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Making Space in a Militarized Global City: The Racial and Gendered Politics of Producing Space for Black Queer Women in San Diego

  • Author(s): Carney, Christina
  • Advisor(s): Espiritu, Yen
  • El-Tayeb, Fatima
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation, Making Space in a Militarized Global City: The Racial and Gendered Politics of Producing Space for Black Queer Women in San Diego, examines histories of black queer women during different historical moments that defy a politics of respectability in relation to sexuality, class and gender performance. I re-read archives and conduct interviews with a different focus that not only explains why histories of certain black queer women are invisible, but also what these stories can reveal about black life in general. The dissertation is organized into three chapters. In the first chapter, “Racializing and Gendering Sin in Early 20th Century San Diego,” I use Maya Angelou’s autobiographical text, Gather Together in my Name (1974), to discuss how her entrepreneurship efforts within San Diego’s sex tourism industry in the 1940s – in which many of her clients were white U.S. service men – defied normative black respectability. Chapter 2, “Alternative Safe Spaces,” uses the oral history of Granville “Bubba” Hughes, a black trans woman who migrated to San Diego in 1965 from Arizona, to understand how gay neighborhoods are not always safe for black queer women. Through her narrative I examine how mixed-race, working-class neighborhoods figure as alternatives to gay enclaves in the mid-20th century. In Chapter 3, “Properly Political,” I show how black lesbian and gay activists, beginning in the 1980s, challenged racism within the San Diego gay neighborhood, which later inspired the Mackey-Cua Project – a multi-generational LGBT group. This project explains how and why certain narratives are absent from the historical and social imaginary. I show how black queer women make alternatives forms of space that diverge from masculinist revisionist histories, gay enclaves as safe spaces, and consumerism catering to the national body politic.

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