Chapter

Coming out: from the closet to stepping stones

Rachel Thomson

in Unfolding lives

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9781847420510
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447304104 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847420510.003.0006
Coming out: from the closet to stepping stones

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This chapter concentrates on Devon, a white working-class city dweller whose late childhood is marked by family violence and homophobic bullying. Devon's interviews took place over a period of four years, when he was aged 18 to 21. They are also supported by his memory book. In describing and interpreting Devon's successive accounts, the chapter focuses on the process through which he becomes increasingly interested in the gay culture; the way he manages the boundaries between the gay and straight life; and the articulation of gender, sexual, class, and ethnic dimensions within his identity. Devon's case study is structured by the three fields of existence that are the most important in his evolving biography: family, work, and play. These three arenas characterise each of his interviews in different ways, family being the dominant theme of the first, work and the boundaries between work and other parts of life dominating the second, and play dominating the discussion in the third. Devon's case history draws attention to the different ways in which ‘disembedding’ and ‘re-embedding’ may take place. Although he was disembedded from the physical locality of his community of origin, Devon nevertheless continues to be embedded in a particular generational class culture, expressed in part through the camp practices of his gay peer group, his experiences of work, and his enduring connections with his family of origin.

Keywords: Devon; white working class; family violence; homophobic bullying; gay culture; straight life; articulation of gender; sexual dimension; class

Chapter.  10406 words. 

Subjects: Marriage and the Family

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