The Gay and Lesbian Community in the North-West of England
Chapter 2 Identity
Any study of gay and lesbian community, whether defined in specific, closely-drawn terms, or primarily discursive or a ‘necessary fiction’, begins with individuals and their personal experiences and understanding – their stories. As Plummer has noted, the stories told by gay men and lesbians are fundamentally connected with both the creation of a public identity and with the furtherance of their rights on the political and social planes. Plummer refers to the ongoing project of storytelling as linked to ‘being, identity and community’ (1995, p. 146), as intimate citizenship where: an array of new personal narratives that may be told about the intimate are emerging, stories which suggest new living arrangements, new families, new ways of thinking about feelings, bodies, representations and identities, and new modes of the erotic. Plummer noted the likely conflicts between some of these emerging narratives and their claims to citizenship, recognition and equality and other narratives which may be equally keen to prevent citizenship entering these traditionally ‘private’ areas. The aim of this work will be to further consider the communitarian option as a possible channel for the incorporation of this expanded citizenship, and to ask whether ‘gay and lesbian community’ is a valid and useful concept in this context. 18 Personal and collective psychohistories These narratives, though, begin with the personal. Community is realised and understood by the gathering together of these individual stories so that the shared experience can be recognised as both collective and individual as different accounts of gay or lesbian living...
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