Last updated: June 6, 2003

Narrative Psychology Search


[Narrative Psychology]

 Topics in Narrative Psychology

  Gay and Lesbian Identity

          Background  ||  Internet  ||  Bibliographical  ||  Theorists

Background Issues

This page deals with narrative as it relates to the contemporary and historical construction of gay and lesbian identity and the history of the gay and lebian communities in the United States and elsewhere. Also included here would be materials from "queer theory" as they apply to issues of identity. Note that there are several general emphases here. These include (1) a focus upon recent historical studies which tend to illustrate the social construction or, at least, social contextual development of homosexual identities and (2) life stories, autobiographies, and memoirs.

Theorists*Key Figures

Internet Resouces

The Pink Practice [UK]: Systematic and social constructionist counseling and psychotherapy to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.

Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Issues: Selected Bibliography [Daniel Barnett, Ph.D.] Clinician and counselor, Dr. Barnett offers annotated materials on general issues, Health/AIDS, relationships, sexual abuse, sexual compulsivity, and spiritual concerns. A number of personal memoirs are included in the bibliography. Updated May, 1998.

People with a History [Paul Halsall] The monumental G/L/B/T historical online resource

James T. Sears Home Page [Univ. S. Carolina] Educator and historian of gay/lesbian experience through a Southern lens. Author of Lonely hunters: An oral history of lesbian and gay southern life, 1948-1968 (see below)

ONE Institute: International Gay and Lesbian Archives [USC]

[Icon]  Outright Radio (Dave Gilmore; Public Radio International). Tells the stories of gays and lesbians in archived audio documentaries and programs. Since 2001.

   [Documentary Resources]

[Icon] Acting Up (Sound Portraits; David Isay, Producer). Originally broadcast 6/15/01 on NPR All Things Considered, this program tells the story of John Weir and two other AIDS protesters who interrupted Dan Rather's CBS Evening News broadcast in 1991 and went on to fight for resources for AIDS patients.  Link

[Icon] Eighty-One Words (The American Project; Alix Spiegel, Producer). Originally broadcast 1/18/02 on This American Life, "Eighty-One Words" is the "story of how the American Psychiatric Association decided, in 1973, that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness." (site blurb).  RealAudio

[Icon] Remembering Stonewall (Sound Portraits; David Isay, Producer). Originally broadcast 1989. Link.

[Icon] Ruth Ellis (NPR Morning Edition; Neenah Ellis, Producer) A Black lesbian who lived to be over 100 recounts her life as part of the One Hundred Years of Stories series, first broadcast in May, 2000. Link (alternate RealAudio link)

Personal Writings. Even a cursory review of the net will soon reveal the extraordinary number of individual stories which gay and lesbian cyberauthors have crafted and posted online in order to share their lives with others. Teens, older people, the middle aged -- every group has used the net as a forum for memoir and autobiography, diaries and weblogs. However, stable sites which maintain such stories on line indefinitely -- these are considerably harder to find. Listed here will be a handful of sites which may prove of interest to the issue of narrative and gay or lesbian identity.

[Icon]  GLBT Weblogs & Journals (
[Icon]  Gay Diary Webring (RingSurf)
PFlag Phoenix: Personal Stories

Matthew Shepard



Bibliographical Resources

Anzaldua, G. (1987). Borderlands/La Frontera: The new Mestiza. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books.

Chicana lesbian poet, Gloria Anzaldua, explores the question of identity within the conflicting demands of the many cultural communities to which she belongs. Though the focus of the prose and poetry here lies primarily on the exchange between Anglo and Chicano issues -- and the language of the book moves freely into (often contextually understandable) Spanish -- her lesbian identity weaves in and out of the text.

Berubé, A. (1990). Coming out under fire: The history of gay men and women in World War II. New York: Free Press.

Chauncey, G. (1994). Gay New York: Gender, urban culture, and the making of the gay male world, 1890-1940. New York: Basic Books.

The critically-acclaimed pioneer history of pre-World War II gay urban culture, this volume provides an ethnographic overview of the world of "fairies" and "queers" and challenges many prevailing stereotypes, particularly that gay men were isolated, invisible, and had internalized negative self-identities in the pre-Stonewall era. Relying upon extensive oral history interviews, diaries and letters, and widely scattered official documents, Chauncey provides a vivid portrait of the social landscape of gay Gotham. His 85 pages of detailed endnotes and six pages regarding sources and method provide a highly valuable set of resources for further study and describe what is the "state of the art" in gay historiography in the mid-1990s.

Curtis, W. (Ed.). (1988). Revelations: A collection of gay male coming out stories. Boston, MA: Alyson.

D'Emilio, J. (1998). Sexual politics, sexual communities: The making of a homosexual minority in the United States 1940-1970 (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

A seminal work, first published in 1983, which charted the emergence of a distinctive homosexual voice in the World War II and post-War decades before Stonewall. Based on the author's Columbia University dissertation. The second edition now has a new preface and afterward to reflect upon the 15 years since the book's original publication.

D'Emilio, J., & Freeman, E. (1997). Intimate matters: A history of sexuality in America (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

The comprehensive history of sexuality in the United States. Essential. The second edition of this pathbreaking volume, originally published in 1988, has been updated by the inclusion of a new chapter to examine national changes and new historiography experienced or written during the late 80's and 90's.

Duberman, M., Vicinus, M., & Chauncey, G. (Eds.). (1989). Hidden from history: Reclaiming the gay and lesbian past. New York: New American Library.

Faderman, L. (1991). Odd girls and twilight lovers: A history of lesbian life in twentieth-century America. New York: Columbia University Press.

Greenberg, D. F. (1988). The construction of homosexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Katz, J. N. (1995). The invention of heterosexuality. New York: Dutton.

Examines the notions of "homosexuality" and "heterosexuality" across the last century and concludes with a socially constructed rather than essentialist explanation for both, i.e., these categories can be understood only in relationship to each other and are grounded in the historical and cultural circumstances of the past, e.g, the influence of Freudian theorizing and popularizing.

Katz, J. N. (1992). Gay American history: Lesbians and gay men in the U.S.A. A documentary history (Rev.ed.). New York: Plume. [HQ76.3.U5 K37 1992]

Revision of Jonathan Ned Katz's pioneering 1976 study of gay life in the USA through the medium of historical documentary evidence.

Kennedy, E., & Davis, M. (1993). Boots of leather, slippers of gold: The history of a lesbian community. New York: Routledge.

Loughery, J. (1998). The other side of silence. Men's lives and gay identities: A twentiety-century history. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

A very well-received popular narrative history of homosexuality in the United States by the arts critic of the Hudson Review, John Loughery. Across twnety-five chapters, Loughery relies upon both published historical research and his own personal interviews with several hundred individuals both to chart the stream of gay life since the end of World War I and to portray important gay figures in varying domains of American life.

Minton, H. L., & Mattson, S. R. (1998). Deconstructing heterosexuality: Life stories from gay New York, 1931-1941. Journal of Homosexuality, 36, 43-61.

Plummer, K. (1995). Telling sexual stories: Power, change, and social worlds. New York: Routledge.

From a sociological background, Plummer explores what he calls "the culture of sexual story telling" and examines, in particular, "coming out" stories of women, gays, lesbians, and individuals "in recovery." He concludes his analyses by reflections upon what he terms "intimate citizenship," a concept embracing a politics concerned with "our most intimate desires, pleasures, and ways of being in the world" (p. 151). The author, a Reader in Sociology, at Essex University provides extensive chapter notes (pp. 181-216) and voluminous bibliographical listings (pp. 217-239).

Rist, D. Y. (1992). Heartlands: A gay man's odyssey across America. New York: Dutton.

Darrell Yates Rist provides a haunting travel narrative as he describes his encounters and conversations with gay men and women across the Unites States. He has listened particularly well to the personal stories of gays in rural America settings far from the metropolitan sanctuaries of San Francisco and New York.

Roof, J. (1996). Come as you are: Sexuality and narrative. New York: Columbia University Press.

"Roof's book links narrative theory, theories of sexuality, and gay and lesbian theory to explore the place of homosexuality, and specifically the lesbian, in the tradition of Western narrative." (Publisher's blurb) Winner, Perkins Prize, Society for the Study of Narrative Literature.

Sears, J. T. (1997). Lonely hunters: An oral history of lesbian and gay southern life, 1948-1968. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.[HQ75.6.U52 S687 1997] (excerpts available online)

"Largely ignored by both mainstream and gay histories, this is the first oral history of homosexual Southerners struggling against homophobia, racial hatred, and sexism against the panorama of post-World War II Southern culture. James Sears has compiled real stories of gay men and lesbians who were raised in the social hierarchy of the South." synopsis

Sedgwick, E. K. (1990). Epistemology of the closet. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Shallenberger, D. (1996). Professional and openly gay: A narrative study of the experience. In John Billsberry et al. (Eds.), The effective manager: Perspectives and illustrations (pp. 305-326). London: Sage Publications, Inc.

Weiss, R. S., & Richards, T. A. (1997). A scale for predicting quality of recovery following the death of a partner. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 72, 885-891.


Go to Top of page

When citing this document, you may wish to consider this form for the reference (derived from APA Style [5th ed.])

Hevern, V. W. (2003, June). Gay and lesbian identity. Narrative psychology: Internet and resource guide. Retrieved [enter date] from the Le Moyne College Web site:

     Narrative Psychology: Internet and Resource Guide
is copyright © 1996-2003 by Vincent W. Hevern, SJ, all rights reserved.

No portion of this guide may be reproduced or used for commercial or other purposes without the express written consent of the author.