Monday, October 10, 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:15pm

1844 days away !


The Gang's All Queer: Gay Gang Members' Identities and Experiences.
Lunch & Learn

Speaker: Dr. Vanessa Panfil

Monday, October 10, 2016
12:10pm - 1:10pm
41 Park Row, 8th floor, Room 813

Free pizza provided! Co-sponsored by the LGBTQA & Social Justice Center, the Department of Women’s & Gender Studies, and the OHRL Faculty-in-Residence Program.


Gay male gang members seem like a contradiction in terms, since our images of urban gang members hardly line up with our cultural stereotypes of gay men. The young men discussed in this talk defy stereotypes of both gay men and gang members. Some of them are in all-gay gangs, who focus on becoming known in the gay scene, while others are members of straight gangs, who typically don’t come out to their gangs at all. Young men in all-gay gangs express genuine affection for the gangs they call their families, but still brawl with their rivals and fight back against anyone who dares to call them "faggots." The men in straight gangs may stay closeted in order to preserve their safety and reputation, but still somehow find other gay men in their hypermasculine social worlds. Regardless of gang type, these men all share the experience of growing up gay in a culture that rejects sexual and gender nonconformity. In order to persist in environments that are often repressive and perilous, they find creative (and sometimes illegal) ways to display their masculinity, gain status, and make money, all with the goal of constructing an identity as a respectable gay man. Drawing from in-depth qualitative interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with gay gang- and crime-involved men, Dr. Panfil will weave together discussions of gay identity, gang membership, and criminalized activity to show how these men negotiate visibility, confront obstacles, and build community. Their stories illustrate how they both respond to and resist societal marginalization, and will challenge what you think you know about gangs, gay men, and urban life.

Speaker Bio:

Vanessa R. Panfil is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. Her research explores how intersections of gender and sexuality structure individuals’ experiences with gangs, crime, victimization, and the criminal and juvenile justice systems. She is centrally involved in developing the emerging field of queer criminology, and coedited Handbook of LGBT Communities, Crime, and Justice (Springer, 2014). Her book, The Gang's All Queer: The Lives of Gay Gang Members, is forthcoming (NYU Press, 2017).