Lesbians and bisexual women are vulnerable to homelessness precipitated by a multitude of factors, spanning macro to micro levels. Through the mechanics of ideologies, representation, stigma, stereotype and subsequent social regulation, marginalization operates on a macro scale, rendering all lesbians and bisexual women in a position of vulnerability to homelessness and social exclusion. This manifests as institutional marginalization, which, in the field of housing creates a lack of statutory support and subsequent dearth of homeless services and support resources available to them. However, micro level analysis shows that individual lesbians and bisexual women demonstrate different levels of vulnerability to homelessness, according to their personal circumstances, but specifically affected by the intolerance and unpredictability of other people’s reactions to their sexuality.
This article discusses the lack of recognition of (homeless) lesbians and bisexual women in policy and statutory spheres as mirrored by neglect in housing studies/housing research and questions the role of compulsory heterosexuality, normalisation, ideologies and social regulation in perpetuating and sustaining this. One would expect that given the evidence of prolific homophobia, discrimination and marginalization that lesbians and bisexual women have historically experienced - from wider society; within homelessness policy and homeless service provision; and in some academic spheres – they would qualify for explicit recognition and incorporation within the inclusion agendas and equal opportunities strategies associated with the UK homelessness policy (Part VII Housing Act 1996). This is, however, not the case.
This paper aims to contribute to the development of sophisticated conceptualisations of sexuality in housing studies through highlighting that it is a valid and valuable, socio-spatial issue, intricately bound up (although currently over-looked) in homelessness discourse and research.
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