Shame and Disavowing Queer Reality

An Autotheoretical Analysis


  • Michelle Forrest Mount Saint Vincent University
  • Phillip Joy Mount Saint Vincent University



disavowal, shame, comics pedagogy, queer theory, codification, normkritik


Stigma has been defined as a spoiled identity, a branding that sets a person outside the norm, with potential to elicit feelings of shame. The authors recount firsthand experiences of having felt shame in connection with their queer identities and the disavowal this provoked, until such time as they met serendipitously as researchers with related interests and began sharing memories of being queer in a cis-heteronormative society. Two stories, illustrated in comic form and told in first-person narrative, are centrepieces for analysis in which the authors write against themselves, their past assumptions, and interpretations. Applying insights from queer and feminist decolonial theory, and from arts pedagogy, this autotheoretical analysis demonstrates that, despite the injurious nature of shame, revisiting and recodifying its roots can help one avow queer reality and come to terms with feelings of inadequacy induced by the politics of purity infecting many fledgling efforts at self-expression.    

Author Biographies

Michelle Forrest, Mount Saint Vincent University

Michelle Forrest (she/her) is Professor of Philosophy of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University. A trained singer and actor, who writes about feminist ethics of teaching, collaborative inquiry, and art and philosophy that challenge epistemic injustice, Michelle teaches philosophy of education, research literacy, open-mindedness, media literacy, and aesthetics in education. Recent collaborative monographs include Widening Scripts: Cultivating Feminist Care in Academic Labor (Assis et al, forthcoming) and Scripting Feminist Ethics in Teacher Education (Forrest, M. & Wheeldon, L., 2019).

Phillip Joy, Mount Saint Vincent University

Phillip Joy (he/him) is an Assistant Professor in the Applied Human Nutrition Department at Mount Saint Vincent University. He also does qualitative research that is often positioned within poststructural frameworks and uses arts-based methodologies, such as photovoice, cellphilming, and comics. His primary areas of research include LGBTQ+ nutrition; body image and health; community advocacy and social disruption; as well as pedagogy, curriculum, and training. He is a member of the queer community.



How to Cite

Forrest, M., & Joy, P. (2023). Shame and Disavowing Queer Reality : An Autotheoretical Analysis . Art/Research/International:/A/Transdisciplinary/Journal, 8(1), 69–99.