Queering Shelter

An LGBTQ+ led project on shelter/lessness

Understanding shelter from a different point of view

From the perspective of LGBTQ+ people who have experienced domestic abuse, violence, homelessness and other forms of avoidable harm:

What does it mean to have (or not have) shelter? What does shelter actually look like?Is shelter enough or do we need more than just shelter?How can we make sure services aiming to provide shelter meet our needs well?
These are the big questions we want to answer.

Why this, why now?

All this talk of shelter during the pandemic ('shelter at home', 'shelter in place') got us to thinking: What actually is shelter? What does it look like? What does it mean to have shelter, or to need it? What are the violences and other harms that we need shelter from? Neither research nor policy has been able to fully answer these questions about shelter. If we don't understand it, how well can we really be providing it?

The aim of this study is to try and get to the bottom of these questions about shelter and shelterless-ness. It will do that by looking at these questions from the perspectives of LGBTQ+ people, who are overwhelmingly - and sometimes disproportionately - affected by various forms of shelterlessness. It follows the queer theory principle that exploring marginal rather than only mainstream perspectives can yield new knowledge via new ways of knowing.

We hope this work will help inform and improve services seeking to provide shelter and support to survivors of direct, structural and cultural harm - both LGBTQ+ and non - by developing a common understanding of what shelter actually is, what it should be, and what its limits are.

As LGBTQ+ experiences of shelterlessness are often invisibilised, and thus our needs often go unmet, we also intend for this work to elevate the voices and stories of LGBTQ+ survivors and improve understanding within policy and practice of LGBTQ+ survivors' needs.

Shelter and shelterlessness

There are lots of ways of defining shelterlessness. We understand it as being exposed to avoidable injury to basic human need. That includes:
direct harm - such as family abuse, hate crime, sexual assaultstructural harm - such as unfit policies and discrimination that lead to people's basic human needs being undermined (e.g. homelessness, deteriorating health)cultural harm - such as heteropatriarchy and other intersecting oppressions such as racism, ableism and classism, used to justify violence, inequality and oppression.
With this in mind, the Queering Shelter project will explore what it means to have shelter from a range of avoidable harms across this spectrum, especially for LGBTQ+ people who are often disproportionately affected.


This Leverhulme-funded study is being led by PJ Annand (a queer intersectional feminist with lived experience of violence) in collaboration with other experts in policy, research and creative industries.

The full team is still being developed. The majority will have lived experience of direct, structural or cultural violence and of living with LGBTQ+ identities.

Take part

Details on how to take part in this study will follow soon.


Get in touch using the email button below if you are a community expert, researcher, artist or storyteller interested in consulting on this project.

Or if you just want to say hello and be kept up to date, you can email with the subject 'QS Mailing List'.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Department of Sociology, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH

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