The Queerness of Home: Gender, Sexuality, and the Politics of Domesticity After World War II

The Queerness of Home (November 2021, University of Chicago Press) uncovers how LGBTQ people reshaped domestic life in the postwar United States.

From the Stonewall riots in 1969 to the ACT UP protests of the 1980s and ’90s, histories of queer and trans politics have almost exclusively centered on public activism. In The Queerness of Home, Stephen Vider shifts 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 more and more to the home as a site of connection, care, and cultural inclusion. Long portrayed as quintessential outsiders, LGBTQ people creatively reconfigured the American household to make room for their romantic and sexual relationships and communities. They struggled with the conventions of marriage, challenged the gendered codes of everyday acts like cooking, resisted isolation by reimagining the home’s architecture, and contested the racial and class boundaries of kinship and belonging through communes, shelters, and caregiving networks. Retelling LGBTQ history from the inside out, Vider reveals the surprising ways the home became, and remains, a charged site in battles for social and economic justice. LGBTQ people not only realized new forms of community and culture for themselves—they remade the possibilities of home life for everyone.