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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.
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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: 2012-05-01

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