The Material Reality of Holidays: Gay Men, Sex and Socio-Economic Class
Sociology Newcastle University Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
In this paper I will be focusing upon the intersections of travel, sex and gay male identity. Much research and writing (e.g. Clift et al, 2002; Waitt and Markwell, 2006) has positioned that an ability to travel to and consume specific global gay sites and spaces is central to gay male identity in the early twenty-first century. Although such discourses are giving a visibility to travel experiences outside of traditional (heteronormative) understandings of tourism, they can also be positioned as limiting the range of gay identities that are both visible and normalised. In particular the paper will address the exclusion of low income Australian gay men from tourism and travel experiences. Travel has been positioned as central to understandings of western gay male identities and as being important for the material experiences of gay men in defining their own identities. However the relationship of low income gay men to travel and both their inclusion and exclusion from such travel has received limited attention. I will be drawing upon research focused upon gay men in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Sydney to further develop debates around gay men, sex and travel. The paper will include those who are excluded and in turn "invisible" from gay male travel experiences. However this does not mean that such gay men do not desire travel experiences or that they are unable to engage with values created when travel and sexual identity intersect. In so doing the paper seeks to develop discussions of gay men, sex and travel to include gay men who have been positioned as ?other? and/or undesirable through their limited economic position. The paper will present the material realities of exclusions from travel in drawing on a number of interviews. The presumed need for gay men to be able to travel to claim a valued identity position within contemporary gay male culture will be both challenged and critiqued.