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Coming out of the cabinet: Fashioning the closet with Sweden's most famous diplomat

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This article offers a critical analysis of the media discourse surrounding the Swedish diplomat Sverker strm's coming out as a gay man at the age of 87. Particular interest is devoted to his striking fashion choice of wearing a pair of oddly coloured socks, which highlighted his contradictory masculinity as well as the many inherent paradoxes of the closet. strm's red and green socks functioned as a means to express forbidden desires, to oppose normative expectations in a playful way and to grant the gay subject a presence in a world that is still very much structured by the logics of the closet. Moreover, his contradictory body language, coupled with his repeated affirmations that his coming out was a private issue, revealed a divided masculinity that was ideologically dependent on a pre-feminist understanding of gender and sexuality as private, that is to say non-political. The article argues that there was strong evidence to suggest that his coming out was in fact a tactical move in a political game, a move aimed to denounce and ridicule the Swedish Security Police (SPO), who, after decades of surveillance, refused to grant the diplomat access to its classified files on him.

Keywords: Sverker strm; Swedish sexual politics; cold war masculinity; fashion and homosexuality; the closet

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Stockholm University.

Publication date: 2010-12-01

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