Policing Ourselves


For the Atlanta release of our special issue of The JOSH (Journal of Sexual Homos, Arts & Sciences PROJECTS, NY), we held a reading at the now defunct Outwrite Bookstore on Wednesday, February 23, 2011. Our dress (handcuffed and in police uniforms) was a reference to some of our conversations about the 2009 police raid on the Atlanta leather bar, The Eagle. If cruising is a mode of interaction that allows for personal contact in a manner not recognizable to those who might police such exchanges, the field notes about the police undercover activities at the Eagle read as particularly cruisey. The notion that the police were in plain clothes and avoiding being noticed, but that Eagle customers were visible within the space and possibly at times uniformed seemed ironic. During the raid itself, any notion of play and trust was obliterated by the real violence. We have considered this a reflection on Freud’s uncanny in which the intimately familiar and the eerily unknown become strangely indecipherable.

The work was also a reflection on the at times productive and contentious tensions between on the one hand feeling an ownership over history and setting the record straight and on the other hand our inclination to playfully invent and intervene into histories as a way to raise questions about how we engage the past and to what ends.