. Sandra Faiman-Silva

Professor of Anthropology, Anthropology Department, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA, USA

Sandra Faiman-Silva is Professor of Anthropology at Bridgewater State College, MA, USA, where she teaches courses on gender, Native North America, Latin America, women in myth, ethnicity, and theory. She is Grievance Officer and active in the Massachusetts State College Association (MSCA) faculty Union. She chairs the All College Committee. Research interests include political economy, Native North America, sexual citizenship, diversity, and community conflict and conflict-resolution. Her books include The Courage to Connect: Sexuality, Citizenship and Community in Provincetown (U Illinois, 2004) and Choctaws at the Crossroads: The Political Economy of Class and Culture in the Oklahoma Timber Region (Bison, U Nebraska 2000). She belongs to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and Falmouth MA No Place for Hate Committee. She enjoys photography, travel, politics, and motorcycle riding.

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