The birth of the (gay) clinic; BE Colloquium, 2013.10.24

The birth of the (gay) clinic

Michael Brown, UW Geog
Larry Knopp, IAS, UW Tacoma

Looking at (post-War) 60s and 70s health and government alizarin of gay male health, which mostly focused in ‘venereal diseases’. (until 1983 until when AIDS became the main focus of gay men’s health.)

Seattle area gay rights, attitudes, etc. we’re pretty progressive even in the 1960s, well before the national curve. Homophile orgs operated and some gained access to good business circles and such.

Little was known about STDs at the time, much less STD in gay community.

Foucault… Not why questions but how questions
Medical gaze

Chris Philo paper, 3 spaces/spatialities of the clinic:

1. Disease tabled. Space of configuration. 2d quantifying etc
2. Disease embodied. Space of localization. 3d
3. Disease institutionalized.

Studies at UW by physicians researchers into STDs. 

Dbl edged sword: gay men became stigmatized as associated with disease but also gay men became (kinda) accepted as citizens with health needs, etc. Also became governable.

Extending Philo 3 spaces

4. The Gay City. To treat the body/illness, researchers had to learn the gay geography of the city. “An ethnographic imagination”. Practitioners have to gather local knowledge and context in order to treat the body. Qualitative understanding of sites and processes of disease.

5. The Gay Practioner. Growing embodiment and participation in the gay community by medical practitioners. Reduced stigma generally. But docs could police and enforce norms and disciplining by the gay doctor.

6. The Gay Community. Governmental it’s working through ppl’s identification and association with a community. Multiple clinics open for African-Americans, youth in UDistrict, women’s clinic in Fremont.


Governmentality Through Community… emerged.

Outside of Seattle, did you encounter any evidence that study of STDs, centered on gay men, lead to the public misconception of gays as disease carriers? In other words, did the quantification of stds in gay men fuel this idea. 

? Was this governmentality through community largely instituted through local gatekeepers sort of as a respectability politics or were there pressures through municipal leaders?

Northwest lesbian and gay history project… Both Larry and Michael are involved.

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