- 2,49 €
This research examines how women who experience a change to a partner of a different gender, use categories of gender, sexual identity, and sexual orientation to make sense of this shift both to themselves and to others. Specifically, the study draws on interviews conducted with self-identified lesbian, bisexual and queer women who have moved from relationships with female partners to relationships with male partners. Examining the stories people tell about their sexual selves provides not only an understanding of individuals’ sense of who they are, but also the ways in which a given culture organizes sexuality. In examining how women use and negotiate sexual identity categories, this research contributes to scholarship concerned with the ways in which sexual identity categories are shaped and become powerful forces in shaping people’s lives. Far from considering sexuality a dichotomous system of classification, with exclusive categories such as heterosexual and homosexual, recent scholarship has emphasized how individuals navigate sexual identity categories and engage in behavior that defy simple and dichotomous classification schemes. Despite this shift towards a more fluid understanding of identity, sexuality scholars have for the most part neglected to examine movement between or across sexual identity categories. This is so especially true regarding individuals who transition from marked to unmarked identity categories. After having lived most of their lives within a “marked” category (lesbian, queer, bisexual) the women interviewed for this study suddenly found themselves in an “unmarked” category (straight or heterosexual) once they entered into relationships with men. Far from experiencing this transition as a relief, as might be expected, the invisibility associated with being unmarked was neither expected nor welcome. In fact, it brought a sense of discomfort. Many tried to renegotiate a marked identity for themselves: one that was different from their previous lesbian identity. The stories of lesbians who begin relationships with men therefore inform us about how individuals navigate issues of belonging and the embodiment of desire, and how they connect identity and community. In short, their narratives of change to a partner of a different gender are a powerful way of “doing” their non-straight identities.