Publication Details

Waitt, G. R. & Gorman-Murray, A. W. (2006). Places of reconciliation: gay, lesbian and transgender place-based belongings in a regional Australian centre. Annual Conference of the Australian Sociological Association: (TASA 2006) Sociology for a Mobile World (pp. 1-10). Perth, WA: University of Western Australia.


Place-based belonging is a key concern of geographical work on sexuality. Marginalised through practices of heterosexism and homophobia, gay men, lesbians and other sexual minorities have a heightened awareness of where they belong – of where they can perform sexual difference. Much research here focuses on place-based belonging in metropolitan centres. There is less consideration of how sexual minorities sustain place-based belonging in regional centres, which are also believed to exhibit higher levels of homophobia. Drawing on in-depth interviews, we examine how sexual minorities generate place-based belonging in Townsville. We argue that place-based belonging be understood as an ongoing relational process where subjects and places are mutually-constituted. Individuals’ everyday practices are simultaneously place-making activities, through which subjects actively make places of attachment. We argue that sexuality intertwines with other dimensions of self in these place-making practices, so that belonging is often a function of reconciling different axes of identification. As such, to understand these nuances we must be sensitive to individual life stories, and not force generalisations across differences. To this end, we selectively present, and draw similarities and differences across, three individual narratives of place-based belonging in Townsville. This offers insights into how sexual minorities born in regional centres can ‘belong’ and ‘be themselves’.