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Complicated identities

Kim K's picture

Last week in class we discussed the article "Living the Good Lie" about homosexual men living outwardly as straight men, with wives and children. One of the driving forces behind their decisions to do this was that while they recognized their inward identity as being gay, their greater identity emphasis was on being religious. These men were willing to compromise their homosexual identity in favor of their (stronger) religious identity.

In Eli Clare's book Exile and Pride, Clare discusses the compromise of identity in order to "fit in" and belong in queer communities. He says that compromising his rural upbringing to be comfortable being queer in a big city has left him "feeling queer in the queer community" (42). Clare states, "Occasionally I simply feel as if I've traded one displacement for another and lost home to boot" (46). I think an overlapping idea in this and many of the texts we've read so far is about  finding one's "true" identity (if such a thing exists). The idea that Clare must betray part or all of his rural identity (in favor of being out, and safe in a queer accepting community) or trade part or all of his queer identity (in favor of living in a town where he fits in socially and economically) is no different than the gay men who live outwardly straight lives in order to maintain their acceptance in their religious community. It is also an interesting way to view the struggles that a transgender, or genderqueer person faces in dealing with conflicting inward and outward gender identities. In this way, Clare and others who identify as transgender or genderqueer have had to compromise part of their personal identity in order to release what they feel as their stronger, more dominant gender identity.