A Queer analysis of the discursive construction of gay identity in Gayle: the language of kinks and queens: a history and dictionary of gay language in South Africa (2003)
AbstractIn 2003 the book Gayle: the language of kinks and queens: a history and dictionary of gay language in South Africa was published, documenting more than 1400 lexical items used by South African gays and lesbians. Given that the field of gay language is an established discipline within sociolinguistic research elsewhere in the world, and that there has been very little research on the connection between language and homosexuality in the South African context, the publication of such a book is potentially an important contribution to this field. However, such potential depends on where one stands in relation to the critique of the field of gay language by theorists such as Deborah Cameron and Don Kulick who argue that gay language research is attached to essentialist notions of gay identity. I take up this critical position in this article arguing that the gay language presented in Gayle is not a South African gay language at all, as it too is based on the notion of an essentialised gay identity. Furthermore, this article argues that Gayle in constructing an essentialised gay identity deligitimates other sexual identity positions that do not conform to this.
Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2009, 27(2): 149–161