Kathryn Schulz: What Happened to the Coming-Out Memoir?

4.2.2012

By Evan Lambert

A writer links the present lack of coming-out memoirs to recent advances in LGBT civil rights.

As two prominent lesbian writers—Alison Bechdel and Jeanette Winterson—prepare to drop new memoirs this spring, New York writer Kathryn Schulz wonders why coming-out memoirs have stopped... coming out.

In a short piece which went up on the Vulture blog earlier today, Schulz recalls reading memoirs like Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit as a young woman and being moved by the idea of LGBT people sharing their queer experiences with the world. Now that she's older, however, she realizes how long it's been since she's read something specifically queer like that.

She comes up with several reasonable explanations for this drought, among them society's growing acceptance of LGBT culture. With gay story lines regularly popping up on primetime TV and high-profile celebrities regularly coming out, the act of coming out itself doesn't seem like such a revelatory event anymore:

"The coming-out story might be to the late twentieth century what the marriage plot was to Victorian times: a story line made relevant by social conventions, often repressive ones—and then, as those conventions eroded, made irrelevant again."

For more, click over to Vulture.

Photo: Elena Seibert

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