Edited By sj Miller and Nelson M. Rodriguez
Chapter Ten: Sanctioning Unsanctioned Texts: The True Story of a Gay Writer
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Sanctioning Unsanctioned Texts: The True Story of a Gay Writer
In the TV show Transparent (Soloway, 2014), Jeffery Tambor plays Mort, a retired professor and father of three adult children who, late in life, begins to transition to a woman, Maura. We see flashbacks of Mort in the 1980s, searching a magazine rack at a bohemian bookstore for answers about his predicament (being constructed as a man). Mort is forced to seek answers outside the sanctioned literacies of the university setting. Inside a seedy bookstore, he finds information about his identity in “tawdry” magazines.
Like Mort, queer students understand the shortcomings of the “autonomous” approach to literacy (Street, 2003) found in schools, and on their own time, they turn to documentaries, sitcoms, young adult novels, blogs, public health websites, chatrooms, and YouTube channels—to name a few—as a means to explore and affirm their queer identities. With characteristics of interactivity and fluidity, out-of-school literacies bear little resemblance to the “formally imposed/officially sanctioned sequenced curriculum which is founded on texts as information sources” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006, p. 6). Even so, queer youth could benefit from educators who could help to mediate texts and support students as they discover and try on identities.
When I was 13, I needed a teacher to show me possibilities for authoring a queer life. I needed a teacher to say, “This is a queer...
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