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The Radically Subversive Space of the Queer Home: 'Safety House' and 'Neighbourhood Watch'

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In this account of how lesbian and gay male couples practise domestic labour, I demonstrate how the queer home figures as a safe space for the enactment of 'outlaw' sexuality and non-normative gender identity. If doing domestic labour is a way of doing femininity, then how these couples engage with it can be seen to illustrate their subversion of gendered norms. Although the 'privacy' of home is often seen as a guarantee of freedom from surveillance, the queer home is scrutinised by family, friends, neighbours, and the couples themselves, in relation to their homemaking practices and ways of doing 'family'. I argue that what may appear as somewhat conservative ways of living and making identities—couple households doing domestic labour—become radically subversive when done by gay men and lesbians, making the queer home a crucial site for the construction and expression of queer identities, and the largely positive engagement with those identities of other social groups.
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Keywords: Lesbian and gay couples; domestic labour; family; gender performativity; home; safety and security

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Queensland, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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