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Remapping disclosure: gay men's segmented journeys of moving out and coming out

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Drawing on recent work that examines the contingent, personal nature of queer migration, this paper provides empirical support for recent claims that coming-out journeys are more complex than the linear, often rural-to-urban typologies that have framed them during the past two decades. Since coming-out journeys are rarely elaborated beyond a conceptual level, overly teleological understandings involving homophobic, rural places, inclusive urban homelands, and one-time, linear ‘flights’ and ‘escapes’ persist. Employing the migration narratives of 48 self-identified gay men who settled in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and Washington, DC, USA, this paper challenges the linearity and finality of coming-out migration by highlighting particular segments of the journey. These include short-term trips to scout the gay life potentials of places, migrations that result in a degree of re-entry into ‘the closet,’ relocations that allow men to test or try on different places and identities, and moves (or imminent moves) that ‘trigger’—rather than stem from—a coming-out process. Taken together, these segments suggest that coming-out journeys are ongoing, relational, and often discontinuous journeys influenced by both queer individuals' intersectional subjectivities (e.g., age, race, and class) and the social contexts of the places they encounter.

Keywords: Canada; Canadá; Estados Unidos; Etats-Unis; USA; coming out; coming-out / outing; gay; gay / homosexuel; migración; migration; salirse del closet; sexualidad; sexuality; sexualité

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Gender and Health Promotion Studies Unit,School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University, Halifax,B3H 4R2, Canada

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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