Where Are the Lesbian Architects? Visibility and Its Challenges | The Plan Journal

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Olivier Vallerand

Until recently, discussions of the relation of sexual orientation with the built environment have mostly focused on gay men at the expense of lesbian women and trans people. This study thus presents a review of discourses in architecture and design as well as interviews with lesbian designers to understand how and why queer women have been almost invisible. The privileged position of men allows expression of their sexual orientation with less risk than women who are already facing discrimination. Furthermore, structural inequities have forced women architects to focus on issues of equality and inclusion for all women, with the side effect of often silencing how other forces such as sexual orientation or race combine to create more complex power relations. Invisibility is a problem, however, as it limits the ability to respond adequately to diverse social needs and to sustain more inclusive design disciplines. Bringing to the foreground the intersection of identities with experience of space can encourage younger generations of architects by offering role models and diversifying the range of life experiences informing the design of spaces.

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