Rethinking the origins of homonormativity: the diverse economies of rural gay life in England and Wales in the 1970s and 1980s
journal contributionposted on 02.07.2015, 08:43 by Gavin Brown
This paper rethinks the origins of contemporary homonormativity. Through an analysis of archival material from a rural lesbian and gay social movement from the 1970s, it questions the common link between homonormativity and urban neoliberalism. The Gay Rural Aid & Information Network (GRAIN) provided support to lesbians and gay men living in rural Britain and/or who were exploring the possibility of leaving the city for rural life. The network consisted of a heterogeneous mix of lesbian and gay environmentalists and ‘back-to-the-land’ enthusiasts, older lesbians and gay men who had retired to the countryside, and rural-based gay activists. Drawing on archival material relating to GRAIN, this paper traces the diverse economic practices engaged in by rural-based lesbians and gay men in this period. GRAIN members engaged in a complex mix of diverse economic practices and relations, both as a means towards their goal of living more ‘sustainably’ and in order to fit in to the changing post-productivist rural economy. By acknowledging the ambiguous sexual politics of this counter-cultural social movement, the paper questions theorizations of contemporary homonormativity which locate its origins solely in relation to neoliberal socio-economic relations and subjectivities.