One of the biggest stories this week was about the fact that PayPal founder Peter Thiel has been secretly funding the lawsuit brought by Hulk Hogan against the website Gawker. Thiel’s complaint is that Gawker ‘outed’ him as homosexual in 2007 (outed being in quotes because Thiel was open about his sexuality within Silicon Valley, although he was allegedly trying to prevent some investors and socially conservative acquaintances from learning about it). Though this story has numerous free speech, public interest, and economic issues associated with it (including the role of dark money in the legal system), the role of ‘outing’ in our society has been overlooked in all the media coverage. The questions of how sexuality is presented in our culture; how sexuality relates to other issues our society faces; and how outing affects the psychological, physical, and sociological well-being of people within society, are also important. Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble is of course a cornerstone in the study of sexuality, but here are some other interesting works about sexuality and the practice of outing:
- Ilan Meyer, “Prejudice, social stress and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence“, published in 2003 in Psychology Bulletin. Meyer applies a “minority stress” model to LGBT populations to understand how the mental health of these populations is affected by their environment.
- Kimberly Crenshaw, On Intersectionality:Essential Writings of Kimberly Crenshaw. Crenshaw was one of the first people to look at how different biases overlap to produce unique experiences of society. Her work has helped activists build movements that bring resistance to sexual oppression together with resistance to racial and gender oppression.
- This Bridge Called My Back, edited by
“Outing as Performance/Outing as Resistance: A Queer Reading of Austrian (Homo)Sexualities,” published by Matti Bunzl in Cultural Anthropology in 1997; and “The ‘Outing’ of Walter Pater,” published by William F. Shuter in Nineteenth-Century Literature in 1994. Two articles about the role of outing in society.
What are you reading?