Places Journal excerpt: The Association of (Gay) Suburban People

By Tim Retzloff
Places Journal

Making SuburbiaThe time was March 1978; the setting was American Legion Post 374 in Berkley, a few miles north of Detroit; the event was a dance. In many ways an ordinary Saturday night in suburbia; yet not ordinary at all. The dance was sponsored by a gay organization called the Association of Suburban People, and it allowed the 150 or so attendees, mostly closeted, to stake a claim, temporarily and discreetly, to public appearance in the middle-class Republican stronghold of Oakland County, Michigan — and to do so in a time of entrenched homophobia andnational anti-gay campaigns. The ASP newsletter boasted that the group had “liberated one American Legion Hall.” In an era when it was assumed that gay space was urban space, the Association of Suburban People sought to assert its presence beyond the Motor City — and ultimately to recast the relationship of gays with suburbia. To borrow a phrase from Michel de Certeau, “they escaped it without leaving it.” 1

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