Despite its undeniably important role in shaping individual and collective queer identities, anti-gay violence is a relatively under-analyzed or overlooked subject for historians and public historians. Nevertheless, the physical sites of these events remain a valuable, if emotionally complex tool for providing insight into the ways in which use of the built and natural environment has led to conflict and violence between queer and heteronormative communities. Analyzing two of Boston's most popular cruising spots, the Charles River Esplanade and Back Bay Fens, this paper explores the intersection of visible queer land use and a significant increase in anti-gay violence in the city during the 1970s and 80s. Instead of crimes of opportunity or robberies, this work draws direct connections between gay-bashing, the symbolic meanings of queer land use, and the heterocentric political and law enforcement instruments used to address the violence.


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pp. 226-246
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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