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Queer politics at home: Gay men's management of the public/private boundary

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While idealised as a private space, the residential home is embedded in public relationships, and a critical aspect of homemaking is managing the public/private boundary. Geographers of sexualities show this is fraught for sexual minorities, with gay men having a heightened need to control the public/private boundary, fearing discrimination from neighbours. This paper re‐examines the ways in which gay men manage the public/private boundary and considers how these practices are entwined with social power and queer politics. Analysing data from research with gay men in Australia, I find diversity in their management of home as a site of both privacy and public connections. Some men do try to seal their homes from neighbours, fearing repercussions if their sexuality is publicised. But others engage with local communities and open their homes to neighbourly visits. This has important reparative effects for social change: by utilising the porosity of domestic borders, these men's homes become sites of queer politics that help reconcile the inequitable social power of the heterosexual/homosexual binary.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Social Sciences and Psychology, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia

Publication date: August 1, 2012


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