Friday, June 21, 2019

History of gay entrepreneurship

I've been meaning to note -- Pride Week finally gets me around to it -- a lively review in the May Literary Review of Canada by Elspeth Brown of Andrea Benoit's history of the Toronto-founded cosmetics company MAC: Viva M.A.C: AIDS, Fashion, and the Philanthropic Practices of M.A.C Cosmetics. Brown, and Benoit, consider the place of "gay capitalism" in a community generally seen as oriented to social justice and against capitalist exploitation
Now a ubiquitous fixture in high-end shopping malls and consumer-­friendly airport terminals around the world, M.A.C Cosmetics emerged from Toronto’s queer entrepreneurial past. In the 1970s, young gay people created a parallel ­lavender economy where they could both be out and pay the bills. By founding bookstores, restaurants, and bathhouses, business owners did their best to make money while making good and supporting the “community.” These newly out entrepreneurs joined an older queer tradition of gay men, in particular, working in the velvet underground of the aesthetic industries — fashion, hair salons, interior decorating — where being gay was tolerated, so long as no one spoke about it publicly.
Nice cover design, UTP.

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