First Advisor

Kiara Hill

Date of Award

Spring 6-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Sexuality, Gender, and Queer Studies and University Honors


Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies




Queer, Disco, Dance Music, Disidentifcation, Diva, AIDS




From 1974 to 1979, disco music was a cultural phenomenon, gracing radio airways and dance clubs across the United States. Just as disco music reached peak popularity, growing disapproval from rock fans and other Americans who saw the genre and scene as overly lavish, too effeminate, and too racially inclusive, forced disco out of American mainstream favor. This paper proposes a viewpoint that contextualizes disco culture as integral to the lives of queer people in New York City, analyzes the prejudices that accompanied the anti-disco movement, and situates the mainstream death of disco as an early cultural consequence of America's turn towards conservatism. I used close-readings and archival analysis coupled with an intersectional queer theory approach to understand the many complexities of disco's history and significance to the queer community. My research reveals that discotheques operated as liberatory spaces for queer communities - before, during and after the AIDS epidemic. Contrary to the findings detailed in other pieces of disco scholarship, the anti-disco movement hinged its hatred on more than just homophobic rhetoric - racism and femmephobia also informed the sentiments of those who hated disco.

Persistent Identifier