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Covering’s Other Hidden Assault

  • Cyril Ghosh
Chapter

Abstract

In this chapter, I engage with the concept of gay “covering”—as theorized by Kenji Yoshino. Gay covering refers to actions of gay and lesbian individuals to “disattend,” or tone down, their (despised) sexuality in an effort to fit into and be accepted by the mainstream. In Yoshino’s telling, this is the newest iteration of a set of societal (and even legal) injunctions imposed on gays and lesbians, following a sequence, in the beginning, to convert, then, to pass, and finally, to cover. I argue here that while Yoshino’s analysis offers several critical insights it nonetheless elides any critical engagement with the question of agency on the part of the subject of covering. Consequently, he misunderstands the plural motivations that may lead an individual to cover. Yoshino also misreads some forms of conduct as if they encode acts of covering when in fact the individuals performing those acts are potentially merely “being themselves.” Thus, Yoshino’s critique ends up being just as oppressive as the oppression it is mobilized to dismantle in that it is an injunction to reverse cover. Consequently, it can harm, rather than help, LGBT+ persons and curtail, rather than enhance, their freedoms.

Keywords

“acting straight” “acting white” Civil rights Covering Stigma 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wagner CollegeStaten IslandUSA

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