By Mark W. Turner
Backward Glances is the 1st homosexual city heritage of its type, studying those matters throughout quite a number cultural fabric, together with novels, poems, pornography, journalism, homosexual publications, work, the web, and fragments of writing concerning the urban corresponding to Whitman's notebooks and David Hockney's graffiti. It presents a brand new approach of knowing what it potential for a guy to stroll the streets of the trendy Western city.
Backward Glances is aimed toward all these drawn to the tradition of the town, queer cultural historical past and the appropriation of public space.
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Extra info for Backward Glances: Cruising Queer Streets in London and New York
Slipping him out of his jeans and sucking his cock, the ecstatic kiss, the discovered tattoo. The combination of an understanding of a specific place with an understanding of a specific urban practice allows for – in fact, enables – cruising to take place. You are hardly surprised when the scene transpires in the way it does. It’s a work of pornography, after all, with its own narrative demands. But what if the parts don’t add up? Surely sometimes a saunterer is just a saunterer? Occasionally, a window shopper is just a window shopper?
Cruising is a practice that exploits the ambivalence of the modern city, and in so doing, ‘queers’ the totalizing narratives of modernity, in particular, flânerie. Neil Bartlett – novelist, translator, theatre director, performance artist, cruiser – has written what I take to be a model of queer cultural history and personal narrative, a work that captures precisely the vision of the queer city of modernity that I find in Benjamin’s Arcades Project. Bartlett’s Who Was That Man? A Present for Mr Oscar Wilde (1988) is part biography, part autobiography, part detective narrative.
What I want to emphasize is the need to explore the meanings of their urban movement, rather than speculating about a specific sex act that is never offered, and to accept their contingency as agents walking the city. From Flâneur to Cruiser In their post-liberation, celebratory guide for gay men in the 1970s, The Joy of Gay Sex, Charles Silverstein and Edmund White discuss explicitly the practice of cruising and offer a helpful ‘how-to’: There’s an art to cruising and it has a lot to do with timing and with the eyes.