Gay and lesbian couples at home: identity work in domestic space

Andrew Gorman-Murray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Social research into gay/lesbian experiences of home has tended to posit domestic environments as alienating for gay/lesbian subjects, silencing their sexual identities. Meanwhile, work on the spatiality of sexual identity more broadly has largely focused on individuals or communities, not couples or households. In this context, this article aims to recover the importance of home for gay/lesbian couples. I explore how cohabiting gay/lesbian couples generate shared identities through domestic space, examining various ways in which these couples use homes to establish and consolidate their partnerships. Empirical data is drawn from twenty-three in-depth interviews with gay/lesbian Australians who are cohabiting, or have cohabited, with a long-term partner. The sample is largely limited to white, educated, middle-class gay men and lesbians living in urban Australia, providing an ethnographic window into the domestic identity-formation of a particular community of practice. Four key themes regarding "coupled identities" at home emerged from the interviews: (i) the importance of privacy and control at home for enabling gay/lesbian partnerships; (ii) the negotiated creation and use of shared domestic spaces; (iii) the accumulation and arrangement of household objects in those domestic spaces; and (iv) the importance of maintaining separate "personal" spaces for each partner for the well-being of the relationship.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-167
    Number of pages23
    JournalHome Cultures
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


    • gays
    • lesbians
    • gays - housing
    • home


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