Professor Yvette Taylor, University of Strathclyde
RSE Personal Research Fellowship awardee

A man standing in front of a building
Professor Yvette Taylor. Photograph: Ian Georgeson Photography

Professor Yvette Taylor, Professor of Education at the University of Strathclyde, was awarded an RSE Personal Research Fellowship to develop the project Queer futures: alternative models for social justice, an investigation into what LGBTQ+ life, or ways of living more queerly, can tell us about social justice. 

Speaking about the work, Professor Taylor said,

Queer life is often subject to inequality and risk, impacted by external environmental stresses such as the cost-of-living crisis and climate crisis. Unfortunately, we still hear about the injustices surrounding queer experiences, with legislative progress threatened by political, social, and economic pressures, such as the pause in equality policies we have seen in the post-COVID period.”

Through this project, Professor Taylor questions whether an intersectional focus on queer life, empirically and theoretically, can trigger a re-imagining of contemporary crisis. She suggests that queer investments – materially, culturally, and emotionally – can help inform solutions to crises.

Professor Taylor notes that queer-feminist research has long explored agency within marginalised communities, including the everyday realities of sharing, cutting back, and making do. She explains that such communities often respond with resilience, creativity and pragmatism, and that the overlooked strategies that exist in LGBTQ+ volunteering, queer community environmentalism, and not-for-profit enterprise ventures bring together non-normative practices. They often exist in temporary, ad-hoc, and peripheral places, compelled to ‘do things differently’ without financial investment or State support.

Professor Yvette Taylor

My research explores class, gender, and sexuality intersectionally, animated by feminist-queer theory, and culminating in my new book Working-Class Queers. Time, Place and Politics (Pluto, May 2023). I consider sites and practices of community making, which we might think of as activism, but which might also involve everyday actions around care, mutual aid, volunteering, or simply getting by in an often hostile world. LGBTQ+ people might create other ways of living out of choice or necessity. I want to ensure these practices achieve resourcing and recognition for potential ways of thinking through alternative social justice models.”

Professor Yvette Taylor

The RSE-supported Queer futures: alternative models for social justice project explores LGBTQ+ enterprise, volunteering, and environmentalism as potentially queer cases with often not-for-profit, donation, or pay-what-you-can policies and non-waste, carbon-neutral strategies. Equality, diversity, and inclusion practices may operate very differently in these places than in mainstream organisations. Yet sustaining such places – or trying to act differently or non-commercially – may be a real challenge. The work of mutual aid, or volunteering, may not pay back in ways hoped for, representing other challenges for imagining queer social justice.

The project has enabled Professor Taylor to host Queer and the Cost of Living Crisis, a series of seminars that facilitated a sustained dialogue between third-sector organisations, MSPs, interdisciplinary academics, creative practitioners, and LGBTQ+ student representatives from across Scottish Universities. She also Chaired the RSE’s International Women’s Day event The Cost of Being a Women. Informed by the seminars, Professor Taylor has developed open-access resources, a co-authored volunteer toolkit, and is now working with designer Madeleine Leisk to produce an illustrated booklet to ensure a diversity of dissemination. 

Professor Taylor added,

I’ve been working with local and national LGBTQ+ organisations throughout the Queer and the Cost of Living Crisis seminar series, and I’m now planning an additional Queer Social Justice Pop-Up workshop which will appear in Portobello and Inverness Pride events. Sometimes such activities are framed as extra or administrative, rather than academic or activist – I disagree, and the RSE Personal Research Fellowship has allowed me to question and expand that thinking.”

Over the remaining months of her award, Professor Taylor hopes to continue workshops and events in academic, community, and policy spaces, with open-access resources planned for, including a Queer Social Justice zine co-produced with workshop participants and Coin-Operated Press. Through an array of activities, she hopes to create a learning resource for a ‘queer commons’ of living in and through contemporary crises. These activities will also contribute to the edited collection Queer in a Wee Place: Small Nations, Sexuality, and Scotland (Bloomsbury), which will be published open-access.

Professor Taylor’s ultimate hope is for a queerer world in which LGBTQ+ communities thrive and are a source of inspiration. She believes there is an urgency in thinking about ways of doing life differently and hopes to always work in, with, by, and for LGBTQ+ communities.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON RSE PERSONAL RESEARCH FELLOWSHIPS:

Focus on a research project for up to 12 months, funding covers a temporary replacement to enable the awardee to take research leave.