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Riding the Dialectical Waves of Gay Political Economy: A Story from Birmingham's Commercial Gay Scene



In this paper I aim to contribute to work addressing the relationship between dissident sexuality and gay political economy by providing a reconfigured Marxist exploration into the ambivalence of commercial gay space. Through the application of a central theme from Marx's Grundrisse—the civilising influence of capital—I propose a means to move beyond an Althusserian view of commercial gay space as a contained ideological incorporation of capitalist hegemony, to that of a capitalist embodiment of constraints and radical possibilities. Focusing on the commercial gay scene of the UK's second largest city, Birmingham, and the survival of a monthly British Asian gay club night therein, I explore the dialectical waves of capitalism. These waves drive conditions which both differentiate identity-based production/consumption to the assimilative relations of exchange value, and accommodate moments of cultural creativity that feed off this continual differentiation and escape its economic relations in the formation of radically new use-values.