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Big yellow sanctuary: cross-dressing, gender, and performance in self-storage in the UK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalGENDER PLACE AND CULTURE
Volume27
Issue number9
DOIs
Published2020

King's Authors

Abstract

Finding safe spaces to perform one’s identity is a widely acknowledged issue for individuals who cross-dress because it remains a taboo practice in much of society. It is therefore often kept a ‘closeted’ secret from family, friends, and colleagues. Prior work in other contexts has shown that domestic materiality underwrites identity work, and through their careful display and arrangement possessions can reconcile fractured selves. However, whilst home is a key site for the (re)construction of self, it is not necessarily a safe, private and autonomous haven for all of its occupants. This paper builds on the concepts of identity management and home-making, by focusing on the ways self-storage acts as a quasi-domestic space in which to safely store, conserve and try on material aspects of self which are ‘out of place’ in the user’s domestic life. Drawing on an in-depth, object elicited interview with a cross-dressing man, this paper argues that self-storage is a place of transformation and performative potential, a sanctuary in which to be or become somebody else. Furthermore, it uses the example of cross-dressing to scrutinise and subvert the conceptualisation of ‘man caves’.

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