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Spatial Transversals: Gender, Race, Class, and Tourism in Cape Town, South Africa
Unformatted Document Text:  and I had the opportunity to interact with a much more diverse gay and lesbian community of Cape Town. The difference between my visits in 2002 and 2005 was dramatic and it is this difference which I hope to convey and analyze below. An illustrative event that I attended in 2005 and again in 2006 was a gay shebeen tour that took place in the townships outside of Cape Town. Shebeens are unlicensed bars that are established informally in garages, basements, or in the back of houses in townships in South Africa. Historically, a few shebeens have been important sites for gay and lesbian social and political organization during the growth of the gay and lesbian movement in the 1980s and have been of particular importance to non- white gay and lesbian activists (Guvisser 1995). Shebeens served as important spaces for non-white gays and lesbians because during apartheid neither white gay social space nor white gay political space was open to blacks for various financial, social, and political reasons (Guvisser 1995). Lee’s, a shebeen in Soweto, for example, was used as a meeting place for black gay men who were part of the Gay Association of South Africa (GASA) but did not feel welcome in the GASA offices (Guvisser 1995). The 2005 inaugural gay shebeen tour, presumably the first ever of its kind, was advertised as a gay pub crawl that would provide an opportunity to “experience true African gay Shebeen culture” (2005 Cape Town Pride “festival programme” vertical foldout version). The group of around one hundred people that boarded small tour buses and went on this tour to the black townships outside of Cape Town was predominantly white and gay. Many of the “tourists” were white, gay men who lived in Cape Town only miles away. They were visiting the townships for the first time in their lives. Also on the tour were at least a half a dozen international tourists from the U.S. and Europe and a conglomerate of journalists covering the event. BBC World was shooting video and taping interviews for a radio program; two groups from Europe were shooting documentaries; and a photographer for the Pride Committee was shooting party photos for the pride festival website. When the organizer of the event was questioned about the large media presence by someone on the tour, she responded simply that there is a lot of interest in being gay and black in South Africa.

Authors: Williams, Jill.
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and I had the opportunity to interact with a much more diverse gay and lesbian community of Cape Town. 
The difference between my visits in 2002 and 2005 was dramatic and it is this difference which I hope to 
convey and analyze below.
An illustrative event that I attended in 2005 and again in 2006 was a gay shebeen tour that took 
place in the townships outside of Cape Town.  Shebeens are unlicensed bars that are established 
informally in garages, basements, or in the back of houses in townships in South Africa.  Historically, a 
few shebeens have been important sites for gay and lesbian social and political organization during the 
growth of the gay and lesbian movement in the 1980s and have been of particular importance to non-
white gay and lesbian activists (Guvisser 1995).  Shebeens served as important spaces for non-white gays 
and lesbians because during apartheid neither white gay social space nor white gay political space was 
open to blacks for various financial, social, and political reasons (Guvisser 1995).  Lee’s, a shebeen in 
Soweto, for example, was used as a meeting place for black gay men who were part of the Gay 
Association of South Africa (GASA) but did not feel welcome in the GASA offices (Guvisser 1995).
The 2005 inaugural gay shebeen tour, presumably the first ever of its kind, was advertised as a 
gay pub crawl that would provide an opportunity to “experience true African gay Shebeen culture” (2005 
Cape Town Pride “festival programme” vertical foldout version).  The group of around one hundred 
people that boarded small tour buses and went on this tour to the black townships outside of Cape Town 
was predominantly white and gay.  Many of the “tourists” were white, gay men who lived in Cape Town 
only miles away. They were visiting the townships for the first time in their lives.  Also on the tour were 
at least a half a dozen international tourists from the U.S. and Europe and a conglomerate of journalists 
covering the event.  BBC World was shooting video and taping interviews for a radio program; two 
groups from Europe were shooting documentaries; and a photographer for the Pride Committee was 
shooting party photos for the pride festival website.  When the organizer of the event was questioned 
about the large media presence by someone on the tour, she responded simply that there is a lot of interest 
in being gay and black in South Africa.


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