• sexuality;
  • sex work;
  • world cities;
  • tolerance;
  • homonormativity


In an era of intense “entrepreneurial” city marketing, overt attempts to court LGBT consumers and investors have been made not solely through the promotion of lesbian and gay arts festivals, pride celebrations and “specialised” cultural events, but also through “mainstream” mega-events. This paper explores this with reference to London's 2012 Olympics, an event which welcomed LGBT spectators, volunteers and participants through a series of initiatives proclaiming the Games as distinctively “gay friendly”. Considering this in the light of queer critiques—particularly those concerning homonationalism—we argue that this marketing of London as sexually diverse relied on the effacement of certain sexual practices and spaces not easily accommodated within normative, Western models of sexual citizenship, tolerance and equality. In conclusion, it is argued that the Olympics represented a moment when particular ideas of sexual cosmopolitanism were deployed to regulate, order and normalise the variegated sexual landscapes of a world city.