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Pride festivals are both political and celebratory in nature and often include parades, marches, street fairs, musical performances, and dance club events. Many view pride festivals as spaces used to create a unified group identity. While such a view is partially accurate, the festival is also a space in which positions of centrality and marginality within the queer community are negotiated, particularly for gendered and racialized groups. With over one million participants and roughly 300 musical artists performing on multiple stages, Pride Toronto is one of the largest pride festivals in the world. As a leader on the global stage, Pride Toronto has struggled in recent years to create a festival that reflects the great diversity of the larger queer community in Toronto and abroad. The organization has been accused of marginalizing particular groups within the queer community through the uneven distribution of festival resources, the lack of organizational structures and advertisements aimed at particular sections of the queer community, and the placement of music stages and other areas directed at specific groups in undesirable locations and venues within the festival space. In this dissertation, I explore the role of musical discourse at annual pride festivals in the negotiation of social power and identity within the queer community. Musical discourse, which includes not only the music and performance but also the programming and staging of musical artists, media reports, protests, and town hall meetings, was one of the primary means of initiating and sustaining dialogue on social power within the queer community in Toronto. Gendered and racialized groups used musical discourse to challenge power structures within the larger queer community, which had been highlighted by the allocation of time and space within the festival area. Using a Foucauldian theoretical model of power, this research examines the connections between music, social power, identity, and queer culture.
A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Michael B. Bakan, Professor Directing Dissertation; Koji Ueno, University Representative; Frank Gunderson, Committee Member; Denise Von Glahn, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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