Why relationships matter post-disaster: Focus on queer-identified young women and gender diverse people who ‘grew up’ in Post Katrina New Orleans

Conference paper


Overton, L. 2022. Why relationships matter post-disaster: Focus on queer-identified young women and gender diverse people who ‘grew up’ in Post Katrina New Orleans. LGBT+ Liberation: LGBT+ lives and issues in the context of normativities. UCU Conference. Online 02 - 04 Nov 2021 pp. 1-7
TypeConference paper
TitleWhy relationships matter post-disaster: Focus on queer-identified young women and gender diverse people who ‘grew up’ in Post Katrina New Orleans
AuthorsOverton, L.
Abstract

Little is known about the impact of disasters on queer people. Post-disaster research, even within the rich field of Gender and Disaster scholarship, has traditionally focused on adult, heterosexual women, usually with children (Bradshaw 2015; 2013). However, some research
does discuss wider relationships such as women’s relationships with other women (heteronormatively) (David 2017; Enarson 2000). This paper discusses the importance of relationships for queer-identified people post-disaster drawing on my own empirical research in Post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans in 2012 where I did life history interviews with “young women” and “gender diverse” people who identified within a queer spectrum. Sexualities have been neglected in disaster research generally (Goldsmith, Raditz and Mendez 2021; Gaillard, Gorman-Murray and Fordham 2017; Overton 2014). Whilst this is changing and Disasters and Sexualities is growing as a sub-field, we still know very little about the wide range of relationships and how these are impacted post-disaster or how important they are in post-disaster recovery, particularly for queer women and gender
diverse people. Relationships can be trickier to navigate for queer people, particularly family, and to a lesser extent, friendships, as well as the fact that queer relationships tend to be more invisibilised in popular culture. This paper demonstrates that post-disaster relationships are important to understand by examining how social spaces are a crucial provider of support for queer communities post-disaster; the importance of family and community relationships with sexual identity including the conflicts between family and sexuality such as worry and concern about family acceptance; finding like-minded people enabled a more positive outlook and contributed to a greater sense of assuredness around identity; physical distance from familiar surroundings became an important way to explore identities; and powerlessness for younger folks through lack of choice and lack of consultation. A particularly interesting finding from my research is linked to the post-disaster ‘window of opportunity.’ Whilst scholars have been sceptical of the so-called positive change that is said to come from a disaster, known as the post-disaster ‘window of opportunity’ (Byrne and Baden 1995), my research found that disaster through being an ‘abnormal’ time opened up new, yet temporary space to make big decisions, particularly around their sexualities that did not exist in times of ‘normality.’

Sustainable Development Goals5 Gender equality
10 Reduced inequalities
11 Sustainable cities and communities
Research GroupLaw and Politics
ConferenceLGBT+ Liberation: LGBT+ lives and issues in the context of normativities. UCU Conference
Page range1-7
Publication dates
Online15 Nov 2022
Publication process dates
Deposited06 Apr 2023
Accepted26 Sep 2022
Output statusIn press
LanguageEnglish
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