chapter  5
12 Pages

Difference and Dominance: Gendered Identity Accounts

As previous chapters have demonstrated, the distinction between the "determined" and "mixed" accounts is largely a matter of degree; it is certainly not as ideologically loaded as the distinction between then and the "chosen" account. For the purposes of the present chapter, then, I will seldom refer separately to the "determined" account, but will include the elements shared by it and the "mixed" account in the term "dominant account:' That dominant account of gay identity achieves a unity of the homosexual across genders the way the term "gay" does, by centering gay male, and marginalizing lesbian, experience. Lesbians, compared to gay men, are less inclined to believe they were born gay, are more likely to have various forms of heterosexual experience and/or identity over the course of their lives, and are more apt to claim that their sexual preference is chosen. Given what accounts do, which is to connect the individual with the collective as part of a political strategy, why are lesbians more likely than gay men to use a "chosen" account?1 Because lesbians struggle with both sexism and heterosexism, lesbian identity accounts must serve complex and competing purposes.