Diving into the Unknown. Partnering and Migration Choices in Narratives from Italy

The paper proposes an analysis of narratives of gay and lesbian coupling through the experience of migration. It is drawed by in-depth interviews conducted to Italian gay and lesbian people on migration from their hometown. Following the idea of “relational migrations” proposed by Gorman-Murray (2009), I propose partnering as a twofold concept, which I name “diving platform”. On one side, I analyze how being in a relationship works as an encouraging force when it comes to migratory choices in terms of destinations and timing. Coupling constitutes a driving factor that reinforce the will to “dive” into the unknown experience of migration, often more than other factors traditionally considered, such as economic or educational motivations. On the other, coupling seems to work as a stable platform that reassures individuals over the feeling of displacement brought by migration, softening its disorienting effects. The connection of being coupled with the idea of “being home” and its power of social legitimation over the choice of leaving hometown is also discussed.

These two aspects are particularly important in the social and cultural context of Italy, where gay and lesbian people are not recognized as subjects of rights. I argue that homonormativity and new forms of normativity connected to coupling are structured as powerful means of resistance to the displacement brought by migration. I then suggest that a queer approach is needed in order to recognize their pervasivity and to bring to visibility different voices of resistance.