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Identity Management and Community Belonging: The Coming Out Careers of Young Disabled LGBT+ Persons

17 April 2020

Publication date
03 April 2020

Original abstract
Coming out is best viewed in terms of a career with no discernible endpoint. Popular discourse and stage-based models which emphasise a linear phased approach tend not to accurately represent contemporary coming out experiences. Using data from interviews, focus groups and interactive workshops, this article explores the perceptions and strategies towards coming out by young disabled LGBT+ people. I suggest that viewing coming out careers as an identity management technique helps to shed light upon the relationship between intersecting identities and helps to examine the negotiations taking place, whilst teasing out how such identities impact and inform one another against the backdrop of misunderstanding. The stories of the participants also show that the framing of coming out as an imperative to living honestly and authentically was not a common experience. However, coming out to feel a sense of belonging within communities remains central to the perceived benefits. Coming out for the participants reveals tensions between their identities based on ableism and heteronormativity that led them to reconsider the viability and benefits of coming out. However, the participants revealed a challenging two-way relationship between the LGBT+ community and them as disabled people.


Toft, A. (2020). Identity Management and Community Belonging: The Coming Out Careers of Young Disabled LGBT+ Persons. Sexuality & Culture. DOI: 10.1007/s12119-020-09726-4

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sexuality, disability, identity, coming out, community


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