Manuel Betancourt

Queer Instagram, or How “Sex in Public” gets the Web 2.0 treatment

May 5, 2014 · in Queer

The following is picture essay intended to re-frame Warner & Berlant’s pioneering essay “Sex in Public” in the digital age. 

All images have been embedded from Instagram. If you would like me to take them down from the post, feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly.

What not to do:

Don’t share photos or videos that show nudity or mature content. If you wouldn’t show the photo or video you are thinking about uploading to a child, or your boss, or your parents, you probably shouldn’t share it on Instagram. The same rule applies to your profile photo. Accounts found sharing nudity or mature content will be disabled and your access to Instagram may be discontinued.

(From Instagram‘s “Community Guidelines”)

“Sex in Public”
by Michael Warner & Lauren Berlant (1998)

“There is nothing more public than privacy”

“Now, gay men who want sexual materials or who want to meet other men for sex will have two choices: they can cathect the privatized virtual public of phone sex and the internet; or they can travel to small, inaccessible, little-trafficked, badly lit areas, remote from public transportation and from any residences, mostly on the waterfront, where heterosexual porn users will also be relocated and where the risk of violence will consequently be higher.”

“Heterosexual culture achieves much of its metacultural intelligibility through the ideologies and institutions of intimacy.”

“Indeed, one of the unforeseen paradoxes of national-capitalist privatization has been that citizens have been led through heterosexual culture to identify both themselves and their politics with privacy.”

“Community is imagined through scenes of intimacy, coupling, and kinship; a historical relation to futurity is restricted to generational narrative and reproduction”

“Making a queer world has required the development of kinds of intimacy that bear no necessary relation to domestic space, to kinship, to the couple form, to property, or to the nation”

“Queer culture has found it necessary to develop this knowledge in mobile sites of drag, youth culture, music, dance, parades, flaunting, and cruising-sites whose mobility makes them possible but also renders them hard to recognize as world making because they are so fragile and ephemeral.”

“The heteronormative culture of intimacy leaves queer culture especially dependent on ephemeral elaborations in urban space and print culture”

“Queer culture has learned not only how to sexualize these and other relations, but also to use them as a context for witnessing intense and personal affect while elaborating a public world of belongings and transformation.”

“We are used to thinking about sexuality as a form of intimacy and subjectivity, and we have just demonstrated how limited that representation is.”