At the outset https://hookupdate.net/mexican-dating-sites/ of this paper, it was argued that bringing queer theory into an understanding of homelessness helps us both understand homelessness more, and the particular experiences of LGBT + people’s experiences of homelessness. Theoretically, it was argued that queer theory can open up critiques of heteronormative society that would not otherwise be recognised, and highlight the act of being queer in a society which is not queer, including the discomfort of being the ‘wrong’ body in such a society (Ahmed, 2013 ).
As such, the act of becoming homeless, for some LGBT + people might be essentially linked to their growing identity, and the move out of homelessness closely connected with stabilising identity and becoming more comfortable in a world of discomfort. This was most strikingly summarised by Kai who described that ‘My independent life since running away, I think has been such a relief from my childhood that, actually…overall it has been really amazing and really positive.’ As with the participants in McN) study, Kai, and our other participants, were acting within a ‘thin rationality’ – becoming homeless was an act by these participants, but in a context of personal abuse, exclusion or other problems, and in the broader context of a society in which being queer itself is a transgressive act.
This evidence gives agency back to our LGBT + participants – they were not solely the victims of homophobic or transphobic familial abuse, or a challenge for public health, as represented in much of the literature to date (Abramovich, 2016 ; Ecker, 2016 ). Also, unlike the participants in earlier research (Prendergast et al., 2001 ), these were LGBT + people mainly acting in a world that was accepting, at least on the surface, of their identity. Their experiences of homelessness were subsequently complex negotiations in taking risks in managing their identities, their wider personal problems and their insecure accommodation. As with ‘edgework’, being carried out by the participants in McN), our participants were taking risks in a heteronormative society which recreates and reinforces compulsory heterosexuality (Ahmed, 2013 ; Jackson, 2007 ).
The importance of home as part of their sense of identity for our participants may leave us in a theoretical quandary. As discussed, the home and the household is commonly seen as a heteronormative institution, with the heterosexual family as a key structure in replicating compulsory heterosexuality (Gorman-Murray, 2008 ; Pilkey, 2014 ). The legal changes that have resulted in greater equality for LGBT + people, and inclusion into social institutions such as marriage, has led queer scholars and activists to focus on the growth of ‘homonormativity’ (Bech, 2007 ). By this we mean gay and lesbian people and couples being accepted into heterosexual society because of the characteristics of typified heterosexuality they share, such as stable long-term relationship (Fowlkes, 1999 ) or suburban life with children (Ghaziani, 2014 ). Our findings might suggest that such homonormativity and assimilation is a vital part of LGBT + people who have experienced homelessness becoming housed or feeling at home. This would be a thin, somewhat facile use of queer theory as critique though, merely creating a new boundary between heteronormative/homonormative and queer (Browne, 2006 ).
Bringing this together with McNaughton-Nicholls’ work on the agency of people who are experiencing homelessness and their actions with a thin rationality, helps us to unpack a complex relationship between the experience of homelessness and sexual and gender identity
The evidence we have presented above, suggests that using queer as an identity term can open up greater complexities around our understanding of home in the lives of people who have experienced homelessness. The experiences of our participants after their homelessness reveal that a strong feeling of home is part of being more comfortable in a heterosexist world. This might mean attaining ‘homonormative’ goals, like a nice family home with a long-term partner, as described by Anna: ‘I have wanted to go home to someone who treated me like an actual human being’. For Kat, this was being in a home that was their style: ‘I was very sorry when I leave my flat because when I see the pictures around the flat – I really liked it. It was nearer to my style – the furniture and everything.’ In this way, our data adds the nuance of the work on queer domesticities (Barrett, 2015 ; Gorman-Murray, 2006 ; Pilkey, 2014 ) to our understanding of LGBT + homelessness, moving the latter away from a focus on ‘tragic gay’ narratives of exclusion (Bateman, 2015 ) or a focus on health risks and harm (Cochran et al., 2002 ; Corliss et al., 2011 ).