American Sociological Association

Theory Making from the Middle: Researching LGBTQ Communities in Small Cities

Urban lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community research in sociology has largely ignored LGBTQ communities in the most common urban form: small cities. In this article, I argue that LGBTQ communities in small cities are an underexplored source of theory making about LGBTQ communities more broadly, and I highlight the ways such research enhances LGBTQ community research. I first discuss a definitional framework of LGBTQ communities in small cities. In other words, what do we mean by small cities, and what do we mean by LGBTQ communities within them? I then discuss the handful of examples of research on LGBTQ communities in small cities, describing the kinds of theoretical questions such research raises. I examine specifically how small‐city LGBTQ communities shift our thinking about urban LGBTQ community research in the following four areas: social networks, spatial and temporal dimensions of community, identity intersections, and allyship. Next, I identify three reasons why a focus on small cities is necessary to theory making in LGBTQ and community research more broadly, including and moving beyond questions of representation. I conclude by highlighting the methodological diversity needed to effectively research LGBTQ communities in small cities and briefly address a few challenges in moving this field of research forward.


Clare Forstie





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