Debuting into the Scene: Women Narrating Queer Time and Space

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 24 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Claire MAREE, University of Melbourne, Australia
The mid-nineties also saw writers and activists use the phrase gyōkai debyū in Japanese queer community magazines. Gyōkai literal means ‘industry’ and is used to refer to the ‘scene’. Debyū originates in the English ‘to debut’ and refers to the first time one goes to a lesbian/gay/queer event as a self-identified lesbian woman, gay man and bisexual woman/man. Used in articles, manga and personal histories in the emerging 1990s lesbian and bisexual women’s press, gyōkai debyū and its abbreviated form debyū (debut) is a key term in lesbian negotiation of coercive heterosexism in the Japanese context. While “gyōkai debyū” refers to entering the queer community as a self-identified queer, publications in Japanese also contain sections that reflect on instances of “coming out” to friends and families. Through an analysis of manga and coming out stories published 1990-201, I argue that although ‘debut’ narratives and ‘coming out’ narratives recount very different experiences, they are both stories of moving into ‘unknown time’. In the case of ‘debuting’, the unknown is narrated as being already that which is familiar. In the case of ‘coming out’, the narrating and sharing) of unknown time allows for a recovery of the familiar. These moments are linked to memories that jar significantly with normative lifetime trajectories, while at the same time, the telling of these memories as “unknown time” enables the narrators to be reformed into the normative discourses of family time.