Sex in the city: Privacy-making practices, spatialized intimacies and the environmental risks of men-who-have-sex-with-men in South India.

Published: June 13, 2011


Employing community-based approaches, the spatialization of sexual risk among men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) at local cruising spots was explored in South India. To move beyond individualistic and structural deterministic understandings of sexual risk the study examined how erotic associations and networks formed and dissolved as social actors connect to each other through their material world (which includes other bodies). Crowding was important for safely establishing intimacy in public but also created contexts of discrimination and violence, particularly for feminine-acting males. Risk itineraries drawn by MSM anticipated fluctuating levels of risk, enabling them to avoid dangerous situations. Although sexual typologies connected gender nonconforming males to HIV prevention networks, they reinforce the exclusion of men who did not identify with sexual minority identities. Future work must therefore address the HIV prevention needs of men whose identities cannot be readily separated from "the general population".

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