Social networks, language and identity negotiations among queer migrants in Scotland

Stella, Francesca and Gawlewicz, Anna (2020). Social networks, language and identity negotiations among queer migrants in Scotland. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2020.1863203

Abstract

In this article, we explore queer migrants’ social networks and the role language plays in how they negotiate companionship, romance and sex within queer community and diasporic environments. We draw on interviews with 56 self-identified LGBT migrants from Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union living in Scotland, UK. In doing so, we bring into conversation and critically engage with perspectives from queer migration literature and from work on migrants’ social networks and language use. In the article, we show how language underpins access to English-speaking and ethnic social circles, and how it is powerfully bound up with emotions, affect and perceptions of social proximity or distance. We argue for the need to move beyond abstract notions of queer or diasporic communities, and for an exploration of queer migrants’ sociality grounded in their personal communities, social networks and the language(s) used within them. We argue that this approach can better capture queer migrants’ complex identity negotiations and diverse sources of support and belonging, without assuming the primacy of either sexuality or ethnicity.

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