McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Clothing, Embodiment, Gay Men, GLBTQ, Identity, Style, Queer
How one dresses comprises their personal style, which subsequently informs one’s orientation to the world. Clothing is a global practice that demarcates our experience of self, others, and the world; and—as we are swathed in clothing since birth—those experiences are primarily split among gendered lines. Using Merleau-Ponty (2014/1945), I reconceptualize how clothing can be understood as inseparable from our body, and I use Deleuze and Guattari (1987/1980) to illustrate how clothing augments our embodied experience to produce a process of identification with our style. I also draw from queer theorists (Ahmed, 2006; Halberstam, 2011) to illustrate how we can disrupt and redefine normal productions of gender to adopt a genderfluid style, situated between masculine and feminine. In this dissertation, I adopt a qualitative methodology to extrapolate the ways in which a genderqueer style can offer the freedom to select from a multitude of gender presentations that offer more freedom and restructure our experience of self, others, and the world. I recruited three participants who identify as out-homosexual men that dress in a genderqueer fashion. I instructed them to keep a two-week journal with photographs and interactions that were influenced by how they dressed, and I followed up with a semi-structured interview (that was transcribed verbatim) about their experiences. The journals and interviews were analyzed using a modified interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) outlined by Smith and Osborn (2008) with a queer focus to look at how clothing practices structure participants’ sense of embodiment, relationships, identity, and the world. Three to five themes emerged from the data provided by each participant with the conclusion that their style of dress becomes an aesthetic project to create a genderqueer identity. Their identity (as a creative act or art form) was informed by convergent themes of (1) struggles and fears of adopting a genderqueer style, (2) new locations and relationships, and (3) feelings of liberation form gender bifurcation. Individual divergent themes among the participants that affected the data included cultural conceptions of masculinity, transgender identity, and body type.
Arroyo, J. (2018). Back in the Closet: A Queer-Modified Interpretive-Phenomenological Analysis of Gay Men Creating an Identity Through Clothing (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1465