Sociology Major Examines the Role of Historical and Local Queer Spaces in Social Movements

May 5, 2018
By: Kim Caisse

Worcester State University sociology major Ashley DziejmaSenior Ashley Dziejma, a sociology major, combined her interest in historic spaces in the queer rights movement and readings in her Social Movements class to develop a research project that she presented at the Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity on April 18, 2018.

“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) politics have been influenced by the socio-political use of space,” according to Dziejma’s project abstract. “Here, space is studied through a Marxist lens where space is a product of social forces and serves as a tool of thought and action.”

Dziejma wanted to explore “how the internet and current queer spaces I had experience with fit into the history of the use of space in activism.” Such spaces that made history were written about by Leslie Feinberg and part of ballroom culture. Assigned readings by Alberto Melucci and Gill Valentine also played a part.

“The paper built upon the hypothesis that queer spaces are vital to safety and resistance, and that queer spaces are created by, and help further, resistance to heterosexist oppression,” Dziejma explained. “Through a critical analysis of queer texts coupled with participant observations of gay nightlife in Worcester, this paper chronicles the importance of queer spaces, gay and lesbian bars, challenges to those spaces, and the internet.”

In addition to presenting “The Production of Queer Spaces as Social Movements: A Study in Gay Nightlife in Worcester” as a Commonwealth Honors Project at the CSC, Dziejma presented it at the UMass Undergraduate Research Conference.

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