Plateaus and Afterglows: Theorizing the Afterlives of Gayborhoods as Post-Places

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


A number of commentators have acknowledged the decline of gayborhoods and the concomitant emergence of non-heteronormative diasporas in societies
where sexual and gender diversity is normalized (Ghaziani 2015; Nash and GormanMurray 2017; Bitterman 2020). Academic studies tend to focus on the new lives
that are being led beyond the gayborhood and the diminished distinctiveness of the
territories left behind (e.g. Ghaziani 2014). In contrast, this chapter explores the
possibility that gayborhoods can continue to influence sociospatial dynamics, even
after their physical presence has diminished or disappeared altogether. Individuals
and collectives may still be inspired by the memories, representations, and imaginaries previously provided by these erstwhile places. Indeed, the metaphor of a
non-heteronormative diaspora relies on an ‘origin’ from which a cultural network
has dispersed. In this sense gayborhoods can continue to function as post-places,
as symbolic anchors of identity that operate even if they no longer exist in a material form, even if they are used simply as markers of ‘how far the diaspora has
come’. The proposition that gayborhoods are becoming post-places could be more
fully theorized in a number of ways, but the approach here is to adapt Deleuze and
Guattari’s (1987: 22) notion of plateaus, which denote a “region of intensities whose
development avoids any orientation towards a culmination point or external end”.
From this perspective gayborhoods are not spatial phenomena that reach a climax of
concentration and then disappear through dissipation. Instead, they can be described
as becoming more intense and concrete in the latter half of the twentieth century
before gradually fading after the new millennium as they disperse gradually into a
diaspora as memories, habits, and so forth. Put another way, non-climactic gayborhoods leave ‘afterglows’, affects that continue to exert geographical effects in the
present and near future. This conceptualization is consequential for theory, practice,
and political activism, and ends the main body of this edited volume on a more
ambitious note.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Life and Afterlife of Gay Neighborhoods
Subtitle of host publicationRenaissance and Resurgence
EditorsAlex Bitterman, Daniel Hess
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print) 978-3-030-66072-7
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameUrban Book Series
ISSN (Print)2365-757X
ISSN (Electronic)2365-7588


  • Afterglow
  • Assemblage
  • Deleuze
  • Guattari
  • LGBTQ+
  • Place
  • Plateau


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