07 January 2017

Names and Identity Acquisition

Samuel R Delany's 'Coming/Out' in his writes Shorter Views: Queer Thoughts and the Politics of the Paraliterary (Wesleyan University Press, 1999) comments
In the twenty-seven years since the 1969 Stonewall riots, "coming out" has acquired extraordinary significance in the gay community—so much significance that many of us might even say coming out "defines" the difference between being gay and an older, pre-gay notion of being homosexual. Through much of that quarter-century-plus, when, if you hadn't "come out of the closet," many gay men and lesbians felt you had somehow betrayed them, that you couldn't really "define yourself as gay," that you had not "accepted your gay identity," I found myself faced with a paradox: Much of my critical enterprise over that same period had been devoted to showing that such "defining" or "identifying" events (when, as a reader, you first became aware of science fiction; when, as a child, you realized you were black, gay, or an artist) simply did not "define" anything. 
In the gradual, continual, and constantly modulating process of be¬ coming who we are, all events take their meanings, characteristic or un¬ characteristic, from the surrounding event field in which they occur. While certainly they contribute to what we are or are becoming, single events simply do not carry the explicative strength "definition" and "identity" denote. This is not to say some events aren't more important than others. ... 
It's a philosophical paradox: 
Differences are what create individuals. Identities are what create groups and categories. Identities are thus conditions of comparative sim­ plicity that complex individuals might move toward, but (fortunately) never achieve — until society, tired of the complexity of so much individ­ ual difference, finally, one way or the other, imposes an identity on us. 
Identities are thus, by their nature, reductive. (You do not need an identity to become yourself; you need an identity to become like someone else.) Without identities, yes, language would be impossible (because categories would not be possible, and language requires categories). Still, in terms of subjects, identity remains a highly problematic sort of reduction and cultural imposition
'Social Rites of Marriage' by Suzanne Kim and Katherine Thurman in (2016) 17 Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law 745 comments
The legal consequences for same-sex couples who have married — and for couples who will do so after the historic Obergefell v Hodges decision — are numerous and profound. As legal rhetoric and scholarly research on marriage suggest, however, the social dimension of marriage — apart from its concrete legal benefits — is deeply significant. Despite what we understand about the law’s impact on people’s lives and people’s influence on legal institutions, scholars know surprisingly little about the ways in which same-sex couples socially experience legal marriage. This is all the more pressing, since marriage equality is now a reality in all US states. 
This analysis, part of an exploratory study that examines the intersection of law and the social domain in the context of same-sex marriage, begins to fill a critical gap in socio-legal literatures on marriage and formal recognition of same-sex relationships. We discuss here early themes emerging in this research, based on qualitative interviews and surveys with married same-sex couples, part of a project that provides one of the first scholarly overviews post-Obergefell of negotiation of gender norms in same-sex marriage in daily life. 
Modes of self-presentation (like relationship terms and last name practices), which comprise the focus of this paper, provide a window onto the interplay of legal status, social norms, concepts of tradition, and gender. They also reveal a diverse picture of transitions to formal legal recognition in the context of longstanding, and continued, discrimination against LGBTQ communities. We situate early findings in relation to deeper questions about relationships between marriage, hierarchy, and gender, as well as about intersections of legal and social recognition.