Document Type

Journal Article


In contemporary western society, the idea of home is commonly associated with the site of the house. But the meaning of home is not reducible to the physical space of the house. For a house to become a home, it must be imbued with a range of meanings, feelings and experiences by its occupants. While some researchers have uncovered universal, normative meanings of home, such as privacy, identity and family, others have demonstrated that these meanings can also vary across social groups according to gender, race, class, age, disability and sexuality. This paper contributes to this body of work through a case study that explores the meanings of home for middle-class gay men and lesbians living in urban Australia. Drawing on data from 37 in-depth interviews, the paper contends that gay/lesbian meanings of home are both congruent with, but also challenge, normative meanings of home. The respondents emphasize a range of ideal meanings, but reinterpret these through the experience of being gay or lesbian in contemporary society. In the process, normative homely values are employed to resist the idealization of the heterosexual family home, and instead generate homes that affirm sexual difference.