You’ve probably heard of the idea of a queer “scene,” perhaps most often from people who don’t care for it. But what, exactly, is this scene? Who’s a part of it? Who isn’t? Who decides? Is there more than one? What happens when a scene evolves—or when it doesn’t? These are the questions we’ve gathered a group of writers to consider for an Outward special issue on “the Scene” in LGBTQ life today. You can read all of the stories in the issue here, and you can listen to a full episode of the Outward podcast covering more of the queer scene by subscribing on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your audio.
In my late 20s, on the brink of coming out as a lesbian, I did what most “baby queers” eager to connect to their people usually do: I turned my nascent identity into a research project. I read all the books on queer history, coming out essays, and articles on hookup culture in an effort to discover where to find other lesbians like me. The consensus: gay bars and dance clubs.
In retrospect, this wasn’t exactly surprising. Bars and underground dance parties have historically played a pivotal role in the queer community and our culture, providing a safe space to meet and hook up with other queers. Constantly harassed, assaulted, and discriminated against in mainstream spaces, LGBTQ individuals needed raves, private parties, and gay bars in order to firm up their communities and escape societal persecution. When the community finally decided to fight back after decades of mistreatment and police brutality, the first punches were thrown in spaces like the Stonewall Inn, site of the famous 1969 riot that we’re now commemorating 50 years later as a milestone in the march toward equality. And it was in the literal debris of these clashes that queers gathered to organize the social movements that have yielded so much fruit today. Read more via Slate