Skip to main content

The Queerness of Home

Gender, Sexuality, and the Politics of Domesticity after World War II

The Queerness of Home

Gender, Sexuality, and the Politics of Domesticity after World War II

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.

304 pages | 57 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2021

Gay and Lesbian Studies

Gender and Sexuality

History: American History


"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

"Vider’s examination of the recent history of activist domesticity in the United States draws upon an extensive breadth of personal, public, and material sources. In its decade-by-decade chronicle the book discusses efforts to fit into the conformist households of the early Cold War, and examines later struggles to build alternative forms of domesticity, through communal living and rethinking architecture. . . . As well, despite its setting in a time of repression and epidemic, this is not a dark book. LGBTQ agency is at its core, and the narrative is a chronicle of contestation, adaptation, imagination, and, above all, creating community. In the face of hegemonic exclusion and repression, the activists in Vider’s study responded with art and humor and radical caregiving."

Journal of History

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Politics and Performance of Home

Part One. Integrations
Chapter One. “Something of a Merit Badge”: Lesbian and Gay Marriage and Romantic Adjustment
Chapter Two. “Oh Hell, May, Why Don’t You People Have a Cookbook?”: Camp Humor and Gay Domesticity

Part Two. Revolutions
Chapter Three. “The Ultimate Extension of Gay Community”: Communal Living, Gay Liberation, and the Reinvention of the Household
Chapter Four. “Fantasy Is the Beginning of Creation”: Imagining Lesbian Feminist Architecture

Part Three. Reforms
Chapter Five. “Some Hearts Go Hungering”: Homelessness and the First Wave of LGBTQ Shelter Activism
Chapter Six. “Picture a Coalition”: Community Caregiving and the Politics of HIV/AIDS at Home
Epilogue: The Futures of the Queer Home


Modern Language Association GL/Q Caucus: Alan Bray Memorial Book Award
Honorable Mention

American Studies Association: John Hope Franklin Publication Prize
Honorable Mention

Huntington Library, Shapiro Center for American History and Culture: Shapiro Center Book Prize

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press