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The Queerness of Home: Gender, Sexuality, and the Politics of Domesticity after World War II (Hardcover)
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Vider uncovers how LGBTQ people reshaped domestic life in the postwar United States.
From the Stonewall riots to the protests of ACT UP, histories of queer and trans politics have almost exclusively centered on public activism. In The Queerness of Home, Stephen Vider turns the focus inward, showing that the intimacy of domestic space has been equally crucial to the history of postwar LGBTQ life.
Beginning in the 1940s, LGBTQ activists looked increasingly to the home as a site of connection, care, and cultural inclusion. They struggled against the conventions of marriage, challenged the gendered codes of everyday labor, reimagined domestic architecture, and contested the racial and class boundaries of kinship and belonging. Retelling LGBTQ history from the inside out, Vider reveals the surprising ways that the home became, and remains, a charged space in battles for social and economic justice, making it clear that LGBTQ people not only realized new forms of community and culture for themselves—they remade the possibilities of home life for everyone.
About the Author
Stephen Vider is assistant professor of history and director of the Public History Initiative at Cornell University.
"Stephen Vider’s crisply written, gorgeously illustrated book on queer domesticity traces the transformation of the private sphere over the second half of the twentieth century in the United States. Home-life for LGBTQ people, he argues, evolved from a haven from state-sanctioned homophobia, to a revolutionary alternative to the heteronormative household, before ultimately becoming a homonormative domain entitled to legal protection. Each chapter is fascinating and fresh in its own way, and add up to something more than the sum of its parts: this is an important corrective to a queer historiography that has focused almost entirely on the public sphere."
— Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution
“The Queerness of Home is a consequential achievement. Like any historian worth their salt, Vider knows how to tell a tale: this book’s prose is witty and clear as a mountain stream. More than that, it makes an irrefutable case that twentieth-century domestic environments have been momentous for LGBTQ individuals in the modern United States.”
— Scott Herring, author of The Hoarders: Material Deviance in Modern American Culture
“This strikingly original book recovers the unexpected significance of queer forms of home life to LGBTQ people and politics since the mid-twentieth century. Ranging from the gay marriages and camp cookbooks of the 1950s and 1960s to the communes, queer homeless youth shelters, and lesbian feminist experiments in domestic redesign of the post-Stonewall years, Vider provides new insights into the intimate lives and broadest political claims of queer folk—and the meaning of domesticity itself. Creatively researched, beautifully written, and unfailingly smart, this is a first-rate work of revisionist history.”
— George Chauncey, author of Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940
“An important history of how LGBTQ peoples make and sustain the homes of their choice and fight back against norms that oppress them. Vider reveals the lives, labors, and imaginations of LGBTQ home-makers, whose experiments with queer domesticities unfurl in vivid storytelling and amazing archival photographs.”
— Nayan Shah, author of Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality and the Law in the North American West