Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 3, No 1 (2009)

Coming-out stories and the 'gay imaginary'

Andrew Wong
Issued Date: 6 Jul 2009

Abstract


Although research has shown that those struggling with their same-sex desire often rely on print materials to help them understand their sexuality, the language use in these resources has rarely been studied. Exploring the relationship among genre, social change and socialization, this article examines coming-out narratives published in print and electronic media. It argues that these narratives are more like public testimonies than personal stories. Through metanarration, the COMING OUT AS A JOURNEY metaphor and the grammatical structuring of events, writers recount their own experiences to illustrate messages regarding the processual nature of coming out, the transformation of the self through coming out, and the transformation of relationships with others through coming out. The stories which convey these messages serve as an instrument of social change, in that they give those in the closet a language to talk about their experience and socialize them into the gay imaginary.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v3.i1.1

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