Queer suburbs

(Sub)urban spaces and sexualities in the Global North

Authored by: Andrew Gorman-Murray , Catherine J. Nash

The Routledge Companion to the Suburbs

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138290235
eBook ISBN: 9781315266442
Adobe ISBN:


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While the suburbs house the majority of the population in the Global North, narrow notions of suburban life prevail, including social norms that underpin “expected” sexual identities and relationships. The ideal of the heterosexual nuclear family is often synonymous with both imaginaries of suburban life and their translation into urban planning and practice. In this context, this chapter trains a lens on “other” sexualities and their relationships with suburban life, morphologies, and imaginaries, focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans (LGBT) and queer experiences of the suburbs in the Anglophone Global North. We begin by discussing the development of gayborhoods, or inner-city suburbs associated with LGBT identities and communities (often dominated by gay identities and communities). We then consider how “mainstream” middle-to-outer-ring suburbia has been understood and experienced by gay men in comparison to gayborhoods. However, gender intersects in different ways with sexual orientation in the construction of suburbia, so the third section brings attention to lesbian spaces across the inner and outer suburbs. Finally, we return to the inner-city to discuss changes in LGBT and queer urban spaces. Transformations and dissipations of some gayborhoods have been paralleled by the coalescence of new “queer neighborhoods” in some cities. In our discussions, we draw on published research from diverse disciplines regarding urban spaces and sexualities in the Anglophone Global North.

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