Constructing lesbian identity through community practice

Journal article

Jones, Lucy (2014) “Dolls or teddies?” Constructing lesbian identity through community-specific practice.  Journal of Language and Sexuality 3(2): 161-90

Manuscript available here.

The concept of ‘community’ often presents a problem for queer linguists. ‘The gay community’ is often viewed as an impossible site for research due to its imagined status, whilst local communities of gay people are considered to be too heterogeneous and idiosyncratic to draw conclusions from. In this article, however, it is argued that both of these aspects of community can, and should, be a central focus of any investigation into language and sexual identity. Through the analysis of a conversation emerging from a lesbian group, using a sociocultural linguistics framework, it is argued here that the community of practice approach can play a crucial role in understanding how ideologies from ‘the gay community’ are used to construct a coherent sexual identity on a local level. The analysis reveals how the group engage in practices which enable them to construct micro-level identities in direct response to broader ideological structures of heteronormativity.

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