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Thinking about and with gay bars demands negotiating between bars' material conditions (such as their status as businesses and their built environments) and their ideological functions (expressed in advertisements, the gay press, and activism) as representations of and even as the LGBTQ community. This book approaches gay bars as a medium: a form that gives structure to social actions and worldviews, that poses expressive conventions, and that constrains what's possible due to its inherent properties. Analyzing bars as a medium allows one to grapple with their affordances, limitations, and contradictions for cultivating queer sensibilities and for articulating community politics. This book was researched in queer archives, which are usually local, subjective, partial, and idiosyncratic. Objects in archives signal the potential for social and sexual contacts in bars, but outcomes, rather than intentions, remain speculative.

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