Tag Archives: Queer Space

From Subterranean to Suburban: The Landscapes of Gay Outlaw Writing

The landscapes of sexually dissident American writing have long been conceived as entirely urban. The work of John Rechy, for instance, is always situated in the nocturnal, subterranean shadows of urban public space. The seclusion of these so-called “outlaw territories,” combined with their propinquity to mainstream society, creates an environment of near-total sexual freedom, but also a site which supposedly has the potential to disturb the city’s conventional population. However, the altogether animalistic territoriality of Rechy’s outlaw landscapes suggests instead the naturalness and timelessness of outlawry and the inevitability of conflict, rather than the possibility of change. Dennis Cooper has similarly been celebrated as an “outlaw writer”, yet much of his work is located in what amounts to the most conventional American landscape conceivable: suburbia.

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