Imagining Queer Domesticity (Roundtable)

Women's and Gender Studies / Global Anglophone

Mary Wilson (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth)

This panel will examine literary, cultural, and legal texts to investigate the space and the concept of home seen queerly. It will focus primarily on an Anglo-American context, though papers from the broader Anglophone world will be considered.

From the rise of the marriage equality movement until same-sex marriage rights were guaranteed in 2014 (in the UK except Northern Ireland) and 2015 (in the United States), the legal struggle for LGBT rights has become coterminous in the popular imagination with the right to marry. Groups supporting and opposing same-sex marriage rights speak in the language of domesticity: either insisting that queer families are “just the same” or demonstrating threat posed by same-sex marriage to traditional ideas of domestic life. Such an equation of gay marriage with queer domesticity, however, unproductively domesticates queerness.

This panel seeks to take a long view, exploring the intersections and divergences among the ways that contemporary literary and cultural discourses imagine queer domesticity in a post-Obergefell environment with earlier representations of queer domestic life. What imaginative possibilities might we discover by looking back at texts produced before legal same-sex marriage could itself be imagined? What continuities and deviations appear when we put an early 20th-century queer text alongside one produced in the early 21st century? How are defining historical traumas, such as the First World War and the AIDS crisis, understood and experienced through domestic life? How might those enable us to reimagine queer domesticity now?

This panel will examine Anglo-American literary, cultural, and legal texts to investigate the space and the concept of home seen queerly. How can imaginative texts help us to think through the complex relationship of queerness and domesticity, about what domesticity is and could be in our changing worlds? How do legal and historical contexts shape the kinds of queer domesticities that can be imagined?