How Places Make UsNovel LBQ Identities in Four Small Cities

How Places Make UsNovel LBQ Identities in Four Small Cities

Japonica Brown-Saracino

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780226361116

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Drawing on an ethnography of lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) residents in Ithaca, New York; San Luis Obispo, California; Greenfield, Massachusetts; and Portland, Maine; How Places Make Us shows how LBQ migrants craft a unique sense of self that corresponds to their new homes. The book demonstrates that sexual identities are responsive to city ecology. Despite the fact that the LBQ residents of all four cities share many demographic and cultural traits, their approaches to sexual identity politics and to ties with other LBQ individuals and heterosexual residents vary markedly by where they live. Subtly distinct local ecologies shape what it feels like to be a sexual minority, including the degree to which one feels accepted, how many other LBQ individuals one encounters in daily life, and how often a city declares its embrace of difference. In short, city ecology shapes how one “does” LBQ in a specific place. Ultimately, the book reveals that there isn’t one general way of approaching sexual identity because humans are not only social, but fundamentally local creatures. Places make us much more than we might think.