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The UK's premier new media criminologist - on Twitter @criminology4u, facebook and blogging on Criminology in Public and Sports Criminology.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Coming out as a Proud Parent of Queer Criminology and Shameless Trumpet blowing

Back in 1999 my ‘Perverse criminologies: The closet of Doctor Lombroso’ was published in Social Legal Studies, 8(4), 531–548. It stemmed from the work I was doing on masculinities in criminology. I was reading much feminism and a lot of gay and queer theory. It seemed obvious to me:

a) that just as there were arguments about types of feminist engagement with crime and criminology there should be gay or queer ones
b) that much of the ‘masculinist turn’ in criminology was heteronormative
c) there was mileage in the criminal and sexual connotations of ‘bent’ and
d) that given much of the common-sensical stereotyping of gay men their involvement in crime should be lower even whilst gay criminalisation/victimisation was high.

I published and moved onto other things - having already covered CCTV (1994) green issues (1991)! - and noticed little citation until a couple of years ago a number of out gay men and women Post Grads started to contact me. And now I see that Critical Criminology Volume 22, Issue 1, March 2014 is a Special Issue on Queer/ing Criminology: New Directions and Frameworks and some extensive mention of my work occurs. Not always in the direction I thought - but not for me to be legislative about this.  Here are some excerpts.

Woods merely notes in ‘Queer Contestations and the Future of a Critical “Queer” Criminology’, ‘LGBTQ populations have been stigmatized and ignored in several ways since the inception of the field of criminology (Groombridge, 1999)’

Buist and Stone in their article ‘Transgender Victims and Offenders: Failures of the United States Criminal Justice System and the Necessity of Queer Criminology’ say:

We also believe that the foundation of queer criminology, the inception of which is often attributed to Nic Groombridge’s (1999) article, Perverse Criminologies: The Closet of Doctor Lombroso, is rooted in both critical and radical criminology… 

Particularly grateful for Vanessa Panfil’s engagement in ‘Better Left Unsaid? The Role of Agency in Queer Criminological Research’ with my work, thus:
Despite gaps in the literature, contemporary empirical research at least provides more of a nuanced portrait of gay men’s involvement in crime than prior literature; historically, criminologists’ attention to gay men has focused on offenses that are (or were) sexual in nature, ranging from sodomy, to sexual “perversions,” to pedophilia (Groombridge, 1999)
the omission of gay offenders from modern criminology and other justice studies is especially interesting considering a historical pattern in the Western world of linking homosexuality with sexual deviance and criminality, both in court proceedings and scholarly research (Groombridge 1999)
I interrogate the assumption of heterosexuality inherent in much of the existing criminological research (Collier 1998); aid in Groombridge’s (1999: 545) encouragement for criminology to consider queer sexualities, as they may introduce additional “subversive knowledges” into the discipline; and answer Messerschmidt’s (1997: 119) call for criminology to be brought “out of the closet.”
Related to these concerns, a critique of approaches that seek to investigate the criminal involvement of queer populations such as those advocated by Woods (2014a) and Groombridge (1999) is their unintended consequences.
And again Gledhill ‘Queering State Crime Theory: The State, Civil Society and Marginalization’ says:
As Groombridge (1999) outlines, there is a desperate need for criminological engagement with diverse sexualities and gender identities. Historically, understandings of “homosexuality” in criminology, and most other disciplines, were centered on notions of difference and otherness
And Frederick, one of those post grads, has this to say in ‘“Delinquent Boys”: Toward a New Understanding of “Deviant” and Transgressive Behavior in Gay Men’

Public health and behavioral health researchers examine the reasons why gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM) engage in “high risk” drug and sex activities (see Groombridge, 1999) (Not sure I see myself in this role
Unfortunately, criminology, when it turns its focus towards the LGBTQ community specifically, tends to focus on crimes committed against LGBTQs, such as hate crimes (Groombridge, 1999)
Groombridge notes that criminology has a “long record of selectively ignoring deviance associated with new social movements” (1999: 532). Also, criminologists, in general, tend to view sexuality as “normatively heterosexual” (Groombridge, 1999)

I have long struggled with my identity in all this. Whilst a long term supporter of gay and other rainbow rights my work was not a ‘standpoint’ one but purely theoretical and speculative. I have suffered as much homophobia as any straight man who tends to the flamboyant but I have had no gay experiences. So I’ve been ‘passing’ as gay. Or, at least some people may think I am from my writing or dress. I’ve been reluctant to 'come out' as 'straight for fear of suggesting that I am defensive about it. Indeed if I think it will unnerve people - short of attracting violence, I am a coward - I allow people to think I am gay.

I am, as you can see, an enormously proud and boastful parent (a 'breeder', no less).

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