Find Your Way
does it mean to be orientated? This book begins with the question
of orientation, of how it is that we come to find our way in a world that
acquires new shapes, depending on which way we turn. If we know where we
are when we turn this way or that way, then we are orientated. We have our
bearings. We know what to do to get to this place or to that place. To be
orientated is also to be turned toward certain objects, those that help us to find
our way. These are the objects we recognize, so that when we face them we
know which way we are facing. They might be landmarks or other familiar
signs that give us our anchoring points. They gather on the ground, and they
create a ground upon which we can gather. And yet, objects gather quite
di√erently, creating di√erent grounds. What di√erence does it make ‘‘what’’
we are orientated toward?
My interest in this broad question of orientation is motivated by an interest
in the specific question of sexual orientation. What does it mean for sexuality
to be lived as orientated? What di√erence does it make ‘‘what’’ or ‘‘who’’ we
are orientated toward in the very direction of our desire? If orientation is a
matter of how we reside in space, then sexual orientation might also be a
matter of residence; of how we inhabit spaces as well as ‘‘who’’ or ‘‘what’’ we
inhabit spaces with. After all, queer geographers have shown us how spaces are
sexualized (Bell and Valentine 1995; Browning 1998; Bell 2001). If we fore-
ground the concept of ‘‘orientation,’’ then we can retheorize this sexualization
of space, as well as the spatiality of sexual desire. What would it mean for
queer studies if we were to pose the question of ‘‘the orientation’’ of ‘‘sexual
orientation’’ as a phenomenological question?
In this book I take up the concept of orientation as a way of putting queer
studies in closer dialogue with phenomenology. I follow the concept of ‘‘ori-
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