Gender, Work & Organisation

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Volume 22 Issue 3 (May 2015), Pages 197-307

Coming Out, But Into What? Problematizing Discursive Variations of Revealing the Gay Self in the Workplace (pages 292-306)

There is a substantial mainstream literature on coming out in organizations, which investigates the positive effects for gay people of being out at work, but very few contributions that challenge the discourse of coming out. Taking as its starting point Butler's famous question ‘So we are out of the closet but into what?’, this paper problematizes coming out discourses in the workplace. We report on a study in which ten men were invited to talk about their coming out in the workplace. There were three main ways through which our participants constituted themselves as gay men when they talked about coming out: by defining themselves as, and admitting to, being gay; by introducing themselves as being in a gay relationship; and by adopting legitimate subject positions such as the Other, the different one, or the normal gay. Through our analysis, discussions and conclusions, we show how participants position themselves within different discursive variations, thus revealing the multiplicity of ‘the gay self’ and highlighting how coming out repeats and supports normative systems.

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