Keep Austin Queer: Performativity of Queer Space in Austin, Texas
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Queer spaces can be physical or conceptual spaces, depending on the people who are occupying them. Austin, Texas is a city known for its progressive nature, even while being a city in the middle of Texas. That being said, Austin does not have an overabundance of physical queer spaces as other cities do. The existing literature on queer spaces discusses physical spaces such as clubs and bars, public space in the form of Pride or activist events, and cyber spaces such as social media, dating apps, and websites. However, the literature does not allow participants to offer their own definition and perception of queer spaces. This study utilizes qualitative in-depth interviews with members of the LGBTQIA+ community who live and/or occupy queer spaces in Austin. Additionally, this study utilizes ethnographic field notes and personal narratives collected throughout the research process to reinforce the findings. This study explores the way queer people in Austin define queer spaces, how queer spaces shape their self-expression and identity, and whether queer spaces can be created and/or transformed. Expanding on Judith Butler’s theory of “gender performativity,” the participants’ narratives highlight that notion queer space can be performed in such a way that allows queer space to be created anywhere and in abstract ways by anyone who is queer.