Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Seeking security: Gay labour migration and uneven landscapes of work

Document type Article
Author Mills, Suzanne
Author Lewis, Nathaniel M
Journal Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space
Volume 48
Date 2016
ISSN 0308-518X
Pages 2484-2503


Previous research has understood the migrations of gay men and other queer people through a lens of identity development, whereby relocation is driven by processes of coming out and consuming particular urban amenities. Meanwhile, labour geographers have largely overlooked sexuality, seeking to understand work-related migration in relation to gender, race, citizenship and the collective organization of workers. Drawing on the migration narratives of gay-identified men living in Ottawa, Canada, and Washington, DC, USA, we argue that the norms governing gender and sexuality within various workplaces, economic sectors and locales continuously influence migration related to work and inextricably linked processes of social reproduction. In particular, we explain how the affective needs of gay workers both deflect them from and attract them to particular locales and workplaces. In their migration destinations, gay workers tend to also transform the norms of social reproduction within workplaces and sectors. While gay workers may use migration to successfully negotiate the uneven landscapes of inclusion and visibility in North America, their agency is also constrained by the ongoing of regulation of sexuality in both workplaces and social and community environments.