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Intimate mobilities: emotional embodiment and queer migration

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This paper offers theoretically-informed empirical insights into queer migration in the contemporary West. Understanding the rationales, patterns and outcomes of migration is important for scholars researching the life experiences of gay men, lesbians and other non-heterosexuals. This paper advances knowledge of queer migration by interpreting interview data from thirty-seven gay and lesbian Australians. The analysis is prompted by a qualitative and narrative turn in migration studies, and the urgings of new mobility studies to account for the embodied and emotional dimensions of migration. Interrogating gay and lesbian Australians' migration narratives over the life course, I scrutinise the emotionally embodied nature of queer migration. I focus on the body as a vector of displacement, and explore how emotions, desires and intimate attachments shape queer mobilities. Respondents particularly emphasised the roles of 'comfort' and 'love' in relocation decisions. I found that these feelings interleaved with three patterns of emotionally embodied queer migration in the data—coming out, gravitational and relationship migrations. The embodied affects of comfort played a key role in coming out and gravitational migrations, while the exigencies of love underpinned relationship migration.

Keywords: Australia; embodiment; emotions; intimacy; mobility; queer migration

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: GeoQuest Research Centre, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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