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Migration as an active strategy to escape the ‘second closet’ for HIV-positive gay men in Barcelona and Rome

Di Feliciantonio, C (2018) Migration as an active strategy to escape the ‘second closet’ for HIV-positive gay men in Barcelona and Rome. Social and Cultural Geography. ISSN 1464-9365

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Abstract

© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Centred around the life narratives of HIV-positive gay migrants in two Mediterranean cities, Barcelona (Catalonia/Spain) and Rome (Italy), this paper frames their decision to migrate towards the big city as an active strategy to escape the ‘second closet’, a concept introduced by Berg and Ross in 2014 to refer to the hiding of HIV-positivity by gay men to avoid negative social condemnation. In line with recent literature on gay migration that has emphasized its relational and situated character, the paper focuses on several factors leading to the decision to migrate: sexual desire and the imagery of the big city; the configuration of the welfare regime allowing free access to antiretroviral therapies (ARTs); access to employment in the services sector; and the absence of strong ties in the new city. Methodologically the paper draws from in-depth interviews conducted with 24 HIV-positive gay men between 2014 and 2016.

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