Happiness is often seen as the product of a good life, and can be attached to normative institutions such as marriage. The pursuit of happiness has been critically scrutinised, including by queer theorists and particularly Sara Ahmed who proposes a concept of aliveness. This article explores what it means to put liveability into conversation with critical engagements with happiness. Using transnational empirical material regarding what makes lives liveable for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people in India and the UK, we argue that this dialogue not only expands upon the existing critiques of happiness, but also rethinks liveability as a form of struggle between ‘living’ and ‘surviving’. Challenge and struggle can be central to feeling alive. This emerges most prominently when LGBTQ people feel part of a collective struggle, or when they feel others are supporting them in their individual struggle. Delinking a normative understanding of happiness from liveability brings us closer to everyday struggles as a way to chart out paths through hegemonic orders and normativities. A good life can have ‘flowers and sunshine’ but it is not necessarily, or always, happy.
- United Kingdom