Reconciling self: Gay men and lesbians using domestic materiality for identity management

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Social and Cultural Geography, ISSN: 1464-9365, Vol: 9, Issue: 3, Page: 283-301

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Andrew Gorman-Murray
Informa UK Limited; Taylor & Francis Group
Social Sciences; Reconciling; self; gay; men; lesbians; using; domestic; materiality; for; identity; management; Life Sciences; Physical Sciences and Mathematics; Social and Behavioral Sciences
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Responding to calls to 're-materialize' research in social and cultural geography, this paper critically considers the role of domestic materiality in gay/lesbian identity management, and makes a particular contribution to work on gay men's and lesbians' experiences, meanings and uses of domestic environments. Prior work in other contexts has shown that the maintenance of domestic materiality - that is, the accumulation and arrangement of meaningful possessions in domestic space - underwrites identity work. Drawing on in-depth interviews with gay/ lesbian Australians, I apply this contention to gay/lesbian homemaking practices. In particular, conceptualizing identity as fractured, I argue that the maintenance of domestic materiality reconciles diverse dimensions of multi-faceted selves. Different possessions embody different facets of self - not only sexuality, but also familial connections, cultural heritage, spiritual beliefs, inter alia. Juxtaposing these objects at home brings together the diverse fragments of self, materially embedding a holistic sense of self within domestic space. Domestic materiality thus (re)unites various dimensions of fractured selves, reconciling sexual identities with familial, ethnic-cultural and spiritual identities, inter alia. This reconciliatory function of material homemaking is a key way in which sexual identities are affirmed in the everyday lives of these gay/ lesbian Australians.