"Authentically" Effeminate? Bialystok's Theorization of Authenticity, Gay Male Femmephobia, and Personal Identity
Authenticity is a commonly heralded ideal in Western modernist discourses, with a large amount of literature describing individuals’ personal journeys towards self-fulfillment (Bialystok, 2009, 2013, 2015, 2017; Taylor, 1991; Varga, 2014). This paper examines Lauren Bialystok’s (2013) conception of authenticity in sex/gender identity and proposes that effeminate or ‘femme’ gay men make a strong case for fitting within such a conception of authenticity. Effeminate gay men experience significant in-group discrimination within gay men’s communities, with many gay men “defeminizing” (Taywaditep, 2002) themselves upon entering adulthood and mainstream gay communities. Through this exploration of Bialystok’s (2013) model for authenticity in sex/gender identity and the identity-based challenges effeminate or femme gay men experience, this paper describes why effeminate gay men fit Bialystok’s model, and the ethical dilemmas of theorizing authenticity in personal identity (Bialystok, 2009, 2011). Providing supportive and positive early environments in school while specifically addressing gender-based discrimination in childhood provides more opportunities for positive identity development and the potential of fulfilling self-authenticity within gender identity for femme gay men.
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