chapter  4
31 Pages

Seen to be believed: some problems in the representation of gay people as typical

A major fact about being gay is that it doesn’t show. There is nothing about gay people’s physiognomy that declares them gay, no equivalents to the biological markers of sex and race. There are signs of gayness, a repertoire of gestures, expressions, stances, clothing, and even environments (see figure 4.1) that bespeak gayness, but these are cultural forms designed to show what the person’s person alone does not show: that he or she is gay. Such a repertoire of signs, making visible the invisible, is the basis of any representation of gay people involving visual recognition, the requirement of recognizability in turn entailing that of typicality. Though not indispensable, typification is a near necessity for the representation of gayness, the product of social, political, practical and textual determinations.