To emphasize this function is not to suggest that lesbian and gay identity accounts do nothing else. Personal narratives (of all sorts, not only sexual ones) are central to how we construct our most basic sense of self. The belief that one is who one is supposed to be may be an abdication of personal responsibility ("bad faith;' in existentialist terms), but it is a very comforting one. Many respondents mentioned to me, entirely in passing, that some non-sexual features of their lives were preordained. "I was always a feminist;' more than a few claimed; one said, "I always knew I'd be an architect" -in terms that vividly paralleled their claims of an innate homosexuality. 1 Individuals who understand the self as contingent can experience that as a source of pain, such as Diane Rivera expresses here:
I tried to even make a story. I was like, "Well, what do I have to talk about?" There's no story that equals "lesbian:· And I was waiting for it to, like, shine in front of my eyes. I've picked the brains of those
Ihaveleftunexploredmostofthewaysthatindividualsusenarrativetocreate acontinuousself,inordertofocusonthepoliticalfunctionsofaccounts.Buta remindermaybeinorderthatpoliticaldiscourseisnottheonlyprocessthat shapeslesbians'andgaymen'sidentityaccounts;personalnarrativesholdexistentialdreadatbay.