Comparative study of intentional communities

Comparative study of intentional communities

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Comparative study of intentional communities
Merrick, Jessica
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[Tampa, Fla]
University of South Florida
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Dissertations, Academic -- Sociology -- Masters -- USF ( lcsh )
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ABSTRACT: Moving to Florida to retire has become commonplace among American elders, though we have seldom addressed how lesbians and gay men navigate sexual identity in retirement. I undertake ethnography of three suburban, retirement-aged residential communities in Florida in which lesbians and gay men make community in order to understand how identities are produced by and within communities, the significance of suburban gay communities in the post-gay community era, and how residents from each community engage dominant discourse. Sanctuary Cove1 is a ―gay and lesbian‖ retirement community; Bayside Park is a ―women's-only‖ (lesbian) community; and Heritage Estates is a heteronormative retirement community with a growing lesbian ―network.‖ Drawing from conversations with thirty lesbians and four gay men, I compare community practices to support my argument that these are respective settings for accrediting, contesting, and privileging identities. By exploring how participants collectively construct and present sexual selves in disparate communities, I attempt to uncover the co-constitutive interaction between community and identity; while attention to the ruling relations of sexuality, sex, gender, race, and class engages the politics of privilege and stigma.
Thesis (MA)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Jessica Merrick.

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Comparative study of intentional communities
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by Jessica Merrick.
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Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains X pages.
Thesis (MA)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
3 520
ABSTRACT: Moving to Florida to retire has become commonplace among American elders, though we have seldom addressed how lesbians and gay men navigate sexual identity in retirement. I undertake ethnography of three suburban, retirement-aged residential communities in Florida in which lesbians and gay men make community in order to understand how identities are produced by and within communities, the significance of suburban gay communities in the post-gay community era, and how residents from each community engage dominant discourse. Sanctuary Cove1 is a ―gay and lesbian‖ retirement community; Bayside Park is a ―women's-only‖ (lesbian) community; and Heritage Estates is a heteronormative retirement community with a growing lesbian ―network.‖ Drawing from conversations with thirty lesbians and four gay men, I compare community practices to support my argument that these are respective settings for accrediting, contesting, and privileging identities. By exploring how participants collectively construct and present sexual selves in disparate communities, I attempt to uncover the co-constitutive interaction between community and identity; while attention to the ruling relations of sexuality, sex, gender, race, and class engages the politics of privilege and stigma.
Advisor: Sara L. Crawley, Ph.D.
Dissertations, Academic
x Sociology
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


Comparative Study of Intentional Communities by Jessica Merrick A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Sociology College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Sara L. Crawley, Ph.D. Donileen R. Loseke, Ph.D. Maralee Mayberry, Ph.D. Date of Approval: November 15 2010 Keywords: lesbian gay retirement whiteness suburban privilege Copyright 2010, Jessica Merrick


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I gratefully acknowledge the Florida Studies Center and Special Collections of the University of South Florida Libraries for funding a portion of this research. I am fortunate to have found financial assistance, sophisticated training, and a home in the Department of Sociology at the University of South Florida. In particular, i t has been a privilege and a delight to learn from an expert committee. Donileen R. Losek e, Maralee Mayberry, and Sara L. Crawley challenged and supported me while I often clumsily came into my own. I am especially indebted to Sara for her steadfast intellectual guidance and belief in me thank you for convincing me I am capable. I could not ha ve come this far without my D ad, who put my education before everything kno w that you gave me the world. makes our life beautiful e ven while Finally, I am profoundly touc hed by the people who participated in this study. Thank you for sharing your lives with me. I hope you can forgive my critical analysis, which does not imply individual culpability but instead aims to interrogate relations of power embedded in our culture.


i TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter 1: Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 1 How are identities produced by and within communities? ................................ .............. 1 What do communities mean for identity in the post gay community era? ......................... 2 How do communities engage domina nt discourse to negotiate privilege and stigma? ...... 7 Goals and questions ................................ ................................ ................................ 12 Chapter 2: Methods ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 14 Role as researcher ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 16 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 20 Interviewing ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 21 Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 22 ................................ ................................ ....... 24 Accrediting gay identity ................................ ................................ ............................. 25 From dominant heteronormativity to low profile family ................................ ................. 32 Findings from Sanctuary Cove ................................ ................................ ................... 37 ................................ ................................ .............. 40 Contesting sisterhood ................................ ................................ ............................... 42 Contesting belonging ................................ ................................ ................................ 49 Contesting s afety ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 53 Findings from Bayside Park ................................ ................................ ....................... 57 Chapter 5: Heteronormative Heritage Estates ................................ ................................ ......... 62 Accrediting blending ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 67 Blending in community ................................ ................................ .............................. 83 Findings f rom Heritage Estates ................................ ................................ .................. 88 Chapter 6: From Bayside Park to Heritage Estates ................................ ................................ .. 92 Chapter 7: Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 105 References ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 112 Appendices ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 120 Appendix A: Guiding Questions for Interviews ................................ ........................... 121


ii ABSTRACT Moving to Florida to retire has become commonplace among American elders, though we have seldom addressed how lesbians and gay men navigate sexual identity in retirement. I undertake ethnography of three suburban retirement aged residential communities in Florida in which lesbians and gay men make community in order to understand how identities are produced by and within communities, the significance of suburban gay communities in the post gay community era, and how residents from each community engage dominant discourse Sanctuary Cove 1 community; and Heritage Estates is a heteronormative retiremen t community with a growing thirty lesbians and four gay men I compare community practices to support my argument that these are respective settings for accrediting, contesting, and privileging identities. By exploring how participants collectively construct and present sexual selves in disparate communities, I attempt to uncover the co constitutive interaction between community and identity; while attention to the ruling relations of sexuality, sex, gender race, and class engages the politics of privilege and stigma. 1 All names and locations have been changed.


1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION friendly spaces reduce the need for lesbian and gay culture and community (Loftus 2001; Gorman Murray and Waitt 2009). Functioning more as a sexual minority than a physical community, lesbians and gay men appe ar well 64 year ever (Adelman 2000:xvi cited in Barker 2004:35). Yet in the face of d iscrimination from elders in retirement communities and ageism within LGBT communities, lesbians and gay men have created approximately eight LGBT targeted elder housing communities in the U.S (Grant 2010:95 102). In this thesis, I examine two of these com munities as well as one heteronormative question i s: What do these communities mean to the people who live there? More specifically, I focus on and how identities are produced by and within communities, the significance of suburban communities in the post gay community era, and how communities reject or employ dominant discourse to avoid stigma. How are identities produced by and within communiti es? Scholars have theorized lesbian and gay migration as an expression of ardent or waning commitment to identity. Either commitment to lesbian and gay identities in suburban settings indicates a highly salient sexual identity (Forsyth 2001), or lesbians a nd gay men move to the suburbs as sexual identities lose salience (Loftus 2001). Identity persists or abates but remains basically unchanged by its engagement with setting. I contend that we should consider the ways in which settings likewise compel identi ties. A Goffmanian (1959) approach would begin with the


2 social presence in the quoted in Brewster and Bell 2010) so that the self is a product of a scene rather than a cause of it (Goffman 1959:252). Correspondingly, (1991:73). Since social representations construct how we engage with space, wh ile spaces it explores how gay men play up different facets of th emselves to match their suburban surroundings, illustrating how contexts prompt selves. Using the metaphoric examples of peacocks, chameleons, and centaurs to typify identity duration, density, and dominance, he finds that unlike gay enclaves and neighborh oods, the suburbs do not elicit conspicuous displays of who one is depends on where and when one is, Brekhus original 200 3:17). meanings. While I attempt to uncover the interaction between space and identity by engaging this st udy is fundame ntally different because within the suburbs. Instead of driving to a city take up a part 88 cited in Brekhus 2003), participants form lesbian and gay communities in suburban Florida an environment many consider to be hostile. I therefore take c ontributing empirical insight to how identities are produced interactionally and contextually. What do communities mean for identity in the post gay community era? As the notion of lesbian and gay community loses prominence in the literature, I take up a discordant line of inquiry by examining how people make meaning in communities. By asking what it means to live in an identity based or heteronormative community, I implicitly assume that lesbian and gay community is real and meaningful to residents. But the validity of my premise has


3 been duly challenged: scholars dispute the notion of an identifiable gay community, suggest that produced primarily in discourse. In this section, I briefly outline how sociologists have studied gay communities before introducing their critiques. I note epistemic shifts from structuralist studies of spaces to interactionist studies of relationships; from attention to u rban enclaves to a call for inclusion of rural and suburban communities towards the dissolution of gay community. When sociologists initially theorized people living in communities, they focused exclusively on cities. For Simmel (1903), cities provided a n arena for the struggle to define an the 1920s, emerging Chicago school sociologists theorized the city as a microcosm of social life. While Wirth (1938) considered urbanism harmful to culture, he also found that cities offered freedom and toleratance for Jewish immigrants in the U.S. which prompted him to suggest that at cities provide a creative site for resisting cultural hegemony. Here minorities can take up alternative practices argues that cities emancipate people from their status by providing space to experiment with new identities and generate cosmopolitanism among people. It is not surprising, then, that sociologists first looked to cities to find lesbians and gay communities. In the 1950s, lesbian and gay stores, services and publ ic events began to emerge. The first gay male residential neighborhoods became visible in many major cities by the 1970s (Forsyth 2001:343). Some of the first sociological research on lesbian and gay space focused on enclaves in cities like San Francisco ( Loyd and Rowntree 1978; Wolf 1979), Los Angeles (Levine 1979), and London (Ettorre 1978). Sometimes called gay ghettos, these spaces were characterized by gay populations, institutions, and subcultures (Levine 1979). Although lesbian and gay populations ar e generally dispersed, studies from this decade focused on geographic areas and emphasized territorial boundaries. One early model used to analyze lesbian and gay communities was the quasi ethnic community model, which borrowed from the residential and


4 com mercial structures of immigrant enclaves (Kahan and Mulryan 1995). Stage models were later employed to predict gentrification and urban redevelopment. Early studies have been critiqued for understanding community as an entity rather than a process (Forsyth 2001:344), thereby overlooking culture and identities (Woolwine 2000). Newer models for lesbian and gay communities have challenged structural functionalist and spatially bound approaches to community to include meaning and self concept (e.g. Abrahamson 2 006; Murray 1992). Along these lines, scholars have advanced understandings of how lesbian and gay neighborhoods foster support and solidarity (Weston 1991) and validate identities (Rabin and Slater 2005). In their ethnography of a butch fem community in N ew York, Kennedy and Davis produced less in space than through relati onships. Next, there is a gap in the literature on lesbian and gay suburbanization. Modern studies of lesbian and gay communities continue to focus almost exclusively on urban enclaves in cities like Cape Town (Visser 2003), New York (Chauncey 1994), San Francisco (Rosenfeld 2003; Murray 1992), West Hollywood (Levay and Nonas 1995), and New Orleans (Knopp 1990). Too few studies document lesbian and gay populations in rural areas (for exceptions see Gray 2009; Valentine 2000, 1997; Krieger 1983). Even less attention has been paid to lesbians and gay men in suburban settings (for a strong exception see Brekhus 2003). Attempting to de center the city as the reference point for contemporary queer life, Herring (2010) argues that non urban queers are dismissed, fetishized, marginalized, antagonized; and constructed as ignorant, shameful, and argues for including non urban queers. There is a notable gendered gap since suburbanization reflects different processes for lesbians than gay men. Forsyth (2001:437) argues that gay men are starting to move to suburban areas in greater numbers, and lesbians have always been less urban but are just now becoming more visible. Historically, gay spaces have been marked by male ghettoisation and


5 territorialisation, while lesbian separatists form countercultural enclaves. Gender informs the way gay men and lesbians choose or are restricted to certai n places and helps explain how the space is used after appropriation (Ingram, Bouthillette, and Retter 1997:215). Since women may be more constrained by finances, family responsibilities, public safety, and political effectiveness, it is easier for men wit h class and race privilege traditionally middle class, white men to identify and live as openly gay (Knopp 1990:338). For these reasons, white, middle class ga y men have the most visibility and representation while lesbians have been less represented in u rban communities. Studies of suburban communities are gaining relevance as populations of lesbians and especially gay men shift from urban to suburban areas. Market trends suggest that when lesbians and gay men cannot afford to live in urban gay enclaves, they are pushed out to the suburbs (Markowitz 1993). Other studies show that heterosexuals are integrating into historically gay urban neighborhoods, while lesbians and gay men are moving into the suburbs (Rosser et al. 2008). Whether lesbians and gay men are pushed from cities or chose to move is an interesting point of contention. On one hand, suburban and rural lesbian and gay communities demonstrate commitment to lesbian and gay identities in various situations (Forsyth 2001:347). But at the same time, suburban migration may signal the dissolving salience of lesbian and gay identities, 2001). This prompts consideration of the final shift in the literature: towar ds the dissolution of gay community. There is debate about whether or not we can describe a distinctly lesbian and gay population. Most studies involving lesbians and gay men are conducted through lesbian and gay bars, gay identified events like pride pa rades, and gay magazines; but research from these locations is not representative (Forsyth 2001). Bellah et al. (1985) argue that lesbian and gay spaces lack the institutional characteristics necessary for community since being gay or lesbian does not nece ssarily facilitate similarities in values and beliefs or produce civic commitment or consistent discourse about the public good. Murray (1992) challenges their claim by arguing that


6 there are many ways one can be a part of the gay community: by having a ga y identity, having friendships with gay people, being involved in gay politics, or living in a gay neighborhood. But the assumption that enclaves and neighborhoods foster shared meanings has been critiqued. Despite research suggesting that lesbian and gay comm unities influence self concept the decline of urban gay neighborhoods and enclaves raises questions about their role in lesbian and gay community international study of 17 urban lesbian and gay communities found that despite stable or growing lesbian and gay populations, attendance at gay events, volunteerism in gay organizations, and the number of gay bars are decreasing (Rosser et al. 2008). Loftus (2001) suggests that lesbian and gay identities are becoming less meaningful as years ago if you were gay and lived in rural Kansas, you went to San Francisco or New York. are gathering empirical support as less tolerant generations of Americans are being replaced by younger and more tolerant Americans, and all age groups in the U.S. are becoming more tolerant (Keleher and Smith 2008). Scholars indicate a shift from lesbian and gay ghettos or enclaves into socially cohesive spaces. Gorman Murray and Waitt friendly attribute decreasing gay identification, visibility, and infrastructure to gay neighborhood gentrification, the achievement of civil r ights, less discrimination, a vibrant virtual community and changes in drug use example Woolwine finds that the lesbian and gay community is conceived of as having a deeply united presence despite inequalities: others it is more general and more vague; perhaps only a place filler, a word used with


7 and one with which they strongly identified (2001:8) difficult to theorize (Botnick 2000). A postmodern interpretation of the lesbian and gay community has a gut level attraction in that it is viewed as a microcosm of the social movement itself. In this such, lesbian and gay commu nity is a mutually informative idea and practice. I concede the merit of critiques of community as real and meaningful, but hold that this meaningful intentional le sbian and gay communities is timely and appropriate. In fact by including a heteronormative community, my analysis addresses the core claim that gay community and Instead, I focus on the personal meanings members make of the communities they reside in. This study is local rather broad; so while it is not comprehensive or representative, it does offer rich ty and gay or lesbian identity in three identity is practiced in communities, as well as the role of expectations for residents moving to each community. H ow do communities engage dominant discourse to negotiate privilege and stigma? While lesbian and gay communities may disengage with heteronormative expectations to achieve their goals, some of their members are privileged within the institutions of hegemo nic racism, classism, and gender normativity. In this section, I consider some of the possi ble problems and benefits of engaging dominant discourse s in identity based and hetero normative communities. Bouvard characterizes the intentional community movement (1975:6). Living together to pursue a particular lifestyle or a common vision, communalists form


8 ecovillages, farming collectives, residential land trusts, communes, student co ops, urban housing cooperatives, land co ops, mo nasteries and ashrams, or other alternative communities (Kozeny 1995). For Kanter (1968), the only common feature of communal groups is commitment. Although many intentional communities suggest their purpose is family, only a small minority of communalists rank family as the most important communal goal or purpose (Smith 1999). Instead, the top priority for most communalists is living with people who share similar values and beliefs. By contrast, lesbian separatist communities are ideologically, materially and politically motivated; so that separatists seek out means of supporting themselves in ways that are compatible with their politics (Shugar 1995). For example, Landdykes put ecofeminist and lesbian feminist politics into practice by living in separati st settlements which celebrate emotional and spiritual connections to land, personal liberation and transformation, and bodily freedoms Identified es lived and worked together in a white, lesbian feminist commune. Interacting with non world in order to ana lyze their experiences as women, question their own principles and assumptions, and subsequently develop a base from which they could mobilize other women for Historically more vital for lesbians than the Stonewall riots (F aderman 1991), lesbian separatism relieves the pressure to conform to dominant groups and the burden of expending is maintained by suppressing female sexuality and controlling women. Challenging the taken for granted assumption that most women are heterosexual, Rich reveals how female heterosexuality is in fact imposed, managed, organized, propagandized, and maintained by force within


9 patriarchal societies (1980:648) 2 between women and resists patriarchal male sexual rights to women. Following Rich, Marilyn Frye (1983:657) defines lesbian separatism as ceasing to be loyal to androcentric institutions. In response to parasitic masculinist demands, lesbian separatists remove their resources from male defined and male dominated institutions, relationships, roles, and activities. I (2000:152) account of Cincinnati in the 1970s, lesbians preferred to organize in lesbian focused feminist groups, and only socialized with gay men because there were so few lesbian events or it was useful for achieving political change. Given lesbian feminist interest in separating from men and masculinity how did gay ? One important reason is that the crucial and overwhelming support lesbians gave gay men during the AIDS epid emic in San Francisco in the 198 0s created a lasting bond between the two communities (Faderman 1991; J agose 1996; Buchanan 2006). Given political and personal preferences for women only spaces, the existence of a retirement community for lesbians and gay men is somewhat unusual. Although a separatist space which includes men does not follow from lesbian se paratist politics, it may offer similar advantages: In the case of lesbians and gay men who withdraw from heterosexual society, separatism means they will no longer be surrounded by expectations that they shore up heterosexuality by playing their tradition al role of self effacing witness to heterosexuality and listener to and care taker of heterosexuals. Lesbian and gay men no longer feel the need to expend their resources reassuring, stroking, and protecting heterosexual egos (Barnard 1998:619). Lesbian and gay communities follow a similar logic as lesbian separatist communities by denying access, removing resources, and disengaging from dominant expectations. Separatism engages a critical act of resistance which directs attention away from domin ant groups (Shogan 2003). Yet whether or not lesbian separatist communities improve social conditions is contest able 2 position which r 3).


10 s 1992:160). Feminists have both criticized identity as the basis of oppression and social hierarchies and used identity as a basis for mobilizing subordinated groups. Because separatism emphasizes difference, it paradoxically depends on marginalized and b inarized identities, serving to reinscribe the differences that help to generate oppression in the first place (Fernandez 2003). But for Barnard (1998), this paradoxical engagement with identity can be productive. The dominant group generates the oppressed by naming, pathologizing, and prohibiting (Foucault 1978 cited in Barnard 1998), while the marginality of the oppressed likewise construct the dominants (Mohanty dou ble Despite their liberatory potential, studies of identity based communities reveal conflict ) study, belonging d about other lesbians who made up this loose social group called a community. Feelings about being accepted, and fears of being rejected because a woman might be different from others, were key to everything. The women in the study articulated a general s ense that one had to conform in order to belong, as might be so in any social group, but for this group, a feeling of belonging mattered far more (Krieger 2005:4). More rece ntly, Heath and Mulligan (2008) find that sexuality is a source of social capital, but resources (e.g. support and acceptance) in the lesbian community are contingent upon compliance with community norms: The very existence of the close ties which enabled the lesbian community to provide benefits to women who participated in it also generated a sense of binding community norms which lesbians were expected to adopt (Heath and Mulligan 2008:294). Participants in their study report frustration about pressure to change their appearance or sexual conduct, or adopt feminism. Heath and Mull igan therefore understand lesbian community as a potential risk for well being, especially for bisexual women who are profoundly less accepted by the lesbian community. In light of these studies, I consider how conformity operates in the


11 communities I exam ine, and if it varies between the identity based and hetero normative communities. Given the possibilities and constraints of disengaging from dominant expectations, it is important to consider the ways in which identity based communities produce, maintain, or resist social conditions. Jo (2005) attributes changes in the lesbian community to class privilege, femininity, and trans women. Reflecting back on her experience in the San Francisco lesbian community in the 1970s, she holds that the community became segregated by class when abandoned feminist politics to return to the privilege they grew up with (2005:137). Jo distinguishes between middle class women who have the abili ty to assimilat e and oppressed women who need the lesbian community. Because she believes that femininity is defined by (2005:141). She also takes issue with male to female transsexuals, who she depicts as male identified heterosexuals eager to dominate lesbian communities. Her account points to community divisions surrounding the rejection or use of dominant forms of privilege, and calls analytic attention to the pre sentation of class and gender within and between identity based communities. Because all of the respondents in my study are white, this study examines racial privilege even as respondents lack the tools for speaking coherently about how they are protected and advantaged by whiteness (M cIntosh 1988). Suburban migration might be 1999:188 cited in Herring 2010:11), since gated suburban communities may appeal to the wh ite, middle class fear of ethnic diversity (Low 2003). We should therefore attend to how race, class, and gender privileges are employed within and between communities. By contrast, the literature on lesbian and gay elders living in heteronormative retire ment communities does not focus on privilege, and lesbian and gay elders are portrayed as uniquely stigmatized by dominant discourse LGBT elders face invisibility, economic hardship, and discrimination or abuse (Grant 2010:6). A n unseen minority within both the LGBT comm unity and the aging community, t here is little research on LGBT elders, and their needs remain


12 unaddressed. Social Security and Medicaid define partnership in ways that exclude LGBT families, creating economic hardship. This exacerbates income disparities for LGBT wage earners unprotected from workplace discrimination. Further, LGBT elders report fear, discrimination, and barriers to care. Retirement housing programs are not mandated to provide culturally competent services to LGBT people so elders experience neglect and abuse by targeted housing is an important but scarc e option (DeVries 2004:8). Goals and questions communities mean to the people who live there. My goals are threefold. First, I attempt to uncover the co constitutive interactio n between spaces and identities (Goffman 1959; Lefebvre expectations and collective practices of community to describe how settings prod uce certain kinds of ident ities. I describe how selves are presented in varying spaces and to varying audiences in order to convey how identity is produced interactionally and contextually. The Next, I attempt to contribute to gaps in our understanding of suburbanization among gay men and especially lesbians. The existence of suburban lesbian and gay retirement communities defie s the logic that gay communities are both urban and disappearing (Gorman Murray and Waitt 2009; Keleher and Smith 2008; Rosser et al. 2008). Rather than focusing on lesbian and gay neighborhoods within cities (e.g. Visser 2003; Rosenfeld 2003; Levay and No nas 1995; Chauncey 1994), rural areas (Valentine 2000, 1997; Gray 2009; Krieger 1983), or dispersed and unmarked populations throughout suburbs, I examine a gap in the literature: lesbian and gay communities situated within suburbs. The suburbs have been t heorized as a place where gay identity dissipates (Loftus 2001) or is replaced by suburban identity (Brekhus 2003); some even


13 study travel outside of the suburbs to take up part time gay identities in cities (Brekhus 2003). Especially because scholars sugg est that gay community and identity are diminishing, the existence of suburban lesbian and gay communities prompts consideration of what community means for identity. Here I seek to answer the question: What does it mean to live in a suburban community bas ed on identity in the post gay community era? Finally, because my respondents are white and middle to upper class, this study is implicitly about whiteness and class privilege, just as it is about managing stigma in a homophobic society. In order to unders tand how lesbian and gay elders negotiate both privilege and stigma, I ask how communities reject or employ dominant discourse Aiming to contribute empirical weight to consideration of how race, class, and gender constitute privilege within stigmatized po pulations pursuing identity based communities, I break this task into two questions: How do communities utilize dominant discourse to negotiate privilege and stigma? How do identity based communities produce, maintain, or resist social conditions through t heir practices normative retirement community?


14 CHAPTER 2: METHODS In this chapter, I disclose my epistemic commitment to interpretivism and feminism and explain how this shaped my methodological choices and situated my research I discuss how my sexuality, age, class, and gender presentation positioned me in the field, a nd reflect on the feminist dilemma of friendship. I finally describe my process of open ended active interviewing before concluding with a discussion of how I analyzed the data and approached the writing process. Methodologies are theories of how research should be done based the ories of knowledge (Harding 1986:2). I address methodology before describing methods because my approach to our epistemological sta nce shapes how we understand our role as researchers, employ methods, and identify, analyze, and report data (2003:3 4). Indeed, my standpoint is bound up in every step of the project, making disclosure about myself, interactions, and power relations imper ative. In this section, I discuss how an interpretive, feminist stance to knowledge called for open ended active interviewing and the analysis of narrative data. Departing from a positivist, objectivist view of science, I take an interpretive, feminist st community interactions, or even myself. Haraway (1991) critiques approaches to science for achieving epistemological and social power by assuming objectivity. In p retending to merely knowledge, I attempt to engage in feminist research an d writing. Kleinman (2007:5) charges research is by paying attention to inequalities throughout the research process. I therefore


15 attempt to address issues of powe r: power exerted during the research process, power differences between the researcher and the researched, and power exerted during writing and representing (Wolf 1996:2). I also reflect on my emotions as they pertain to sense making in the fieldwork exper ience (Naples 2003:199; Ibarra and Kusenbach 2001). I confine my reflexivity reflexivity gives voice to the already Following an interpretive, feminist stance to k nowledge and research, I take up inductive methods. Because I understand facts to be fluid and embedded within social understandings, it makes sense to ask and observe before moving towards concepts and theories. As I became interested in intentional retir ement communities, my basic question was: what do communities mean to the people who live there? Open ended interviewing provides a method for answering that question because it allows participants the greatest opportunity to discuss how they give meaning to their lives (Reinharz 1992:18). Open production of data and an opportunity to explore the meaning of the research topic for the atives should also be taken into account. Holstein and Gubrium stress that narratives are constructed as a product of interaction between the researcher and participants (2003:67). As such, interviews are While interest in the content of answers persists, it is primarily in how and what the subject/respondent, in collaboration with an equally active interviewer, produces and at hand (Holstein and Gubrium 2003:71). Given this attention to how narratives are constructed interactionally between social actors embedded in power relations it is perhaps not surprising that open ended interviewing has ch feminists have sought to achieve the active involvement of analyzing narratives as data serves my project in important ways.


16 A growing body of scholarsh ip calls for the examination of how in dividuals construct a groupness in community and scholars of social movements explore the strategies and knowledges employed to build and maintain community identities (Stein 2001; Zuo and Benford 1995). Al though community narratives can be constructed by individuals, shared histories create solidarity (Weston 1991) and are more powerful with the interpretation and affirmation of the collective (Mason Schrock 1996) It is likewise important to consider how i ndividual identities are through the collective creation of stories (Gergen and Gergen 1983:266 cited in Mason Schrock 1996). While much research is devoted to expl oring the construction of collective identity as well as the construction of personal identity through collective identity, we could benefit from more work focused on the interactive, co creative process in which these projects engage (Loseke 2007). Not on ly does narrative suit the methodological task of conveying multi level constructions of identity for gay and lesbian elders, but gay and lesbian elders are uniquely situated to exemplify the utility of examining identities through narrative Telling stori es becomes a way of interpreting the past in the context of the present, thereby establishing meaningful continuity with current identities (Beilby and Kully 1989). Elders may struggle to convey multiple identities beyond what they project, but telling a s tory allows multiple identities to be presented, including the me then me (Norrick 2009). Moreover, discovering identities through narrative combats the problem of categorizing and essentializing multiple, fluid selves. Because they historicize time, space, and relationships (Somers 1994; Calhoun 1994), narrative approaches to identity engage the queer theoretical project of unfixing and destabilizing identity categories which may be useful for people with stigmatized identities. Therefore narrative analysis serves as a strategically instrumental method from which to analyze the construction of gay and lesbian identities. Narrative analyses illuminate the multiple, reflexive character of lived Role as researcher


17 Although I cannot fully situate my analysis, I attempt to break down exploitative hierarchies betwee n myself and participants in the field and in my writing through a discussion of process. For me, this means being diligently reflexive and transparent about my assumptions and at brash, awkward, hit and (Kumar 1991:1 quoted in Wolf 1996:6). As a researcher, I hold power because I make decisions about how to conduct the project and represent participants in my analysis. In a society which privileg es youth and ignores elders, I hold social and cultural power because I am 25. Yet age was not constructed this simplistically in my interactions with participants. I consider myself a young person who has a lot to learn from elder participants. Perhaps be cause I am an insider (as a lesbian) and an outsider (as a young person), participants were forthcoming about points of difference because of age. From my perspective, this enhanced our conversations more often than it detracted from them. Some expressed f rustration about youth today having no sense of history or obligation to making change. I think I was positively evaluated as a young person interested in LGBT research. Yet it is possible that they might have felt more comfortable talking with someone clo ser in age. I shared with my participants white privilege, educational privilege, and Western, participants were professional athletes, doctors, lawyers, an d entrepreneurs. They lived in big houses and drove expensive cars. By contrast, my educational socialization enables me to present as upwardly mobile and betrays my background as first generation college student. In terms of class, participants hold more power than me. While studying up has been suggested as way to relieve power imbalances in research, the problem of friendship resists resolution. Wolf writes: By naming these power differentials and possibly exploitative interactions and bringing them into feminist discourse, feminists shattered the original tenets of early feminist work. What was previously seen as natural and easy has been problematized as one of the greatest dilemmas of feminist field research (2006:19). By reflecting on my experiences w friendship in the field, I challenge the objectification of knowledge (Haraway 1991) and the notion of experiential distance between myself and participants (Gorelick 1991).


18 Being a lesbian was requi site though not sufficient to gaining access in all sites. Upon However, I did no t want to insult people by acting as though this implied a salient commonality or would be enough to earn their trust. This produced an awkward moment in Sanctuary Cove, where I entered with no connections and gained access by driving there and talking to residents. self disclosure seemed too forward in the doorway of their house, resigned to telling them that I t do you mean, like human that human rights were alright with me but really I was just being selfish. My bad joke broke the tension and assured them that I was not an outsider. We talked for about an hour after that; and a few weeks later when I attended a party at their neighbor s house they helped me gain access: Sandra would sometimes interrupt the conversation to play PR rep. I realized that they had been contacted by a few people doing research recently. A few people asked me if I A couple of men wondered if they could be a part of it too, because they heard it was only about women. It made me feel bad for being yet another researcher. But at the same for a different researcher, Sandra came over to correct her in a loud stage whisper to let February 28, 2009). Attending this party opened doors for me to meet people and schedule interviews, but I would not have been nearly as successful doing so had I not met Sandra and Katherine first. To them, I was not just another researcher I later came to understand that bringing my partner was an ideal form of self disclosure in Sanctuary Cove because of their positive evaluation of m onogamy and gender normative normative presentations likely influenced the kinds of people who were willing to interview with me and the kinds of things we talked about. Some participants conveyed approval of m y gender presentation. While I had an easier time gaining access in these communities than a straight researcher would have, it was also important that I did not appear to deviate from gender norms.


19 I connect ed with participants in a way that often felt like friendship. In Heritage Estates, me stay in their guest bedroom during the project have argued that being a woman is crucial to under standing women due to our position within the sexual division of labor and sexist oppression. For Smith, the only way to understand the world is to know it from within (1987:107 cited in Wolf 1996). Yet insiderness has been critiqued for essentializing and assuming epistemic privileges. I had these critiques in mind as I gained access to communities which meant that I thought of self because I was privileged regardless. I found that interviews with women felt different than interviews with men. The four men I interviewed at Sanctuary Cove took part because they valued the project. On the other hand, the majority of women I interview ed seemed to participate because they liked me. Overall, I felt more connected to the women and sensed that access and disclosure was linked with friendship. For interview. My conversation with Joyce and Kathleen was going well until I hit a bump in the road: w march in the street ublican? against Obama. Jo s the worst After this, Joyce and Kathleen became somewhat reserved and less congenial. Later Joyce asked:


20 So your goal is to repo still report the facts? I told her that I was committed to grounded theory, and that I was primarily i nterested in what it was like living in Heritage Estates. But I was disheartened because her question confirmed my fear that I had lost our connection. This situation made clear how much I relied on friendship as a means of relating to participants. Femini problematic because the relationships are not egalitarian (Reinharz 1992). Despite my desire not to capitalize on insiderness, my success gaining access was contingent upon women liking me, and this one to obtain interviews with men in Heritage Estates likely reflects both the absence of gay men and Participants All participants in this study are white, and could be considered middle to upper class though I did not ask about t heir income. Most attended university, and many hold advanced degree s like a MA JD, or PhD. A few had past careers which did not require a degree for example one participant was a nun and another was an athlete. While residents of Sanctuary Cove talked more about education than residents in other communities, advanced degrees are we ll represented among participants from all communities. Participants report that many residents of Bayside Park served in the military though none of my participants enlisted themselves. In Sanctuary Cove, participants above the average age are Ernest (74 ) and Max (79), Beatrice (72) and Josephine (74), Allison (71), and Abigail (71) Rebecca (68), and Marge and Pat (both 67). Below the average are Juliana and Katherine (both 59), Max (53) and Rock (62), and Evelyn (60). In Bayside Park, Betty (75) and Sue (73) are the eldest participants. By Linda (60), and Toni (43) and Louie (57). In Heritage Estates, Kate (80) is the eldest participant, while her partner, Bobb y, is 68. Doris and Shirley (both 77), Cara (70), and Laura (74) and Judy


21 (69) are above the community average age of 68. Under this average are couples Glenda (59) and Lee (63), Chris (65) and Valerie (58), and Betty (65) and Kathleen (60). Interviewing F rom February to December 2009, I conducted interviews in three communi ties. I spoke with a total of 34 people in 20 recorded interviews. The 35 hours of recorded interviews amounted to 641 single spaced pages of narrative data. From the 20 trips I made to these communities, I wrote 25 pages of notes and observations. I also reviewed community websites and other documents I had been given, such as brochures. Of the 30 women and 4 men who participated, five interviewed individually, and the remaining 28 inter viewed with their partner, or in one case, a roommate. Interviews lasted from almost an hour to more than four hours. The average length for interviews was about an hour and a half, which was near the community average at Sanctuary Cove and Heritage Estat es. Interviews at Bayside Park lasted about half an hour longer on average. Participants ranged in age from 43 to 80, with an average age of 66. Participants at Sanctuary Cove and Heritages Estates were on average just 1 2 years older than the overall aver age. Perhaps participants from Bayside Park were 5 years younger on average because, unlike Heritage Estates and Sanctuary Cove, Bayside Park is not designated themselves as different according to age (a subject I will address in upcoming chapters). Oakley (1981) holds that feminist research requires openness and engagement, which can be facilitated through intimacy, self disclosure, and believing respondents Wh ile I referred to the guiding qu estions in Appendix A, I emphasized that they were not necessarily comprehensive or useful, and encouraged participants to lead the conversation by telling the stories they consider ed relevant. In Yeandle approach serves interpretivism: T he opportunity was given for women to discuss the progress and decision of their employment careers in all their complexity, and this helped to eliminate the danger that the framework of my questions might impose external m eanings and interpretations on


22 Occasionally participants ask ed me if it was alright to opportunities like this to reiterate I am interested in what is important to them, so nothing that they consider relevant is off topic. Interviewing participants in their homes was useful. Interviews here felt relaxed and Sanctuary Cove, where pets play an important role in constructing families and facilitating community among residents, it was I was sometimes conferred approval through I n thes e moments, pets, framed as interactional resources in fa I homes also enabled me to observe how communities interact In Sanctuary Cove, neighbors homes to say hello, and relayed messages to me through each other. In between participants facilitated my ability to conduct interviews. For example, Rebecca de clined to interview with me when I met her at the party, but later contacted me because her neighbors informal interactions. I brought participants cookies to thank them for interviewing with me which often occasioned talking over coffee before the interview There were also a few times that I was invited to stay for lunch or dinner after an interview. These extensions of our time together s in my writing, having this information enhances my understanding of their communities. Analysis G rounded theory offers systematic yet flexible guidelines for analyzing qualitative data 2006:3), so 2007:21). I first looked at individual interview transcripts looking for generalities, recurring


23 patterns, missing concepts, and meanings asso ciated with generalities. 3 I compared individual literature revi ew but instead addressed what came up in each community. I compiled lists of quotes and reference points within themes and looked for patterns in who was discussing what, how, and when, repeating the process until I gained confidence and clarity. While int erpretive Assuming an appropriately critical stance has bee n an onerous p rocess. Because I like and care about many participants, it has been somewhat difficult to report findings which they might be unhappy to read. To assume distance would be disingenuous, because as I write I am sharing an intimate story. Kleinman (2007:23) discusses her difficulty taking a critical stance about people she admired: meaning statements? I reconcile my difficulty assuming a critical stance by paying attention to what Kleinman (2007) how can justify dominance and construct oppression as honorable and heroic (Kleinman 2007:16). I therefore looked for systematic and patterned absences in the data by asking questions of myse lf, the analyst, like: What are the powerful leaving out? Who uses the language of personal choice and when? Whose account is legitimated by others and whose is not? Do groups in the setting share a language or is the language of the powerful different from the language o f the less powe rful (Kleinman 2007:19 31)? I was better able to analyze data not th but through a desire not to reinscribe systems of oppression. 3 Unpublished course notes, University of South Florida.


24 OVE Sanctuary Cove markets itself as though one straight couple lived in the community a few years ago, and another lives there currently. Although the community is not gated, lush tropical plants enclose the neighborhood and seem to prot lesbian community except for one small rainbow flag protruding from the porch of a display property in the back. The community is located in what sociologists might describe as a suburban requirements, but residents range in age from thei r fifties to their eight ie s. Since people began moving into the neighborhood in 1998, 21 homes and 18 villas have been built, available from $180,000 to $230,000. Some homes have gone under foreclosure in the global financial crisis. Participants say that older men live in the homes while the duplexes and triple xes are populated with younger and more active women. All residents are white and highly educated. I arrived to Sanctuary Cove on a weekday afternoon and walked around the block. I waved at two men in a car pulling into their driveway and they waved back, so I decided to try to talk to them. I introduced myself as a student interested in what it wa s lik e living t here, and t hey encouraged me to talk to their neighbors, Sandra and Katherine. Even though I felt strange knocking on their door without an invitation, Katherin e later assured me that it was lay the groundwork for what you wanted t me to Josephine, whose party I attended a few weeks later. I collected contact information of people interested in participating at the party, and later interviewed participants in their homes in Febr averaged about an hour and a half. Nine households participated, including ten women and four


25 men. I estimate that these 14 participants represent about a quarter of the residents in the neighborhood. Ten participants interviewed with their partner, two were single, and the remaining two lived with their partner but interviewed i ndividually. Participants range in age from 53 to 74, with an average age of 67. In this chapter, I argue that Sanctuary Cove is a setting for accrediting 4 gay identities. To ocusing on the important roles of care taking, involvement, and gay identity. I consider how pets construct nuclear family and community Family, and communicate relationships before addressing how participants engage with discourse which positions gay iden tity against family. Community practices of Family and low profile accredit identities as lesbians and gay men and offer the residents protect Sanctuary Cove throu gh a strategic high profile, utilizing the community as collective presentation to protect the personal self. In the second section normative gender presentations, and prom iscuity, before arguing that they collectively counter this identity by asserting a low profile. To conclude, I situate my findings back into questions about how identities are produced within communities, the significance of gay communities, and how commu nities engage dominant discourse to negotiate privilege and stigma. Accrediting gay identity or ignored in h eterosexual neighborhoods. By contrast, t cited in Cerulo 1997:394). Abigail says: 4 the term in the same way (2003:6).


26 very fact that someone had the wherewithal to establish are going to establish a retirement comm Most residents, especially the older among them, were before moving to Sanctuary Cove. Sandra and Katherine, both 59, contextualize their experience historically: Kather ine: We grew up in the 60s. We were working our first jobs in the 70s. And nobody was out. It was just not cool to be out. accepted to be out. Katherine: Right. And so we did what we had to do. Whether it w as in the neighborhood yself asked or had the conversation. Because we just and that was our generation just try to fit in. Moving to Sanctuary Cove was not an extension of a n accredited gay lifestyle, but instead the construction of a new possibility. Here Ernest understands. When you want to talk about your partner you can talk about the male about your friend Just the thought that you could hold hands if you wanted to. Or hug. Or like when she leaves on her trips, I can go out to the have that option. So we have that option here. is an identity setting which provides a toolkit for how to feel, act, and who to be be cause residents come to Sanctuary Cove with ideas and expectations which influence their experience of the place (Brekhus 2003:17). Free from the burden of managing stigm resourc


27 a house we bought a commu people are an When Carme got sick you realized how the community just surrounds you with love. gotten food, people bring over without me saying a word Another neighbor over here, she made Carme two hats that she can wear since she has no hair Our next door neighbors Robert and William over here bring flowers and send a card ook all of these girls on the all the time. rt of the way Along with caretaking, involvement in events is a Family practice. The social committee They can go anywhere They anywhe participation is central to Family, Katherine considers lack of involvement problematic: We want other p do was sit inside your house and not associate with anyone, why did you bother to move events. Their statements suggest an expectation of conformity to Family practices.


28 Although participants describe some pressure to conform to Family ideals, it is apparent that their shared expectation for Family alleviates conflict surrounding conformity. Supporting setting because residents imagine Sanctuary Cove as a place for Family even before they move there Wil liam recalls: It was just very obvious the kind of community that needs, we all kind of jump in and do that It was clear that ever ybody was there to help if something happened as we got older, there would be other fo lks around to help. Like many residents, he bought into the community with the intention of doing Family. Conflict about identity is minimized because the community engages in the self sustaining project of attracting people with shared sensibilities, as William explains: Kind of a self fulfilling prophecy I think, because when people come to look at the units, in more and more of the same kind of people. Conformity to Family appears to function more as a resource for avoiding conflict, rather than a source of conflict. Because involvement is a Family practice, mentioning events emphasizes unity. Evelyn ends a s tatement about differences between residents who live in homes and villas by saying tion about what Cove is a valued part of the community because they are involved. When I ask Marge how she feels about them living there Pets help construct the Sanctuary Cove Family by facilitating community interactions and shared meanings. Sandra and Katherine explain that they walk down to the villas during their dog walks so that they can visit with those residents. Josephine says that


29 dogs buy dog biscuits so they can go out and socialize with their neighbors on dog walks. Dog walks afford opportunities for daily socialization for those able to participate. Allison has health problems that prevent her from wa eir kids all the time. friendly place. these are o that pets are kin is a Family practice. Residents embrace an idealized model for family including commitm ent and/or marriage, kin, and enduring solidarity, which invokes a white, middle class, romanticized notion of family (Coontz 1992). Couples at Sanctuary Cove are clear to express that they are always monogamous and often married; their pets function as ki n solidifying and demonstrating family both nuclear families and the Sanctuary Cove Family. While this suggests race and class based privileges and demonstrates commitment to dominant discourse it is important to remember that the prevailing discourse sit sexual [that I was gay] when I was young. Fatherhood was unavailable for men in gay relati onships in the 1950s, so gay The idea that claiming a lesbian or gay identity rejects family and kinship relies on two and lesbians do not have children or establish lasting relationships, and the belief that they invariably alienate adoptive and blood kin once their sexual


30 identi relationship to dominant discourse is complex. While their vision o f family conveys privilege, it also rejects stigmatizing discourse profile refers to an unmarked lesbian or gay self presentation, and is accrediting because it suspends the salience of lesbian and gay identities making the burden of coming out in everyday life less frequent. When I ask Marge what kinds of words she uses to des ually in that profile self presentations. and lesbian people because living in Sanctuary Cove conveys identity for them. Although doing low profile is accrediting, it is sometimes useful to employ a strategic high profile. Pat and Marge take a high profile when talking with outsiders: Pat: Whenev er I see anybody looking around, I always let them know, if they look like a straight couple or anything else, and make it clear that this is a very involved community. This is not just someplace you live So if you want to be here, you need to be part of the community and this is a gay move in but, you know Yet the strategy of asserting a high profile must be carefully considered, since residents c onsider the local suburban area unwelcoming: Robert: Some people put the big flag know William: T he more attention we draw to the community, the more likely it is that something could go wrong. Somebody could come in and be malicious or whatever. So I think there was much more concern with some of the folks up front about that whole thing conservative values and prefer to do low profile Also, suburban Flori da is not liberal or welcoming.


31 Interestingly, presentation of community as self is not spatially bound for residents. For example, William recalls a community dinner outside of the resi dential neighborhood: few couples. Well! Because once you start inviting somebody here, you never know when anything was noticeable with us as a group because we are pretty split between lesbians and gay men. So if you looked at how we looked, we looked like straight couples! But then when we divvied up the checks, you know, the waitresses went around and said, n the two women next to us, and the two guys next to them, and so forth. Although residents individually present a low profile, when the checks come, they are evidently a community of lesbians and gay men. Using community meanings as a resou rce, Sandra an d Katherine frame their dogs as kin substitutes to convey their relationship to outsiders: both my dogs and t dogs too Katherine: Yeah, what do you say? They live together, because we live together. (laughs) Residents utilize shared community meanings of pets as kin to present sexual identity and family relationships to othe my Katherine jokes Sanctuary Cove is significant for enabling and producing accrediting gay identities, demonstrating the salience of community, and shedding light on how identities are made both salient and not salient in the context of community. Insofar as residents live in the suburbs and do low gay assimilation is theorized to dismantle gay community and identity (Kilhefner 2007), Sanctuary r, facilitates Family, and enables retirement, the community enables s exual identity; while in the context of lessened oppression,


32 the stigmatized identity loses salience. While residents do not embody evident sexual identity, they utilize community and community meanings as a proxy for outness. Yet it is not possible to re move their community and identity practices outside of race and class based privileges. For example, Marge serves on the board of a conservative religious center and makes gains through respectability: Marge: I was the only lesbian on their board, the only gay person. And as a matter of fact, I never let it not be known. From the beginning, this was it. So here I was in this religious never Pat: I really think that. Even though movements are important, sometimes movements can be turn offs. Depending on how they appro ach a situation. Marge is recognized as a lesbian in her role, extending respectability to include a lesbian family. This is a politically useful for lesbians and gay men but does not challenge how respectability is conferred to those with racial and cla ss privilege. I previously addressed how doing Family was at once a privileging endeavor and a rejection of dominant discourse which construct lesbians and gay men as outside of the family. Even as these examples run counter to dominant privilege, there is no escaping the reality that in order for residents to assume accrediting gay identities in Sanctuary Cove, they must be able to afford to buy a home there. Josephine laments that there iversity) but lacks the within stigmatized populations pursuing identi ty based privileges. From dominant he teronormativity to low profile f amily residents rely on heteronormative precepts and do not identify as separatists. They are involved in local, heteronormative churches, volunteer groups, and organizations li ke Big Brothers/Big


33 Sisters, Meals on Wheels, Guide Dogs, Silver Threads, and a university fraternity. Max is wanted to be associated with other than just s from separatists at Bayside Park (the only community I discuss in the next chapter) by emphasizing unity when they talk about gender: Max: The women tend to do things together much more than the men do I think. Jessica: Do you have parties with all men? dinner this week and we learned more about them in one night of a nice, intimate I like things where the whole community gets together, male and female and so on. only We have um, a little bit of a separation between the male community and the female friends with everybody. Viewing separatism as a failure to accomplish normalcy, residents stress that th ey are just like everybody else. In this respect, residents of Sanctuary Cove rely on heteronormative precepts. For example, when residents discuss straight couples living in Sanctuary Cove, Allison frames the story from a heteronormative perspective: The y were to move here. When there [are] houses for sale, the first thing the realtor needs to do is to comfort able with it, as long as Most agree that the straight couples are comfortable, though Evelyn says one neighbor was Centering on how straight people feel in Sanctuary Cov says:


34 they do we feel? Suggesting their frame was backwards, Marge asked residents to think about how they felt about straight couples moving in. Other residents misunderstood her efforts, though, and instead said Were At 74, Ernest demonstrates: Advise and Consent There was a senator being mail him and he went into a gay bar in New York City. And it was a very unattractive atmosphere. It was about as unattractive as you can make a gay bar look! And that was my whole experience of to go join the gay community! pride diversity individuality and sexuality but this is a historically recent modification to a narrative evolving from negativit y. Before gay shameful pathological condition leading to isol ation and misery were censored and hard to come By doing low sexuality: We have never been comfortable with a good portion of the gay community because they are so busy being gay And in all the gay organizations I belonged to, they were always a because they had to make some gay


35 here. Participants avoid appearing gay to avoid st discourse participants prefer gender know, I see social world that accepts the visibility of 3). People are well r the reputation a lot of gays get that we just hang out at the bar. In Ft. Lauderdale that William draws from this narrative to describe his experiences both in Ft. Lauderdale and Sanctuary Cove. Similarly, Kat Cove from implied promiscuity. Katherine constructs a collective Sanctuary Cove narrative in describing residents as practicing monogamy, she explains that they are not promiscuous. To describe dominant cultural narratives,


36 ignore but do not er ase in a cultura l quoted in Loseke 2007:665). Residents distance themselves from what they consider to be an overtly sexual, gender profile in Sanctuary Cove. Max su purpose of doing low profile: We stay fairly low profile. Althou I like to just like everybody else, paying our taxes and everything. Setting herself apart from the dominant understan uncomfortable wit profile openness at Sanctuary Cove. and neighbors are not gay incidentally. Instead, Sandra argues that the community functions this way because it is a gay community: Here because that seems like it allows you to become friends and neighbors and everything that can go along with that. undesirable. By doing low profile, residents construct ident ities in ways that are validating for resist social discourse and take up accrediting g ay identities. Even as they rely on heteronormative precepts,


37 respondents distance themselves from the dominant narrative (Max says they are not the need to come out). Findings from Sanctuary Cove a setting for accrediting gay and lesbian identities. Care taking, involvement, and gay identity construct community identity. Although Family is embedded in gay identity, residents paradoxically resist identifying normative gen der presentations, and promiscuity. Elders collectively counter negative associations by asserting a Sanctuary Cove conveys sexual identity for residents, so that they do not have to feel set apart as gay and lesbian people or individually manage stigma. Free to construct identity in ways that are validating for them, participants assuming accrediting identities in Sanctuary Cove through the joint constructi on of low profile and Family. How are identities produced by and within Sanctuary Cove? I argue that community accrediting identities are produced by and within Sanctuary Cove by describing both expectations for community before moving in as well as collective practices in the setting. Demonstrating that and practices are congruent: visitors come to Sanctuary Cove imagining Family and subsequently engage in doing Family as residents. There is little conflict since like minded people move in to pursue the same goal. Unlike identity based communities where conformity produces conflict, conformity is a resource for emphasizing unity and Family in Sanctuary Cove. Addressing how accrediting identity is produced interactionally and contextually, I discuss the interactions which produce Family (i.e. caretaking, being involved in events, sharing meanings about pets as kin)


38 and describe how identities are presented in different contexts (i.e. low profile and strategic high profile). Doi ng low profile is accrediting both as a presentation which alleviates the burden of coming out and as a counter esentation of community as self is not bound to Sanctuary Cove as a setting. Rather, community (and presentation of self through community) should be conceived of as operating through relationships. What does it mean for identity to live in Sanctuary Cove in the post gay community era? Sanctuary Cove demonstrates the salience of community by revealing how identities are made both salient and not salient in the context of community. Insofar as residents live in the suburbs and do low profile, some might cons But where gay assimilation is theorized as dismantling gay community and identity (Kilhefner 2007), Sanctuary Cove brings a community together, facilitates Family, and enables openness about sexua community enables sexual identity; while in the context of a gay majority, the ir gay identity is unmarked. In this safe context, sexuality loses salience as a source of stigma. Finally, while residents do not embody evident sexual identity, they utilize community and community meanings as a proxy for outness. How do residents in Sa nctuary Cove utilize dominant discourse to negotiate privilege and stigma? I answer this question in two parts by addressing the privileges granted to participants as individuals, and then considering their collective engagement with dominant discourse Fi rst, it is based privileges. In order for residents to assume accrediting gay identities in Sanctuary Cove, they must be able to afford to buy a home there. While some n ote a lack of ethnic diversity as a problem, they are nonetheless an entirely white community and receive privilege on account of their whiteness. Especially as white, middle to upper class people, residents are able to make


39 gains through privileged presen tations of respectability (i.e. doing Family and volunteerism). Second, their collective engagement with dominant discourse is pragmatic: residents engage dominant discourse in ways that secure privilege (i.e. doing Family) and reject stigma (i.e. doing l ow profile). Doing Family is at once a privileging endeavor which confers respectability to white, middle class people, and a rejection of heteronormative dominant discourse which construct lesbians and gay men as oppositional to family. Even more complex heteronormative precepts, residents collectively assert an accrediting gay identity by doing low ow do communities produce, maintain, or resist social based privileges but enables social change for residents who are accredited through reclaiming gay identity from stigmatizing dominant constructions and settings.


40 in 1997 by a lesbian couple. Located in a suburban Florida, t he community spans 50 acres with almost 300 lots for manufactured homes ( from $140,000 to $350,000) and recreational vehicles (henceforth RVs, priced $55,000 to $95,000).There are about 130 full in the winter until as many as 500 women populate the community. Ranging from 40 to 85, re sidents work full time, part time, or are retired. The community restricts male residents through private clubhouse memberships available for women. Although visitors of any sex may use the clubhouse with a temporary member pass from 11am to 1pm, women are informally sanctioned for bringing male visitors. Members of the clubhouse pay a quarterly fee to use amenities (e.g. swimming pool, pickle ball courts) and attend events (e.g. dances, comedy shows). The community has its own television channel which ann ounces events continuously. I arrived at Bayside Park around 10:00am on a Saturday morning. Unable to reach the clubhouse using the buzzer, I parked my car on the shoulder of the road and waited a few moments before someone exited the gate. A woman hopped out of her car to heave a trash bag into the dumpster. I walked over and introduced myself and the project. She said she had a quick errand to run and would be back in a few minutes to talk to me. Soon after she left, another car exited the gate. As the d river parked and walked towards me, she began telling me to leave. I introduced myself and explained that I was waiting to talk to someone who just left, but she said that woman did not have the right to invite me in and threatened to call the police. I ap ologized for that encounter feeling shook up. I did not expect to find a way to return, nor was I certain I should. Surprisingly, my access to Bayside Park was participant driven. Most of the women I met in Heritage Estates had moved there from Bayside Park. They took interest in the project and


41 were concerned that their narratives could not represent the women in Bayside Park. They assured me that my presen ce was unlikely to create community conflict and encouraged me to go back. Soon after a few of these conversations, I received an email from Toni who said that friends from Heritage Estates told her about my thesis and she would interview with me. A respec ted and visible gatekeeper, Toni arranged all of my interviews at Bayside Park. Interviews took place in average of about two hours. Four households participated with a total of seven women. I estimate that these seven women represent less than ten percent of the total population, irrespective of season. Of the seven participants, one was single, and the remaining three couples interviewed together. Participants range in age from 43 to 75, with an average age of 61. A windy, private road leads to two wrought iron gates separating Bayside Park from the outside world. A short haired woman cruises by in truck with a kayak strapped on top and dog wagging excitedly in Moments later the gate opens and I pull onto Susan B. Anthony Street, just past Rosa Parks reeze. A woman glances up from her garden patch to give a warm nod, rendering me an instant admirer of identity setting which provides a toolkit for how to feel, act, and who to be because women come to Bayside Park with ideas and expectations which influence their experience of the place (Brekhus 2003:17). They m ay notice things which confirm their ideas influence perception even before women move in; and residents contin ue to engage with these ideas in meaningful ways throughout their time in Bayside Park.


42 While their reasons for coming to Bayside Park are varied and personal, I find three as a place for sisterhood, belonging, and/or safety. These engagements are highly contested. While some see Bayside Park as a place for sisterhood, others assert that it is a place for friends who happen to be lesbians. While many think of the community a s a place for belonging, residents while many live in Bayside Park for safety, others argue that the imperative for safety creates fear, restriction, and extremi sm. I consider how these contested approaches to engaging with stigmatizing identities for others, ultimately rendering the community a setting for contesting identity. To conclude, I consider these findings in light of my research questions asking how identities are produced by and within Bayside Park, what Bayside Park means for identity in the post gay community era, and how residents engage dominant discourse to nego tiate privilege and stigma. Contesting sisterhood wanted to live somewhere warm, and was al so interested in sisterhood: be here. And the idea of community and siste rhood was extremely important to me. Jessica: Was that expressed? How did you come to those ideas? Linda: Well see I thought there was going to be drumming circles here! (laughs) I had kind of gone to the Nth way over here about what sisterhood meant. No t really knowing realistic. But anyway think I got together with Tracy as much for loving Bayside Park as for loving her. I loved this place. I thought it was really which I had never drummed but it was the idea Michig Feelings even though there are some really hateful, dysfunctional people here nevertheless, it is a wonderful place.


43 Here Linda rounds out her idea of sisterhood, mentioning drumming, hold ing hands and singing, relationship with an ex partner which blurs the line between loving Tracy and loving the Bayside Park. By contrast, moving to Bayside Park was an extension of feminist politics for 75 year old they were involved in its creation. Betty and Sue found out about Bayside Park through the Lesbian Connection when it was still being printed with a mimeograph machine. After living in Bayside Park for a d ecade, an d they say that the community is evolving in a way intimacies, like when somebody proves untrustworthy as a political endeavor, Betty and Sue heard about my difficulty gaining access and wanted to a real commitment to the Jessica: How come? made up my mind if being in a community means I have to serve. Jessica: Is that idea suggested? with. Like, should I be Participants do not share a clear idea of what commitment entails. Whereas conformity is constructed as a resource in Sanctuary Cove, it is a diffic ult imperative in Bayside Park. In Sanctuary Cove, participants imagined the same goal (i.e. Family)


44 and attracted like minded residents. But as I will demonstrate in Bayside Park, members imagine and pursue different and often conflicting goals (i.e. sist erhood, belonging, and/or safety), so that conformity produces tension. Respondents agree that conflict should not detract from their meaningful connections with each other, and must be overlooked for the greater good. Sue pauses and leans back in her chair: what is going to blow but there will always be something. The t hings we deal with in having enough warm fuzzies. exist despite con sistent conflict. Sue reports that women overlook conflict by staying friends with ex yside Park: wanted my friends who were friends to shun her and support me, which is totally Bayside Park is not an environment that would support one resident by shunning another, an be friends with ex but ultimately Linda concludes that conflict in the community must be accepte d: have to do to stay here. You cannot be a person who wants to come down here and run this place or have your feelings hurt or look to be in conflict with other people. Th is is not ly Sue, she acts like that has to be accepted. For those who engage with Bayside Park as a setting for sisterhood, it is important to accept problems and overlook conflict because communal needs exceed individual ones. Betty, Sue,


45 of it vary. By contrast, Lisa, Donna, Toni, and Louie do resist sisterhood. Lisa and Donna feel that sisterhood is irrelevant, and situate the discrepancy as an age cohort effect. More critically, Toni and Louie take issues with the premises and implications of sisterhood. Although lesbian separatism is theorized to be a radical feminist rejection of pat riarchy by separating from men, residents of Bayside Park do not coherently articulate their community as a feminist pursuit. Rather, they loosely connect their goal of sisterhood with feminism, and suggest that, because of their age (as either older or yo unger women), they are not doing feminism. For Lisa and Donna, divisions within the community can be explained by age, including varying constructions of sisterhood. At 66, Donna is twelve years older than her 54 year old partner, Lisa. They consider thems elves a part of the young crowd in Bayside Park, and do not see feminism as A lot of women in their forties are clueless abo ut the struggles of the generation before them, and were very interested in this the fourth wave feminists. There were the suffragettes, and then the women in the 60s, I guess the 70s, and there was just this lull where there was no push for feminist idea s until your generation. As younger women in the community, they are more interested in enjoying retirement than taking up feminist politics: women here that are very politically minded. But I think most people here are just into like Donna: Right. No. There are plenty of us who just want to be silly. The couple does not take issue with the notion of sisterhood; they just do not consider it relevant. Their opinions are not necessarily shared by younger women. At 43, Toni is the youngest woman in Bayside Park. She attributes difference s within the community to age, but has a different opinion on its effect: college, but there are probably not many people here older than I am who had the option of taking wo


46 Donna and Lisa hold that feminism is a concern for older women, whereas Toni suggests that she had greater exposure to feminist ideas because she is young. While age is felt to divide women, it does not necessarily relate to how wom en are divided. Instead, it is interesting to note that they feel a division by age. Some women meet the idea of sisterhood with resistance, articulating a desire for more privacy, acknowledgement of difference, and better business. Louie is 57 and has lived in Bayside Park for a decade. She is now in a relationship with Toni who has lived in Bayside Park for three years. They feel that sisterhood invades their privacy: doing what time I go to bed, what time I get up, those kinds of things. And you lose a little bit of that here, you know. part of that is that whole sort of sense of sisterhood kind of thing where we have a For Louie and Toni, the expectation that Bayside Park should embrace sisterhood impedes on privacy because Heritage Estates (the next community I introduce), Glenda and Lee, stayed at Bayside Park for a ey moved to Heritage Estates instead of Bayside Park was because they perceived a lack of privacy at Bayside Park. Glenda attributed this to the small size of the community and lack of space between homes, but also felt that lesbian communities are charact erized by a lack of privacy: I hate to say this about the lesbian community, but if you get too many lesbians too close (laughs) And it leads to all kinds of negati ve things. So I think having a little distance and a little separation is very, very helpful to us. Because we can be our own worst enemy. We really can. Also currently residents of Heritage Estates, Doris and Shirley lived in Bayside Park for seven year s before moving to Heritage Estates and identify the lack of privacy as one reason they left: Doris: Bayside Park was too small. That was too they knew too much of what was going on. about it and they would feel bad too.


47 if we wanted to go out into the community and maybe join a group we had a bridge group that we liked very much, and we would play bridge with these two straight women. See they did not really like that, and they did not understand it. They expected you to stay within the community. Doris and Shirley resist the expectation for sisterhood and the pressure they felt to socialize exclusively w ithin the community. Sisterhood presents the hope and dilemma of intimacy and unity. Taking issue with the sisterhood effort of unity, Louie articulates another form of resistance. She repositions the women in Bayside Park as neighbors: whole maybe ca me here and left In the face of pressure to be part of the sisterhood, Louie stresses that a united sisterhood ignores difference. She explains: first maybe 4 or 5 years it was a much more of, the whole place did things together. And as it got larger you sort of had people l really kinds of, just like anywhere else, people who sort of migrate toward each other. interest based groups. Shifting attention to mundane diversity, Loui e resists the unity required of sexuality, education, race or ethnicity. Lisa and Donna are moving away to find a place where Lisa: The lack of diversity really bothered me, and still does bother me. That everybody similar backgrounds. It just seems


48 diversity. Respondents from Bayside Park discuss this as a prob lem more than participants in the other two communities. Finally, sisterhood is resisted as an impractical business endeavor. Betty and Sue talked enthusiastically about women supporting each other by taking part time jobs watching, fixing, and cleaning r services signifies support and safety. But for the clubhouse manager, sisterhood hurts business. Toni shares her professional opinion on the problem: Originally I guess there was a strong feeling that people should be hired from within the community, mem management outside of here, almost all private clubs have employment rules of you can be an employee or you can be a member, but you cannot be both. Originally it was in order to work here you were pretty much not 100% but close, right? So that makes it more towards a sustainable business model. And a sustainable business model in professiona e business model. conceptualized or practiced. I have identified three ways women engage with sisterhood, including through loving relationships with women, by accepting co nflict in the interest of the greater community, and through serving the community. Others suggest that sisterhood is less important for younger women or resist the concept entirely. These residents argue that intimacy invades privacy and unity ignores dif ference, so they emphasize similarities with other wrought with tensions I wish to illuminate rather than resolve. Even as women engage with sisterhood, they uncover the challenges in their constructions. Sisterhood is not a clear or easy


49 objective, and the resulting frustration can be felt in their accounts of struggling to achieve an ider Bayside Park as an identity setting for belonging. Contesting belonging Louie thinks of Bayside Park as a place where she can be herself: People, I guess, were drawn her around the country in my 5 th magazine and in the back of it wa combined with the among all residents. For some, belonging is disti nctly gendered rather than sexualized. For those who think of the community in gendered terms, it is a unique place which fosters belonging. For those who think of the community as lesbian, sameness renders them unremarkable so that they need not be define d by sexuality. The tension is problematic: one form of belonging relies on uniqueness while the other seeks to undo uniqueness. I will first explore belonging as lesbians and belonging and women, and then consider tension between them. For some, Bayside Park is the first place they felt they belonged. Others appreciate that the community allows them to maintain a lesbian identity in the face of homophobic retirement options. Toni argues: their life, and then when they went to a retirement home or assisted living they would have to go back in the it was just n ice, for the first time in my life, to belong. Truly belong. I mean I definitely felt that as soon as I got here.


50 difference when I ah everybody teased me about having a bald head, but it was accepted. expectations. And not n in here. Likew ise, living in Bayside Park enables Louie freedom unavailable anywhere else: I think Interestingly, all of the women I spoke to at Bayside Park were out as lesbians before moving there, and consider themselves unique i n this way. Although she feels belonging as a lesbian, Louie is not comfortable with how other residents present lesbian gender: Louie: One of the things that Toni and I experience that I have actually not experienced in my history of being gay, that is mo and what I consider h do see it, whereas ying engagements among women who engage with the community as a setting for belonging as lesbians. Participants assume that residents of Bayside Park are lesbians (though Linda knows she refers to Bayside


51 I mean I only came out when I was 32 but at that point it took me a while to adjust to the army who had a mustache. And so so it took me a while. much stronger, both of those fit my personality better than frou. sides of the dance floor. Jessica: Which sort of refer s to ? Linda: Butch and fem. Jessica: So why not say those words? same might be understood as r ejecting or disengaging from dominant, homophobic language. On the other hand, some resist identifying Bayside Park as a lesbian community because e end up having well roversy in Bayside Park: They lived in their own house in [Northern State] together. Th ey live in their own house here. Their relatives have come here. When they drive in the gate, they rush them into the you going to do? Go dance together in the clubhouse and then all pretend? Go back to our houses in a community of all women to be ashamed? I do get


52 or There probably will b e a complaint. Because in reality they probably need permission to put that up. It would be a junk pile if you allowed anybody to do anything they want to c Donna: Not in public. But retired people are always holding hands. Lisa: Really? Really? Donna: Claudia and Debbie used to all the time. L people are not really comfortable. There are a lot of retired military who have s ince deceased or gone to Heritage Estates who were not comfortable. And not comfortable Donna: There was some internalized homophobia. Lisa: Yeah and there still is. and ups. Jessica: Even inside the com e conformity but also conflict over evidently lesbian self presentations. While Toni felt she could shave her head in Bayside Park, Lisa and Donna feel they cannot h old hands. Alongside resistance to belonging as lesbians, there also exists a narrative of belonging


53 I know even when we lived up North, I knew most of the housewives on our street. You tak ing characterizes all three communities, but Donna understands it as gendered in Bayside Park. In this section, I argued that participants contest belonging as lesbians and women. For some, the community allows freedom of gender and sexuality, though women contest appropriate r community representations (rainbow flags) and interactions (holding hands). Finally, Donna does not contest belonging as lesbians, but instead asserts belonging as women with Bayside Park as a setting for safety. Contesting safety Though she does not identify as feminist, Donna offers a feminist critique to patriarchal entitlement to women: bothersome to Separation from men removes women from acts of male dominance. While Nancy and Lisa joke that most o f the dogs in Bayside Park are female, the threat of violence concerns Linda: sexual choices because of it. But yes there are quite a few women here who have been provides Linda solace from men: need is to be with women. Dysfunctional though some of them may be my need is to be


54 Linda declares a need to be with wo men and not men, even gay men who she does not consider some ways invokes a lesbian separatist ethic similar to Rich (1980) or Frye (1983). Perhaps resp ondents think of securing safety as more of a practical concern than a political endeavor, or perhaps this reflects that women do not define their practices in terms of feminist theories. Situated on the outskirts of a small, culturally Southern town, B ayside Park provides Lisa: This is the South. We were very fearful of being without a suppor t group and Donna: Not knowing anyone. scared out of us a couple of times with you know, toothless wonders with confederate flag shirts and their unneutered Rottweilers walking around! (laughs) It was just weird. experi Age makes a difference and also a lot of these people are RVers. They would not feel My former p to fend for ourselves against [this town], we have serious women here. I would feel comforted i n that. They would handle it. Some participants perceive Bayside Park to be an oasis of safety in a hostile environment: fe. Lisa: That I do like. It feels very safe here to me. Donna: You know you can walk the dog in your bathrobe here (laughs) which I do! And other people as well. Lisa: No, no. Espec ially


55 patriarchal and homophobic violence in the context of gated, suburban whiteness While guns and gates contribute to the perception of safety in Bayside Park, the most meaningful safety precaution is the rule that restricts men from the clubhouse. This rule is what and is source of many conflicts. For some, restricting males from the clubhouse enables the freedom to publicly present lesbian selves: uge to them to be able to Lisa: I mean, they slow dance together at our dances, but that clubhouse is very no men. No men or children are allowed in the clubhouse at all Except for during the hours of eleven to one and they have to be accompanied by a crazy unless you have a nametag on. Because excluding men is so important t strictly enforced month old grandson to the clubhouse at the wrong time. Linda tells a story about a resident who wanted to bring her grandsons to the clubhouse: But those boys will never be a member of the clubhouse. The clubhouse is women only. And they can only be on clubhouse property with a member only between the hours of 11 saw that people were not going to rally around her, then she settled down. I feel sorry for what the rules were before you m


56 power. The rules in Baysid e Park are not negotiable. Even though they sometimes create division in the community, rules are assumed to be a necessity to make Bayside Park a safe space for women. I andson to the clubhouse: Betty defends herself to me, insisting that she was only stopping by to pick something up, the incident. Sue waits for Betty to finish her sto ry and then says she believes in adhering to the rules. She admits that the result is sad, but insists on following the rules. Betty nods and concludes that her baby grandson was not accepted because of racism (Fieldnotes November 20). Though Betty did not explain how the incident demonstrated racism, I interpret her response as fitting into a communal pattern of justification. For example, Linda thinks the rainbow flags should anything they want hobby. And Lisa was right behind, sh breaker by nature too. So it was a little bit Because restrictive clubho only clubhouse is usually more important to olde r women: It does create more cost: it creates more burden, it is harder to maintain, harder to sustain absolutely it does. I me just, I like that factor. Linda also suggests that commitment to rules is stratified by age:


57 Among participants, opinions did not differ by age. Women who supported or reconciled rules ranged from their forties to their seventies. At 60, Linda is perhaps the strongest supporter of rules. Louie is only three years younger and offers the strongest critique: fear factor somehow the men will tak rights, where women have played so much of a secondary role, you know in the 40s, the just think we can al l work. [My fear] primarily is simply that I feel exclusiveness creates a little bit of a negative atmosphere in that sort of fear, fear of the outside. It sort of it of a class, really... I come from such a melting Sexuality, gender, age, race, class, and the emphasis on safety intersect to create an atmosphere of fear for some residents. This creates problems developing and marketing the community: There is a small group of women who are j ust anti men. Anti men period Anti straight men, anti gay men, anti when you have an developers] is that it seemed to they we and gay women certainly doubles your market. The needs of ex military, closeted, and anti rainbow flag women require conformity for the community to be a safe haven. Safety is protected through external policing (i.e. guns and gates) and internal surveillance (i.e. clubhouse rules and etiquette preve nting holding hands). Residents face the difficult task of reconciling different approaches to engaging with community: for sisterhood, belonging, and/or safety within the context of the financial crisis, with material concerns about marketing and developm ent. Findings from Bayside Park some see Bayside Park as a place for sisterhood, others assert that it is a place for friends who happen to be lesbians. While many think of the community as a place for belonging, residents


58 while many live in Bayside Park for safety, others argue that the imperative for safety creates fear, restriction, and extremism. I consider how these contested approaches to engaging with tting for contesting identities. I speculate that conformity to safety is successful because it can be enacted systematically, while residents lack consistent frameworks (i.e. feminism, essentialism, or sexuality) or strategic actions from which to practic e the abstract concepts of sisterhood and/or belonging. How are identities produced by and within Bayside Park? Varying approaches to safety create conflict and render the community a place for contesting 5 identities. While some see Bayside Park as a place for sisterhood based on feminism or essential bonds between women, others assert that it is a place for friends who happen to be lesbians. While many think of the suggest that this emphasis on safety creates fear. Though varying and idealized conceptions of and safety nonetheless exist as meaningful practices women engage with in Bayside Park. Like hopes: The community I studied seemed to me a magical fiction a hope for lesbian unity, a hope for a better world of women, a solution to all needs, a lesbian love celebration, an enactment of all th at might be good about mothering. Of course, disappointment when the reality did not live up to an ideal was often severe (Krieger 2005:5). Next, whereas conformity is constructed as a resource in Sanctuary Cove because members imagine and produce Family, it is a difficult imperative in Bayside Park because members imagine different and conflicting goals. The needs of ex military, closeted, and anti rainbow flag 5 ing convey.


59 women require conformity for the community to be a safe haven. Safety is protected through exte rnal policing (i.e. guns and gates) and internal surveillance (i.e. clubhouse rules and etiquette preventing holding hands). Conformity is enforced over sisterhood and/or belonging, not because safety garners more ideological support, but because it can be enacted systematically. By contrast, residents lack consistent frameworks (i.e. feminism, essentialism, or sexuality) or strategic actions from which to practice the abstract concepts of sisterhood and/or belonging. In short, safety is an easier goal to p ursue, so women support the community by reconciling their frustrations with rules. If residents could both reconcile rules and foster sisterhood and/or belonging, the community might feel accrediting to more participants. But as it currently exists, Baysi de Park is accrediting for some and stigmatizing for others because identities are contested. Finally, evidently lesbian self presentations are contested. Bayside Park enables participants to publicly present lesbian selves in some ways (i.e. Toni shaves h er head, an otherwise closeted couple dances in the clubhouse), but restricts self presentation in others (i.e. Lisa and Donna cannot hold hands, rainbow sails are considered inappropriate by some). What does it mean for identity to live in Bayside Park in the post gay community era? Lesbian identities are salient, and lesbian community is salient as a place for identity, safety, and care taking. Although lesbian identities and self presentations are contested in Bayside Park, lesbian identity seems salient. Regardless of whether or no describe themselves, put rainbow sails on their RV, or wear their hair short, I believe that they all their community exists and has not become less meaningful for residents. While Loftus (2001) holds that gay identity loses meaning as society becomes more liberal, respondents from Bayside Park illuminate that liberal discourse is not pervasive. In fact, r espondents from all communities described suburban Florida as especially inhospitable and homophobic, but feel safe within their communities. Residents like Louie left big cities where lesbian identity was accepted to live in Bayside Park, where she could outskirts of a small, culturally Southern town, Bayside Park provides safety from an area which is


60 perceived to be dangerous. Finally, all communities are characterized by care taking, but it is understood as distinctly gendered i n Bayside Park. How does Bayside Park utilize dominant discourse to negotiate privilege and stigma? I collective engagement with dominant discourse Of all thr ee communities, respondents from Bayside Park articulate the greatest awareness of their race and class based privileges. Lisa and community. Admitting that she feels s class and whiteness (2003) work on ga ted communities, Louie worries that living in a gated community creates a white, middle class fear of others. While she cannot individually change the racial or classed make up of Bayside Park, Louie attempts to counter white, middle class fears by resisti ng the community as an identity setting for safety. Next, respondents reject dominant patriarchal control and may attempt to disengage from homophobic language. Lesbian separatism is theorized to be a radical feminist rejection of patriarchy by separating from men, but residents of Bayside Park do not conceive of their community as a feminist pursuit. Rather, they loosely connect their goal of sisterhood with feminism, and suggest that, because of their age (as either older or younger women), they are not d oing feminism. Though they relate feminism to sisterhood, feminist rhetoric is more apparent in their discussions of safety. Donna challenges male entitlement to women, s of male women. Perhaps respondents think of securing safety as more of a practical concern than a political endeavor, or perhaps this reflects that women do not define their practices in terms of feminist theories. Relatedly, resisting words that can be considered pejorative and/or calling others, it appears to uphold homophobic discourse by invoking surveillance over evident lesbian self resist social


61 based privileges, but it is unclear whether or not this results in social change. By disengaging with men, Bayside Park changes conditions so that residents are less subject to patriarchal violence and control. It is less clear whether or not disengaging with heterosexuals enables accrediting or stigmatizing c ommunity practices. I would Bayside Park.


62 CHAPTER 5: HETERONOR MATIVE HERITAGE ESTA TES Heritage Estates is a gated master planned retirement communit y spanning three counties in Florida. Though the community was first developed in the 1960s, it was not until the early nineties that it took its current form as a sprawling upscale development featuring well maintained amenities like golf courses, tennis courts, and recreation centers. One of the fastest growing areas in the U.S., about 80,000 people lived in Heritage Estates (U.S. Census Bureau 2000). The community is age restricted, meaning that homes must be occupied by at least one person 50 years of a ge or older. No one under 19 can live in Heritage Estates, though they can visit for up to 30 days per year. In the year 2000, the community was 98% white, with a median age of 66 (U.S. Census Bureau 2000). The average income per household was $93,000 per year, more than double that of the U.S. average ($42,228) and Florida average ($36,421). In 2008, the average price for a home in Heritage Estates was $225,000. When I began my research, I had not planned to interview women at Heritage Estates because it i s not an intentional community for lesbians or gay men. I learned about Heritage Estates in my interview with Josephine and Beatrice. When I asked them where they would live if Sanctuary Cove did not exist, Josephine suggests Heritage Estates. Beatrice cut s her off saying, comments. Aside from Heritage Estates residents, t here were no positive reviews of the community. Beatrice does not elaborate on why she could not live in Heritage Estates, but ach other, and they have different kinds of clubs. Play golf in touch with her friends in Heritage Estates. Soon thereafter, I met Glenda and Lee, who


63 involved ut an hour to over two hours, averaging almost two hours. Seven households participated, with a total of 13 women. These 13 women represent a statistically insignificant portion of the total population of this multi county community. One single woman inter viewed alone. Two roommates interviewed together. Though they felt that others likely perceived them as a couple, one was clear to express that she does not identify as a lesbian. The remaining ten interviewed as five couples. They range in age from 59 to 77, with an average age of 68. In this chapter, I argue that conservatism and heteronormativity do not prevent homophobic stigma through blending, residents are ab le to take up privileging 6 identities in upscale Heritage Estates. I describe how blending is constructed as an accrediting identity practice and convey interactional strategies for blending, focusing on gender, age, and class. Heritage Estates is an apt setting for gendered blending because of the gender bending present presentations of femininity. Discursive norms about aging women and reduced sexuality enable participants to blend in the retirement community though gay men cannot. I describe parti that participants utilize classed norms of privacy and politeness to manage discrediting information. Finally, I explain that although lesb accountable to heteronormativity and subject to surveillance from the group. To conclude, I situate these findings by revisiting my initial questions. I address how identities are produced by and within Her itage Estates, the significance of Heritage Estates for identity in the post gay community era, and how residents engage dominant discourse to negotiate privilege and stigma in Heritage Estates. 6 I use the grammatically incorrect active tense to connote that identity is actively conferred


64 Unlike Sanctuary Cove where doing Family and low profile produce accrediting gay identities or Bayside Park, where the pursuit of varying goals produce contesting identities, respondents come to Heritage Estates for its beautiful homes and upscale amenities, producing privileging identities. Residents of Heritag e Estates enjoy the activities and social opportunities They made this place a utopia. Its nickname is Disneyland for Adults beca Residents discuss the i mportance of convenience and safety in their retirement years. Heritage Estates an ideal home for 74 year old Laura: y. When you go to a regular city and you baskets or make a quilt or you name it, it go to a regular community, I see the hassle. Probably even in [mid sized city] you have to huge difference. After her health was unexpectedly diminished, Glenda felt unsafe in a big city. Heri tage Estates offers her security: and that I can go out and do things and not have to worry about getting lost and not It just appear lost or upset or whatever that I could become easily a victim. I mean people prey on people who are more defenseless, and you kno While residents of Bayside Park and Sanctuary Cove discussed safety from homophobic violence, respondents from Heritage Estates also discuss safety from violence towards elders. Rather than describing the suburbs as dang erous for lesbians, they construct the suburbs as safe for elders. Convenience and safety appeal to many residents, and convey information about privilege which I will focus on in the next section.


65 Despite the convenience and safety the community offers el ders, most participants are uncomfortable with the conservative beliefs held by residents of Heritage Estates. Doris describes move to Heritage Estates, recalling of Heritage Estat during his last campaign, Shirley says. Joyce and Kathleen were the only participants who did not against e would Glenda and Lee negotiate conservative media: Glenda: This is a Republican stronghold, and we are bombarded with conservative news the magic wand what I would do is at least have equal voice. Not necessarily change pinion but at least to have bothers me is the only news that comes across our local radio s tation is Fox News. I go I mean they assigned each TV of the Fox News station not harassment in any way. Because the problem of conservative news in a community gym can be managed, it is not problematic enough to make Gle nda and Lee unhappy in Heritage Estates. The benefits out of hate relationship


66 In terms of Glenda decides, after recalling an encounter with a local preacher. Shirley tells a story in which a and homophobia, some initially felt that Herita Heritage Estates promotional video, she says: Before we came up here we saw a DVD of this place and it was all men and women dancing, and going to the restaurants, and doing everything. Man and woman, man and woman. No two women here omen. Whereas respondents from Bayside Park and Sanctuary Cove imagined utopian communities before moving there, residents who moved to Heritage Estates from Bayside Park were surprised that the community exceeded their negative expectations. Reflecting o n her happiness in Heritage Estates, Bobby says: Despite first Although residents are frustrated with conservative attitudes and sometime s relate this to homophobia, they do not feel scrutinized as lesbians. Instead, they feel scrutinized for their political or religious beliefs: so different from most of the people, that that becomes the dividing line more than anything else. worl stigma:


67 han that you have a little problem here. Although the community is perceived as hostile to difference, participants do not feel like outsiders on the basis of sexuality. Referring to perceived hostility towards difference, Doris Conservatism and heteronormativity do not prevent participants from enjoying living in Heritage Estates because they negotiate politics inte ractionally (for example, by participating in the Democrat club or changing the channel in the gym); and, more importantly, because their sexuality is not evidently embodied. In the following section, I consider Heritage Estates as an identity setting for describe how blending is constructed as an accrediting identity practice, compared to ctional strategies for blending before examining the factors which help lesbian elders blend in Heritage Estates, including class, age, and gender. Following those descriptions, I consider how ituate my findings back into the literature in order to answer how identities are produced by and within Heritage Estates, the significance of Heritage Estates for identity in the post gay community era, and how residents utilize dominant discourse to nego tiate privilege and stigma in Heritage Estates. Accrediting b lending Many of the women I spoke with shared stories of stigma involving being fired from jobs, called names, and various other forms of harassment. At times it was necessary to lie about relationships to prevent harassment. Lee says that during college, she trie d to rent an apartment And we always for misrepresenting relationships, a strategy which might be useful in the heteronormative


68 retirement community, Heritage Estates. Although participants can likely sympathize with Lee from women who take up these strategies today. Judy met a woman in Heritage Estates who was bow flag from [Northern City] and I was out there and everything was is articulated through expressions of distaste for people who actively pass for heterosexual. For Cara: We have a choice: we can either continue our lesbian inclinations or we can parade as heterosexuals. And I have found many lesbians do that. I went to a meeting recently of who I had actually dated in [Bayside Park Town] several years ago. And no one there e. So she does the when she was in her 50s and had been gay since childhood. But suddenly she found herself lost in the gay community and merged with the straight c There are gay women among them who are very carefully cloaking their identity as having been gay because And I did hear one woman complain that she had been hit on by a woman, within t his group. So I imagine that hushed the others. Now I attended perhaps two or three gay women merging and cloaking their sexuality. The women Cara describes manage th eir self presentation in ways that decrease negative interactions with homophobic residents; but because they present misinformation, they pass merging is active. ing in effect. Residents


69 Blending re quires competent management of impressions in varying contexts. Lee explains that with Glenda and Lee is informative: Glenda: One of the big things for me, is t in law or some crazy thing like get ecting on how blending accredits, Judy says: then you find out, it always identify them as being, you know, gay. happen Blending compels interactional strategies which neither proclaim nor deny lesbian argues: I m who and what they get it. Bobby and Kate also refer to themselves as a unit when talking about where they are from, while noting that this is different from explicitly disclosing the nature of their relationship: introduce ourselve


70 again and if they said anything fine If they asked anything fine B obby: Right. we We ll terms of being gay. information either. Blending exemplifies competence negotiating identity since they do not need to lie about or call attention to lesbian identity. Participants utilize a hidden language to network with lesbians in Heritage Estates, referring to people a (Goffman 1963:12). Bayside Park and the town it is located in are useful markers of lesbian identity among women who blend. Shirley and Doris discuss making lesbian friends in Heritage Estates: Doris: You knew automatically. Shirley: We just assumed that she was. You would have been shocked had she not been. Doris: Well I can tell you one person, how they did And so then we became friends with Judy that way. If s omeone lived in Bayside Park or knows of the community, women can assume they are lesbians. Importantly, this way of networking enables everyone to blend. As Judy tells it: I would never pick Doris out. And I did [Bayside Park Town]. So Shirley came up after the meeting and wanted to talk to me Bayside Park was the magic word and I knew that if they knew of Bayside Park that and of course that But then I said I came out right away. So then they felt more comfortable.


71 tions requires her to come out. Whereas women who merge do not network, women who blend can network and come out skillfully in certain situations. Here Judy describes networking with another woman: We pulled up in the parking lot. We both had identical [ve hicles]. So we started talking Because she was sure that the woman was a is risky because the other person may be merging, as Helen learned in this account: I turned around to he know you from [Bayside Park Bayside Park Town] character everybody knows, who of course is a gay Cara and sudden ly it hit her who I was. uninterested in networking because she is merging: club, n So it was just kind of sad Her account highlights the construction of ethical difference between merging and blen ding. while blending is respectable and accrediting. lesbian and gay el resource for succeeding in heterosexual society. Located in a historical context, assimilationist homonormativity secures privilege for gender normative elders (Rosenfeld 2009:622) by c ondemning people who disclose their sexuality, fail to pass, or reproduce stereotypes of homosexuals as licentious, gender transgressive, and disrespectable (629). By describing moral differentiation between people who assimilate, this study extends Rosenf


72 that lesbian and gay elders negotiate the assimilationist precept of passing with the post 1960s gay liberationist mandate to live openly by distinguishing between merging and blending. So far I have presented the ethical constructi on of blending, uncovered how and with whom blending is produced interactionally, and addressed its relevance in the literature. Blending is constructed as an authentic lesbian identity against fraudulent merging with heterosexuals. Striking a balance of f itting in but not trying too hard is accrediting for participants. These findings challenge the assimilationist/gay liberationist binary by describing an identity practice which engages with both: blending. I will now consider how the convergence of gender age, and class render Heritage Estates an ideal identity setting for blending, beginning with gender. Participants blend because they accomplish feminine gender presentatio ns (West and Zimmerman 1987). For Valerie and Chris, lesbian ge nder presentations are related to age and the political era in which they came out: Chris: Maybe at this age. Valerie: But I do see younger younger way that they want to identify. I think we probably became more central because we g. Or I was used to hiding much more that you were. people do, and Coming from my age group, I thought of myself as being homophobic in many ways sometimes. I think my friends in [Northern State] were mainly what you would comfortable around women who present femininity and also pass. Chris describes as feminine: Shirley: No one person in this whole word would call you a dyke.


73 Doris: Probably not. (laughs) Shirley: Well Doris, you lik Doris: But I am no way I can be masculine. Participants blend in Heritage Estates because they present femininity. In the following ch apter, I will argue that femininity is constructed as a prestige symbol in Heritage Estates, especially among participants who moved there from Bayside Park. Participants suggest that another factor enabling them to blend is that straight women relax femi nine gender presentations as they get older. Overwhelmingly, they insist that as they rt hair. Everybody nearly has short hair. They all look alike you mainta in that as women get older, they wear short hair and less feminine clothing. As gendered markers shift, participants are less able to discern sexuality, further enabling them to blend in a retirement community. you assume connected gender solely to aging, Chris says:


74 I mean you see people who a them not to have to have long hair, and not to have it curled, and have it straight, and n ot honestly if you go in the Publix over here to me. And you amazing. Chris says that straight women in Heritage Estates look like lesbians because the community attracts athletes with its array of sports and activities. People who do not embody normative gender have their sexuality and sex called into question; and because normative femininity is constructed as inactive, sport i s a pervasive site for lesbian baiting (Crawley, Foley, and Shehan class bodies. Especially since residents ow elders with socioeconomic privilege present gender, a subject I will return to in greater detail in the next chapter. nd as women, Glenda blends while dancing in public: Lee and I have always danced together on the square danced. women have gone ahead and done that, and it kind of raises s ome eyebrows definitely. But as far as dancing fast Bobby and Kate can also dance in fast styles together and still blend: Bobby: There would be no slow dancing. Definitely fast dancing. And in fact, the straight people well women, not men. to high school the guys never Bobby: Yeah and today gay. Yeah they [gay men]


75 While lesbians who present femininity can dance together, this option is unavailable for gay men who cannot dance and blend; and participants agree that lesbians blend more easily and encounter less homophobia than gay men. Doris and Shirley discuss: boys have a much To the people on the street teachers. But the boys Shirley: Well we had dinner with t wo of them at [a nearby] restaurant and the boys sat on I would turn this way to look at Doris an d across the way these women were going ooh just giving us awful glares. And when we got up to walk out, the boys walked out first and we followed. just like that! Because he was overweight and he was not handsome prototype man. (normative hetero masculine) gender. Few partic ipants know any gay men in the community. Joyce says: One of the things we miss in our life here is men. We had so many male couples who know to say we know any men her e. Any gay couples. This is such an active community for the softball, and the bowlin g, and the golf, and all like to go sit on the beach and be beautiful. (laughs) You know, even in their retirement generally up here. The guys that are here, are in committed relationships and have been together Participants suggest that gay men have different interests than lesbians, i nvoking stereotypes conclusion is that gay men are different than gay wom


76 n do not encounter homophobia in Heritage Estates: The gay men to the best of my knowledge are as accepted by their neighbors as the gay women are. women are to theirs. I attempted to convey that participants take up feminine gender presentations, and relayed their beliefs that lesbian gender presentations are shifting. Femininity undoubtedly enables participants to blend; and they are further assisted by the gender bending presentations of straight older women which participants attribute to age and an active lifestyle. As a resort style retirement community, Heritage Estates provides an apt identity setting for gendered blending. Finally, I described how participants blend as women, enabling them to fast dance (but not dance intimately). I contrasted their experiences with those of gay men, who are notably absent from the community. Their absence sug gests that evident gay identities are not accepted in the community, further constructing Heritage Estates as an identity setting for blending. I will now consider how age enables and produces blending in Heritage Estates. reports that t these Kathleen explicate: Joyce: We call ourselves frogs behind see b ad in other and judge. And I think the people are just extremely accepting. the where they are, they become safe and comfortable with who they are. And therefore suspicion


77 Kathleen allege that growi ng older puts life into perspective so that people become more accepting. Indeed, participants find the world more accepting now and refer to liberalizing public attitudes. Referencing the television show The L Word and celebrities like Rachel Maddow and S we find is people that a Although for attitudes relax with age, others suggest that the eldest among them are the m ost homophobic. Interestingly, participants view age as a bigger indicator of homophobia than conservative perspectives. attributes her modesty about public affection to age: Now this is an over their 50s, 60s, 70s and so still we come out of an era where we anyway. You know if this was a 20s community, might some of the gays hold hands in as most people do even today, not being able to be affecti onate in public so this is no different. would kind of like to but we


78 heterosexual public affection distasteful, indicating modesty about her s exual identity and sexuality in general. Although she attributes not holding hands solely to age, her account is also embedded in a history of managing discrediting information (Goffman 1962:12). Further, sexuality is not evidently embodied by elders; an d the presumption that older relationships. She describes her relationship with Judy: disappointing to tell you the tr all. I got divorced after 19 years. And I got married when I was 18. I was in the singles world for a long time dating men, never considering dating women. But when I came here and met Judy, I h ad never met anybody who I respected as much. And whose personality matched mine so well, whose interests jived with mine, and we We share everything. The responsibilities, the animals, whatever. I have a relationship with Judy like I always wanted to have like I was supposed to have I just re important to be able to communicate with each other on the rest of life, which is much more [than sex]. Sex is less important for Laura now than it was when she was younger, allowing an intimate girlfriend who is like a black widow about women, aging, and reduced sexuality enable participants to blend in the r etirement community. people become more accepting as they get older, and elders are not accepting but society is


7 9 liberalizing demonstrate that they feel acceptance in Heritage Estates even as they do not agree to the classed practic es of privacy and politeness which produce blending in Heritage Estates. The middle class expect a right to privacy (Arluke and Killeen 2009:218 ). Privacy and politeness seem to distinctively reflect class norms in Heritage Estates. Priva cy plays such an important role for managing information that it extends even to interactions between lesbians who closet that they never get too personal w maybe it Kathleen: There have been several people during the cou rse of my career that have approached me because a lesbian, or gay Jessica: Wanting to be friends with you on that level? Kathleen: Yes, yes, yes. of my private life. Privacy is instrumental to managing identity because it allows participants to not owe information to anyone personal identity, it will be necessary for the [discreditable] individual to know to whom [s]he owes much information and to whom [s]he owes implicitly assume d, sometimes incorrectly: up and make an announcement. You know, o not I have kind of a guilt feeling thinking Although this participant does not identify as a lesbian, she has been gr anted what Goffman calls


80 disclosure are normative, it would be unusual for others to ask about, or for these two to contextualize, their relationship. Assumptions t hat straight neighbors know participants are lesbians also enable blending. t bat an communicating that they are a couple because they a ssume it is evident. Bobby feels accepted by her straight neighbors because there is another gay couple on their street. She says of her straight neighbors: We like them very much. And they knew we were gay from day one because we have some gay friends tha t live across over on the next block. On the next street, who they already knew. They had already moved there. The presence of other lesbians in Heritage Estates helps women to feel comfortable because they can assume that their neighbors know and accept that they are also gay, without having to she was a lesbian: There were two women that lived across the street and everybody knew they were a couple and referre d to them as a couple. And I was at a neighborhood picnic and Valerie is the only participant w ho tells a story in which residents ask about a relationship. In all other accounts, privacy and politeness prevent this kind of interaction. Even though she had a different experience, Heritage Estates can nonetheless be understood as an identity setting for classed blending. Valerie blended even as her neighbors violated the privacy norm, and her positive evaluation of the situation is not surprising given that blending is not about keeping gay evident does not need to be correct to be useful. Doris assumes that her neighbors know that she and Shirley are not straight:


81 Our neighbors on both sides know that we are obviously not straight, and there has bee n negative response to us here on this street. normative privac y and politeness collude to result in Doris feeling accepted by her neighbors. With privacy and politeness as community norms, Doris explains that residents of unless I tell somebody or exhibi t the behavior of whatever, when I answer those questions. If anybody asked, Privacy and politeness norms mean that Joyce is not asked to disclose personal information. She passes respectably, or blends, be from my conversation with Kathleen and Joyce reveals how privacy and politeness enable them to blend in Heritage Estates: intimate with but at least been Jessica: What do you mean by that? Kathleen: are just extremely e talked to personally.


82 Some of our neighbors officially They feel comfortable with their straight neighbors because of the privacy norm which allows them t disclosure. Joyce suggests that if they do not know, they would not care anyway. the people th same sex relationships, the community is governed by the norms of politeness. Glend a says: I have never run into anyone that works for Heritage Estates or is associated with Heritage Estates who has been anything but w have been polite, they have been professional, they have been helpful. Politeness enables people to feel accepted, even when they acknowledge that it might only Laura: And I think that in general not the gay community but the community here they physically appear more jock y looking than we do. But and what about you? Laura: I have no idea what they think is going on. Judy: What they say yeah I know. Wh they think. n an uncommon example of negativity, Joyce and Kathleen say: Joyce: The only little nasty som etimes only


83 to upper class norms of privacy and politeness. Blending must be located within the context of class. I made two claims in this section: first, privacy is a valuable resource for managing discredi table information; and second, privacy and politeness norms are embedded in the class culture of Heritage Estates. Thus Heritage Estates is an ideal setting to blend and interact with heterosexuals without stigma. In the next section, I discuss how respond Estates. Blending in community from there, you form friendships or you have the tendency to it usually starts out characterizes the network by its golf leagues, softball teams, and businesses gay here. And so you kind of meet pe ople second and third hand, but that you would have never I went down and took a beginner [pickleball] class and I made a friend, Carol. Who talked you know, family. She introduced us to stuff like that. There is also a with notices of social events, news updates about same sex equality legislation, a gay business


84 Glenda, the Lambda Club builds a gay positive, or accrediting, identity for the gay community: People were so isolated that our idea was to simply bring people together so that they could recognize that there is on building an identity for that gay community. You know, just to develop a posit ive image about worrying about what somebody else thinks. [their] if we reach a point that we submerged in Hetero ville. forced to live in a place that is The lesbian network carves out a gay s But the formation of the Lambda Club was any different from most of the women here came from smaller Midwestern and Southern towns. They were 60 yea very closeted lives where they got together with very small groups, they went to each life. And here Lee and I come along and say, really resistant. I mean adamant. never called it anything gay. So we had some parties that we had probably a hundred people at or whatever, and then we stepped up to a larger facility, and we had a larger party with live entertainment and a catered dinner. And there were a lot of people who were just aghast at the idea that there were gonna be people there tha t could see that we


85 and being in Heritage Estates and not worrying about it. Reflecting back along this sense that we can be visible and of blending: unspoken kind kink in that. In order to gain support for the Lambda Club, Glenda and Lee had to convince people that they could participate in the club and still blend. Glenda explains: It will happen from time to time in meetings, where all of the sudden people will start they they they the gay community. And I challenge that ever y time it happens because I believe that all of that business of they challenge people and tell them over, Glenda suggests that fear is often unfounded in Heritage Estates and encourages people to ent this kind of repositioning has been successful since some participants still consider blending and networking to be counterintuitive. group, except, we know all, and some do not mention it in conversation. Although the club has been active for three years, participants still negotiate the issue of its visibility in the community. For instanc want to make the commitment. They want to be able to do whatever they want to do when they Some view participation as activism which they are unwilling to identify with. The majority of participants have founded clubs based on their interests and politics, but will not play a and up, and I think that will be


86 throat. Glenda and Lee are m ore out and out identity. Although they participate in clubs and events for Democrats, environmentalists, atheist s, though the club is social, they view participation in the club as political since it requires being forthcoming about lesbian identity. Participants exp erience heavy surveillance from the network to blend. Surveillance controls appearances and behaviors; so that in order to maintain privilege, participants must submit to heightened accountability to heteronormativity (Crawley et al. 2007; West and Zimmerm an 1987). Valerie tells a story which demonstrates accountability to heteronormativity at Heritage Estates. While at a private Heritage Estates club with lesbian friends, she recalls: t we were just slow dancing and then a couple of other gals at the table got up and were slow dancing. nobody looked at us. Honest to god, nobody cared. It was just no big thing. But the next day I heard ab out it on the phone s ex being associated with me then that she might lose her pension. I mean talk about blowing things out of proportion! And then at country club. A nd I happened to sit across from the woman who reported me to this other person. And we actually got in a pretty heated discussion about that dance at [the club]. We were Lesbians in Heritage Estates disagree on what constitutes blending. For Valerie, slow dancing assessment of the setting, blending is a social activity that implicates other lesbians in the of identity contests i n the community: makes no bones about wherever he is howing up at the pool


87 that I swim at and I kind of stay away from him just because have been talking among themselves and then finally on e of them felt comfortable talking men get out of identity, breaching the expectati pa rticipants are morally implicated by the behavior of other lesbians and gay men (Goffman 1963:47). one of their daughters, who is gay. hates it. And told us that because of who we are and we interact with them and her husband, in particular, her husband now sees that she could be gay you could be in a permanent relationship and you have to Joyce: But their daughter tends to flaunt I mean, she has her hair like buzzed. She some [ex asperated expression] As monogamous lesbians who blend, Joyce and Kathleen answer to heteronormativity and


88 I get upset at upset but at say a gay pride parade up in [Northern city], then some of the gay guys get a little carried away and really flamboyant and I guess that scares the straight people. They really just t events that would be pretty w Participants share an ethic of blending, even if they dispute what constitutes it. These accounts not only demonstrate that participants feel implicated by the behavior of other lesbians and gay men, but al so that identity contests are moral endeavors. Lee pursues a new a generous loving people and we want to give back to the community and want to help the community in whatever know that we are here, to the larger community. And, this is who we are. wanted to be a part of the Lambda Club. Participants share an ethic of blending, even if they dispute what constitutes it. Blending prevents stigma, enabling residents to take up privileging identities in the upscale retirement community, Heritage Estates. Findings from Heritage Estates In this chapter, I argue that because respondents blend, they have the option to afford


89 passing for heterosexual, in the conservative and heteronormative context. I describe how blending is constructed as an accrediting identity practice and uncover how and with whom it is produced interactionally. Situating blending as a gendered practice, I find that doing femininity enabl aging and sexuality enable lesbians to blend in the retirement community though gay men adictory claims politeness norms. Because these norms are embedded in the middle to upper class culture of the community, Heritage Estates is an ideal setting to subject to surveillance from the group. Blending prevents stigma, enabling residents to take up privileging identities in t he upscale retirement community, Heritage Estates. constructed as an accrediting presentation of lesbian identity in Heritag e Estates, enabling respondents to take up a privileging identity. Following Goffman (1959), I demonstrate how the setting compels and produces privileging selves by considering how gender, age, and class produce spaces is less notable in analysis of Heritage Estates than in Sanctuary Cove and before moving there. In fact, residents who moved to Heritage Estates f rom Bayside Park held negative expectations for a heteronormative community, but were nonetheless pleased by everything available to them in Heritage Estates. Conformity is expressed through heavy surveillance from the lesbian network to blend. Because res idents are morally implicated by the behavior of other lesbians and gay men, participants experience heightened accountability to heteronormativity within the lesbian network. Addressing how identity is produced through interactions in various contexts, I among lesbians, respondents refer to people and places that are likely to be meaningful to


90 lesbians bu t not mixed contacts (e.g. Bayside Park). Age, gender, and class converge to enable limited public affection so that participants can fast dance together in public, but not slow dance or hold hands. Respondents uphold privacy both among mixed contacts as w ell as other lesbians, thereby preventing the exchange of discrediting information. I have foreground blending self presentation through the chapter. What does Heritage Estates mean for gay identity in the post gay community era? Supporting Keleher and Smi participants find the world more accepting now and refer to liberalizing public attitudes (e.g. Rachel Maddow and The L Word ). But Heritage Estates itself is very conservative, so liberalizing a Whereas residents of Bayside Park and Sanctuary Cove are concerned with safety from homophobic violence in suburban Florida, residents of Heritage Estates constr uct the suburbs as safe for them as elders (rather than as lesbians). I argue that this is because privilege enables as a bigger indicator of homophobia than c onservative perspectives, although they disagree on its effect. Discussion of the Lambda Club illuminates tensions between gay identity and blending it is clea r that many resist the club because they hold that participation requires revealing gay identity. Lesbian identity is not as useful as privileging identities as white, middle to upper class people. Whereas lesbian identity can discredit and stigmatize, pri vileging identity is accrediting in Heritage Estates. Respondents have the ability to opt out of lesbian identity and community. In this way, Heritage Estates demonstrates what Jo (2005) argues when she differentiates between middle class women who have th e option to assimilate and oppressed women who need the lesbian community. Residents have the ability to assimilate but also want to be a part of the lesbian community. Their assimilation does not diminish lesbian identity, since respondents distinguish be tween accrediting blending and disrespectable merging. Hence, unlike mergers who give up or mask lesbian identity, they still engage in doing lesbian identity.


91 How do respondents from Heritage Estates engage dominant discourse to negotiate privilege and s tigma? Residents are accountable to heteronormativity in Heritage Estates, and class respectability. They do not reject dominant discourse and benefit from dominant presumptions about aging, gender, and sexuality. Overwhelmingly, participants benefit from race and class based privileges. They can afford to own homes in upscale Heritage Estates and blend in m iddle to upper class interactions. Embedded in the class culture of Heritage Estates, privacy and politeness are shown to be valuable resources for managing discreditable information. How do residents of Heritage Estates produce, maintain, or resist social conditions? Heritage Estates utilizes dominant privileges to secure well being for residents.


92 CHAPTER 6: FROM BAYS IDE PARK TO HERITAGE ESTATES Especially for lesbian elders who left Bayside Park to live in Heritage Estates, into different regions according to the contingencies embedded in them for the man agement of ( Goffman 1963:83). Participants say they left Bayside Park because of struggles over power or privacy, or because it was not the nirvana they hoped for. But why did participants choose to move to Heritage Estates, a drastically different kind of community? This chapter describes how residents of Bayside Park make sense of women who move away to Heritage Estates before addressing the perspectives of the women who moved there. I argue that participants want lesbian com munity in an upscale setting. I also describe how participants construct blending as accrediting compared to separatism, which supports their construction of femininity as a prestige symbol. ld go to Heritage Estates. Donna: Right, with their new girlfriend. Donna: We went out there just to see what the hell it was. Lisa: It was very Christian Lisa: Yeah, creepy. And that kind of In a nutshell, she was wearing a Cuba t shirt and women in the Heritage Estates say,


93 Women in Bayside Park construct Heritage Estates as homophobic, conservative, hyper heterosexual, and male dominated. When she moved to Florida, Ton i was warned that Heritage Estates had a reputation for transmitting sexually transmitted diseases, and Lisa is disgusted by tage Estates would be hell for me. A bunch of Republican to Heritage Estates choose to return to the straight world: and they function best when there are some men around. And I think these are the women who have gone to Heritage Estates. Something pissed them off about here. So want to go back to like it. Lisa says that women who moved are closeted, and others feel that Heritage Estates is a that they have o you have to hang with living in Bayside Park: up to Heritage Est communit y this is going to be the one I live in. So community. Louie associates gated communities with fear of the outside and a lack of racial diversity undesirable qualities she is willing to tolerate in order to live in Bayside Park, where she feels she belongs as a lesbian: belonging want to be accepted


94 Compared to heteronormative communities like Heritage Estates, Bayside Park offers Louie and Toni a rare opportunity to belong. Reflecting on the women who have left Bayside Park for imagine going up there. Where they know who moved to Heritage Estates actually as I thought it woul hidden like it was a really shame eritage Estates is us so that we can fit into society just so bad [in Bayside Park] if laxing, and people are very appreciative of having this kind of a Networking with lesbians in Heritage Estates is affirming because participants view the setting as Su Estates is more or less homogenous by race, age, and class; so I interpret her desire for ide Park.


95 Although blending is accrediting, interactions with heterosexuals are limited. Valerie conversation then we will with our gay friends. We just would. Even if we were talking about golf, and accepted by their neighbors an d the broader community, they do not have straight friends: Jessica: So you have a lot of lesbian friends [in Heritage Estates]. Do you have straight friends that you hang out with too? Bobby: Here? No. Bobby: No. I mean the Kate: Well we did play golf once with the two guys. Many participants who moved to Heritage Estates from Bayside Park do not have straight friends and prefer to network limited than with lesbians: Shirley: I want to my social time I want to be with lesbians if I can. Sometimes I wander off. But I find these heteros very charming a lot of them, ver y charming. I love them, Doris: Yea h that is and talk about their partner too easily. I mean ou partner I just fall in love with people so us. They ta lk about themselves. Shirley: Well it mea comfortable. Whereas in a social gathering with heteros

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96 S of straight men: Shirley: When they g et together, the men want another man to be there. So if our go out together I think all women. a contradiction not lost on Doris. Likewise, Vale rie prefers to associate with lesbians in Heritage Estates: I find it interesting though who you choose to associate with. I mean I personally would really feel that 90% of everything with their straight neighbors. And they just love doing that. And I just of the sudden when the husbands are there, the husbands are more of the focus. I just men are the center of the universe and they think they are, center of the un men, and prefers socializing with lesbians. Participants who moved from Bayside Park want the comfort and convenience of an upscale lifestyle and lesbian community, a comprom ise they find in the lesbian network at Heritage Estates

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97 More and My friends when I was growing up were all hetero except one or two exceptions. But no. And that to me that there are hundreds of us gives us a little more pride, you know. And it gives us a little fiscal pride because I think Heritage Estates realizes that there are hundreds of us and ny community know from Bayside Park to Heritage Estates. Their preference to ne twork privately rather than live in Bayside Park reflects class conflict. convey class privilege through markers of status in descriptions of their lifestyles. They have h eld careers as professional athletes, entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, or professors. They grew up in the wealthy end of their city with a stay at home mom assuming they would go to college. They at they grew up during the Great Depression, or retired a decade early. They take advantage of the gyms, restaurants, hospitals, golf courses, and social clubs available to them at Heritage Estates, and consider these activities inexpensive. Some admit tha not discuss money, some participants from Heritage Estates refer to their salaries as a measure of success: or hit a While these experiences do not necessarily indicate wealth, participants confer meaning to experiences in ways that produce and confer privilege. preferences were not met in Bayside Park. Kate grew tired of doing Es tates far exceed those at Bayside Park. Glenda says:

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98 I think one of the things that drew us to Heritage Estates so much was the breadth of things that are available to us here. And Bayside Park, I think is doing a wonderful job for any number of women who interested in something with more diversity. Not only in terms of types of people, but also in terms of activities. use this word to describe Heritage Estates, Bobby acknowledges that the community is not ethnically diverse: Why [Heritage Estates]? One woman mov ed here. Then another. Then another. And then people from Bayside Park moved here from Bayside Park. And people from Bayside Park just started hearing about it. And it was sort of a good compromise. Because you had a large community. You had more diversity sort of, you know at least there were men. I Blacks, very few Asians. Some, you know for us coming from an all le sbian community, at least there were men. And a lot of shopping and conveniences nearby. Tons of golf courses for the golfers, pickleball, tennis. You know, any sport that you want. A learning center if you want to take classes. Judy finds the activities available in Heritage Estates superior to those in Bayside Park: incestuous feeling. And I know that that was true, but I could just feel it. And such a limited grou of things to do and people to do it with. It was too small. All of the women who lef he ates offers Bobby and Kate the lesbian network, lots of activities, and nicer home: unbelievable what they have here. Bobby: This is another big factor which I just thought of: the houses are not manufactured. And we had just suffered a few years ago Hurricane Charlie which hit because they wer e manufactured homes for as much as they were worth, or to replace them. So it was sort of dangerous financially. That was a decent piece of it. And so for us now, we had good friends here. We were going to get a stick built house. We were going

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99 to have a s many activities as we wanted nearby. And there was a good gay community, not just our few friends. Heritage Estates strikes the balance of attributes they want because these conveniences are more important than recognition as lesbians. For example, after Kate admits that they were holding because oh not just as comfortable [because] everyone knew at Bayside Park but n in Bayside Park, their comfort does not rely on public recognition of lesbian identity. A big factor for many was that they did not want to live in a manufactured home. For Lee: what those house. clue. Kate: On wheels? (laughs) Residents of Heritage Estates are not merely conveying aesthetic preferences when they discuss homes they are marking privilege. Doris is aware that living in a site built home is a privilege: At Bayside Park everyone was everyone there were pretty similar in their economic level. There were a few people that had really a lot of money. But the average person was pretty much could make it there in that community. Here you have and out and go to wherever you want to go. live in Heritage Estates:

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100 pretty optimistic outlook. If we were both not in this environment, and sitting in a walk up flat, with 66 bucks a week or whatever I think that what plays into that is choices that each and every one of us made at some point in our lives. Congruent with capitalist discourse, Kathleen implies that economic privilege is related to choice. Because she has the money to make choices, her statement is at once an observation and justification of privilege. Imbued in some of these comments, then, is an evaluation of the women living in manufactured homes as inferior. As such, descriptions of homes also suggest something live in them. For example, Chris and Valerie are surprised that Chris: How about educational levels? What kind of people were over there? Valerie: Oh highly educated women. Chris: Really? Valerie: Highly there with Masters degrees. Many of them that taught in different colleges and universities. On the basis of occupation or income, residents of Heritage Estates see themselves as different Bayside Park were blue collar except for a few. A handful I mean like Betty. They did factory ys that many taught in universities, while Doris says most were blue collar. Yet respondents consistently construct Bayside Park as For some strange reason we both like classical music. We both love the arts. I love guess outside of their own small world. By stating her preference fo r middle to upper class activities, Doris constructs Bayside Park as low class. Participants who moved to Heritage Estates position themselves as outsiders in Bayside the

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101 Bayside Park correspond with economically they tended to be close to one another, because they caravanned. So it was sort of like the RV people and the rest of us. Very cliquish. Very cliquish. Cara offers useful insight into class conflict: You had people there who had worked as telephone operators and were struggling just to pay for their small RV, and then you had people who were retired lawyers, and retired veterinarians. That would have been fine if Bayside Park was, you know, a few thousand people. But it was only two hundred and fifty. So the socioeconomics really came into Years Eve, you know, they would sell tickets and have big New Years Eve dances. Well there was a group that wanted tickets for ten dollars a person, and there was a group that wanted the hundred dollars with a full dinner. So it was a conflict. You know, it became a because they could. And the people who were struggling wanted to be at Bayside Park so badly because of the lesbian community, that they were willing to really struggle to support it. So yeah I think the differences in socioeconomics doomed it, you know, from the beginning. to participants mov ed away from Bayside Park because of class conflict is reductive given that they could have moved anywhere. I argue that they moved to Heritage Estates to take up identities which validate privilege sbian gender presentation. Residents of Bayside Park say that most women in their community are butch. Donna to men trannie how often are you going to see a woman dressed in a depends on where she is. Whereas Toni can now embody butchness (an evident lesbian

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102 presentation) because she lives in Bayside Park, participants who later moved to Heritage Estates are accredited by blending and take pride in presenting femininity. d class by asking to drink out a glass instead of a bottle. By mentioning that there was no conflict between her and butch women, she implies that she might have felt dist anced by her difference as a feminine presenting lesbian. Judy, a self classed gender performances do construct difference: wd. And there are a lot of them. But there are a lot of people who are very interesting too. Doris and Shirley and all of them, we share an interest in books and other things. Laura: Democracy and liberal points of view. Judy: The arts. Laura: And we used speak Likewise, Doris also constructs interest in classical musi c apart from interest in sports: was no one to talk to. It was really hard. Judy politics, and the arts. By relaying these quotes, I am not supporting their correlation between interests and class or prestige. Plenty of professional athletes, f or example, are in the upper class, and plenty of activists engage in politics but do not have class privilege. So while the implied correlations are not necessarily accurate, participants refer to these specific interests as way of marking status and layi ng claim to privilege. Interestingly, even though most participants play sports in Heritage Estates, Doris does not see sports as a source of isolation in that setting. I

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103 suggest that this is because her feminine presentation is marked as prestigious in He ritage Estates. Participants from Heritage Estates construct femininity as a positions them as different from women in Bayside Park. Prestige symbols establish a claim to prestige, honor, or desirable class position that might not otherwise be granted (Goffman 1963:43). Although femininity is always performed rather than given, it does not automatically Yet among lesbian elders in this st (Goffman 1963:43). Doris and Shirley recall their first trip to Heritage Estates: Well lord we drove in here and it was so beautiful, you know? And the women were all dressed up at this [Heritage Estates] Country Club. e jeans and a sweat shirt. That just upset me no end. And so they looked down on people that would dress up. Well I like to dress up! ng middle to upper class lesbians (Goffman 1963:25). By contrast, butchness is constructed as a restrictive stigma symbol (43). In another example, Valerie is held accountable for failing to blend by slow dancing in the square and feels unjustly assessed b ecause her critic is butch: The woman that reported me is real dyke was I was shocked. Valerie implies that this woman was hypocritical because she does not blend. Because the Heritage Estates. Chris tells a story: [They] were playing and golf and they happened to be matched up wi th another couple of women. And they and these other they were lesbians and they were.

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104 Chris thinks this is unfair, bu express distaste for evidently gay self presentations. This logic implies that if someone is harassed it is their fault, thereby constructing butchness as a stigma symbol and femininity as a pr estige symbol. As women who blend, residents of Heritage did not utilize living in Bayside Park as a resource for managing stigma. Confounded by women who live to Bayside Park, Kathleen need she can afford. This chapter focuses specifically on participants who moved from Bayside Park to Heritage Estates. Because many lesbian elders left Bayside Park to live in Heritage Estates, their narratives illuminate how these communities are settings for taking up disparate identities. I Estates residents constr uct Bayside Park residents as low class because they do not share interests. Moreover, Heritage Estates women felt like outsiders in Bayside Park. But residents of Heritage Estates positively evaluate their gendered impressions, producing femininity as a p restige symbol. Residents of Heritage Estates focus on the privileging aspects of identity. By virtue of their gender, age, and class, women have the ability to blend and are accredited for doing so. They have the option to afford little salience to lesbia n identity. Middle to upper class in their world than lesbian identity (though some respondents accredit both). Although lesbian identity is contested ter rain in both Bayside Park and Heritage Estates, it is not emphasized in a meaningful and perhaps essential role in their lives. These findings suggest that emp hasizing privilege is a classed alternative to taking up lesbian identity.

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105 CHAPTER 7: CONCLUSION to consider the relationship between identity and community, the significance of lesbian and gay communities, and how privilege operates within a stigmatized population. In the first chapter, I frame these questions and goals in the literature. Chapter 2 addresses my methodological commitments and choices, position as researcher, and approach to interviewing and analysis. Chapter 3 describes how Family and low profile produce accrediting gay identities in Sanctuary contesting identities in Bayside Park. Chapter 5 reveals how blending allows residents to assume privileging identities in Heritage Estates. Chapter 6 focuses on residents who left Bayside Park for Heritage Estates, suggesting that emphasizing privilege is a classed alternative to taking up lesbian id entity. In light of concerns that the gay community is immaterial, I do not attempt to identify or Sanctuary Cove, Bayside Park, and Heritage Estates. While this stud y is not comprehensive or identity in three distinct social spaces. I attend to the co construction of gay community as both discursive idea and material prac tice by reporting how participants construct Sanctuary Cove peculiarly enabling an accrediting collective practice of gay community and identity. describe both how identity is practiced in communities, as well as the role of expectations for heteronormative community influences participants even before they arrive;

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106 so I address how ideas and practices of community produce identities that are accrediting, contesting, or privileging. My first goal is to learn how identities are produced by and within communities. To this end, I consider both expect assertion that how we imagine a place produces and governs it is especially useful for Heritage Estates express mixed feelings about their expectations for the community as hate Heritage Estates suggest that expectations are not determ inistic, but rather, negotiated ective practices (i.e. Family and low profile; sisterhood, belonging and/or safety; and blending) produce identities (accrediting gay; contesting; and (2003:17) and when on about gay identity in suburbia This study addresses how selves can be constructed by and within communities by attending to contexts, interactions, and self presen tations. By considering self presentation to produce identity, I purposefully engage the performative aspects of identity so that it is less categorical than open and contestable. profile presents unmarked selves among insiders, while a strategic high profile protects the community from outsiders. Gates and guns protect residents from outsiders in Bayside Park, while restricted clubhouse access enables lesbian i nteractions. Respondents manage discrediting information among both lesbians and mixed contacts in Heritage Estates through coded language and privacy norms. Produced less in

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107 space than through relationships (e.g. Kennedy and Davis 1993), communities enabl e self presentation of identity outside of residential neighborhoods. For example, Sanctuary Cove conveys identity for residents in an Amish restaurant, while Toni goes out into the local longing in Bayside Park. C onformity to community norms for self presentation and interaction has been shown to compromise well being and produce conflict (e.g. Heath and Mulligan 2008; Krieger 1983). This problem is evident in Bayside Park, where members lack consistent frameworks or strategic actions from which to practice their abstract and often conflicting goals. Here, conformity to safety both enables (e.g. dancing in the clubhouse) and restricts (e.g. holding hands, displaying rainbow sails) evidentl y lesbian interactions and self presentations. In Heritage Estates, respondents experience surveillance from the lesbian network which requires heightened accountability to heteronormativity. By contrast, conformity is utilized as a resource for emphasizin g unity and Family in Sanctuary Cove. Here there is little conflict since residents share a consistent vision for community. My next aim is to understand what it means for identity to live in these suburban gay communities in the post gay community era. Un my participants were not financially pushed out into the suburbs from gay enclaves. They have chosen to move for retirement and can all afford to own their homes, from at least $55,000 in Bayside Park to a attitudes towards homosexuality enable gay assimilation cannot account for assimilation in heteronormative Heritage Estates. This overwhelmingly conservative community cannot be desc only Bayside Park. Findings from Heritage Estates suggest that lesbian identity is not as useful as privileging identities as white, middle to upper class people, s upporting class privileged lesbians have the option to assimilate. But rather than exemplifying the loss of salient community or identity, participants seek to build a lesbian network in Heritage Estates. I

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108 find that their assimil but rather, the classed pursuit of both privileging identity and lesbian community. Though some suggest that gay community is losing importance in the post gay community era (e.g. Rosser et al. 2008; Brown 2007), participants in my study engage meaningfully with the communities they live in. Through their practices of low profile Family at Sanctuary Cove, residents shif t from distancing themselves from dominant n to accrediting gay community and identity. Community is undoubtedly meaningful in Bayside Park, where residents take up the difficult work of striving for utopia despite conflict. Although residents of Heritage Estates have the option to abandon community, they pursue lesbian networking and distance themselves from those who merge with heterosexuals. lesbian identity, I find meaningful relationships between commun ity and identity. Lesbian identity is salient at Bayside Park (though it is contested) and Heritage Estates (though it is optional). In Sanctuary Cove, lesbian and gay identities are made both salient and not salient in the context of community, so that ga y identity builds Family, while unmarked gay identity diminishes sexuality presentations in suburban Bayside Park a nd Sanctuary Cove are at least sometimes marked. While respondents from these two communities construct suburban Florida to be hostile to lesbians and gay men, residents of Heritage Estates feel safe in the suburbs as elders. This demonstrates that age, ge nder presentation, and class constitute different conditions for lesbian and gay elders than middle aged gay men. For example, care taking and safety are shown to be pervasive concerns. While I do not wish to undermine the unique challenges aging presents for LGBT people, my findings uncommonly suggest that age can be utilized as a resource which enables feminine heterosexual elders. Moraga and Anzalda (1981) hold that the notion that gay identity builds community refle cts a white, middle class experience. My data affirms this criticism of gay community

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109 implicitly since it brought my white, middle class respondents together. This study demonstrates that privilege enables gay community and identity, since all of my respon dents enjoy white privilege and can afford to live in a resort style, gated, or upscale retirement community. But it also draws out differences between privileged lesbians. Whereas Knopp (1990) finds that those with the most privilege have the greatest opp ortunity to live as openly gay, my study problematizes the corre lation between privilege and gay identity since residents of Heritage Estates employ privilege as an alternative to living as openly gay. Among the privileged residents of Heritage Estates, ga y identity can be a stigmatizing option among more privileging identities as travelers, intellects, or art enthusiasts. So while privilege enables gay identity, gay identity is merely optional for those with the most privilege. My third goal is to consider how communities reject or employ dominant discourse in order to avoid stigma. Participants in all communities benefit from race and class based privileges. Some respondents from Heritage Estates and Sanctuary Cove note the lack of ethnic diversity as a problem, while residents of Bayside Park take a more c ritical stance against racism and classism by resisting what they consider to be a fear driven imperative for safety. Supporting a white, middle class fear of ot hers. As white, middle to upper class people, residents of Sanctuary Cove and Heritage Estates make gains through privileged presentations of respectability. Residents of Sanctuary Cove uniquely emphasize monogamy. Along with Heritage Estates, residents co nfer respectability to lesbians and gay men through volunteering which is Lambda Club in Heritage Estates. Residents in both communities are conferred respectabil ity through gender normative presentations. discourse is pragmatic: residents engage dominant discourse in ways that secure privilege (i.e. doing Family) and reject stigma (i.e. doing low p rofile). Doing Family is at once a privileging endeavor which confers respectability to white, middle class people, and a rejection of heteronormative discourse

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110 identity counter to the dominant narrative by doing low profile. Residents of Bayside Park reject dominant patriarchal control and attempt to disengage from homopho bic language. Challenging patriarchal entitlement to women and securing safety from male violence (e.g. Frye 1983; Rich 1980), participants might be described as lesbian separatists, though many do not identify as feminists. However for some, Bayside Park upholds homophobic discourse by invoking surveillance over evid ent lesbian self presentations. Residents of Heritage Estates are held accountable to heteronormativity but also benefit from its resourcefulness. of heteronormativity as a resource for succeeding in heterosexual society. For her respondents, the presumption of heterosexuality is a baseline from which to approach all public interactions; so they strategical ly conform to gender norms, condemn gender transgressions, and maintain friendships with other people who pass. normative gender presentation s, her participants, they also engage in reconstructing gay community and identity to be accrediting through their collective practices of Family and low profi le in Sanctuary Cove. Thus, heteronormativity remains a resource but in this case, it is used as a standpoint from which to reconstruct and accredit gay identity rather than pass for heterosexual. In Heritage Estates, participants do use heteronormativity as a resource for passing yet are clear to distance (2009) work by suggesting that lesbian and gay elders negotiate the assimilationist precept of passing with the post 1960s gay liberationist mandate to live openly. Moreover identity work must be located with in the context of middle to upper class interactions which resourcefulness. Al though the middle to upper class is usually portrayed as homogenous, I find class conflict between resort

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111 interactions and bodies are utilized as resources for managing discrediting information a nd taking up privileging identities. My hope is that by paying attention to the role of privilege, I lend empirical support to our understanding of identity as produced by and within settings and relationships that are located in the context of race, class and gender. In sum, t his study addresses how communities produce, maintain, or resist social conditions. Race and class based privileges maintain privilege in all communities, though some residents resist whiteness and classism in Bayside Park. Sanctuary Cove produces social change by enabling accrediting gay identities for residents. Baysi de Park resists social conditions by disengaging from patriarchal control and violence; while disengaging from heterosexuals is seen as useful by some and problematic for others. Residents of Heritage Estates maintain social conditions by blending in a het eronormative retirement community.

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119 Feminist Studies 28(2):303 333. Visser, Gust Geoforum 34(1):123 137. Warner, Michael. 1999. The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life. New York, NY: The Free Press. West, Candace and Don H. Gender and Society 1(2):125 151. Weston 29 in Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Wirth, Louis. 1 The American Journal of Sociology 44(1):1 24. Wolf, Diane. 1996. Feminist Dilemmas in Fieldwork. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, Inc. 28 in Gay Community Survival in the New Millennium edited by Michael R. Botnick. New York, NY: Haworth Press, Inc. Yeandle, Susan. 1984. New York, NY: Tavistock Publications. Zuo, Jiping and Robert D. Benford. 199 The Sociological Quarterly 36:131 56.

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121 Appendix A: Guiding Questions for Interviews Biography 1. Tell me a little about yourself/yourselves. How did you grow up? a. Demographics: Age, upbringing, location from, etc. b. Tell me about your career. Do you still work? 2. Have there been major turning points in your life? 3. Who lives in your household? a. For couples: How did you meet? 4. Where did you live before moving into the neighborhood? What was it like? a. Were there any gay men or lesbians in your old neighborhood? First Impressions 5. How did you find out about this place? Did you have any concerns? 6. What kinds of quest ions did you have about the community? What kind of things did you look into before deciding to live here? a. Did you look into living in any of the other gay and lesbian communities? b. Did you come for a visit first? Were you able to meet any of your neighbors ? 7. Can you tell me about your experience moving here? 8. Can you tell me about the things you find important about living here? 9. Has the community changed since you moved in? Has your view of it changed? 10. Has the city/town changed since you moved in? Neighbors 11. How would you describe the neighborhood as a whole? Who lives here? 12. 13. a. Do you ever get together? What kinds of things do you usually d o? b. Can you tell me about the last event you attended? What was it like? 14. Can you tell me a little about the parties and other functions that go on here? a. Are there ever separate events for women and men? Community

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122 15. How do you feel about this being a neighborhood with both women and men/only women? a. 16. Are there any negatives to living here? Is there anything you would change if you could? 17. How do you decide who is allowed to live/visit here? a. Are there rules about age, gender, sexuality, etc? i. How do you keep the community gay and lesbian/ women only? How about trans or bisexual people? b. How do you yours elves identify and why? What word best suits you? 18. What sorts of activities do you do outside the neighborhood? Are you involved in any organizations in the area? a. Are you involved in any lesbian or gay social or political groups? Conclusion 19. If this place d 20. What are your plans for the future? How long do you plan on living here? 21. 22. Do you have any questions for me?


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