Coming out of the Coming Out Story: Writing Queer Lives

Jolly, Margaretta (2001) Coming out of the Coming Out Story: Writing Queer Lives. Sexualities, 4 (4). pp. 475-497. ISSN 13634607

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This article examines the challenges posed to the western lesbian and gay life writing paradigm of the coming out story by postmodern and global cultures. It reads two memoirs published in the 1990s that queer the coming out plot, one of an American lesbian-turned-heterosexual, the other of a Chinese woman describing her relationships with women and men during the Cultural Revolution. Jan Clausen's Apples and Oranges: My Journey Through Sexual Identity and Anchee Min's Red Azalea each reject coming out and its essentialist model of sexual identity, showing too its Western specificity. However, they equally avoid a fully deconstructive version of queer, Clausen in elegising her past lesbian self, Min in poeticising sexuality as the wellspring of individuation and anti-totalitarian resistance. While queers unravelling of homogenous models of sexual narrative has been liberating, it cannot yet rival the power of traditional modernist sexual stories, whether in creating community in the fragmented West, or individual rights in totalitarian societies such as China of the late 1960s-early 1970s.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Centre for Community Engagement
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research
Depositing User: Margaretta Jolly
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:30
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2018 15:55
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