Qualitative research embraced a reflexive turn in the 1970s and 1980s and since that time has been particularly useful for exploring the experiences of nonnormative individuals. This chapter explores the ethical value of “queer literacy,” which allows readers intending on undertaking work with LGBT+ groups to have a nuanced understanding of various nonheterosexual and noncisgender identifications. There is the potential for there to be anxiety around contemporary discussions of gender/sexuality often due to the variety of terms used, as well as concerns for sensitivity when engaging with intimate details of others’ experiences. The aim of queer literacy is to equip readers with the ability to form knowledge and to develop understanding in order to engage with queer experiences. This allows researchers of LGBT+ lives to discuss issues confidently, accurately, and critically.
The themes emerging from this discussion of queer literacy include identification, authenticity, representation, and visibility, all of which are important when engaging with nonnormative lives. For LGBT+ individuals, authenticity is often perceived as achievable through self-representation and visibility: “coming out.” Yet, in terms of ethics, visibility is problematized because of the real concern for possible prejudice-based attacks on participants. This chapter takes the heat out of such concerns by shedding light on how to engage effectively with LGBT+ groups. Finally, the chapter argues how queer literate ethical researchers of/with LGBT+ communities must adhere to Viviane Namaste’s three key principles of relevance, equity in partnership, and ownership when conducting ethical ethnographic research.
KeywordsEthics LGBT+ Queer literacy Nonnormative Visibility Representation
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