Meeting Report: ‘Embodied Offline to Online Interactions: New Media and Body Practices in Urban Space’

Thank you to lecturer Phevos Kallitsis for coming all the way from Porstmouth to talk at our Gender and Sexuality meeting. It was really interesting to hear how apps such as Grindr have impacted the experience of the gay community in Portsmouth.

Using data from his research, Phevos superimposed mapping information gleaned from Grindr over a map of the city of Portsmouth to demonstrate how the gay community is spread over the city. He discussed the changing scene in Portsmouth, informing us that the number of gay men in the city has shrunk in recent years (hence the same profiles reappearing again and again on Grindr). Yet, the lesbian community is still thriving which is evident in their yearly Pride celebrations on the streets of the city. He added that his data demonstrated that Portsmouth occasionally hosts gay tourists who enter via the port. This movement can be tracked on Grindr, since it displays a sudden gathering of gay men in the same area who are interested in meeting someone other than the same local faces they encounter daily on Grindr.

It was sad to hear that there is now only one gay bar in Portsmouth, but Phevos did not believe that Grindr was to blame and stated that it was more a resistance to commercialization since cruising areas maintained their popularity. He also made some very interesting points about the blurring of the public and private space. He explained that Grindr is not the safe haven it appears because users can deploy the app to blackmail other users who have still not come out to their family and friends.

Sophie and I (Maria) would like to thank everyone who attended. We look forward to seeing you all again at the next meeting on the 7th November at 4pm in HumSS280. The paper is by Elizabeth Kajs from the History of art department at University of Bristol. The title is ‘Connecting Creativity and Reproduction in Kãthe Kollowitz’s Artistic Practice’. Abstract to come soon!



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