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Queerying notions of “difference” among two generations of Australians who do not identify heteronormatively
journal contributionposted on 2020-02-01, 00:00 authored by A Persson, C E Newman, M L Rasmussen, Daniel MarshallDaniel Marshall, R Cover, P Aggleton
Non-normative genders and sexualities are often framed in research and popular discourse in terms of difference. This descriptor not only signals their departure from social norms, it also promotes the assumption that people who do not identify with traditional binary categories perceive themselves as different, and that their gender or sexuality is the core reason for this. This notion of difference seems particularly ripe for interrogation at a time when traditional categories of gender and sexuality are being disrupted by a burgeoning catalogue of non-binary and hyper-specific identity labels among young people on social network sites and elsewhere. What are we to make of difference in this emergent landscape? We explore this question, drawing on findings from a recent qualitative study of two social generations of Australians who do not identify heteronormatively. Our analysis suggests that the notion of sexuality and gender difference as a coherent basis for identity was far from straightforward in either generation, even though difference figured in notably divergent ways in the two groups. We consider what these tensions around difference might mean for the contemporary politics of gender and sexual identity categories.