Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Thesis (UNI Access Only)


Coming out (Sexual orientation)--Psychological aspects; Narrative inquiry (Research method);


Within the LGBTQ community, the act of "coming out" has a rich social and political history. Given that participation in the act of coming out is considered valuable and perhaps necessary for LGBTQ individuals to both find themselves and find community, examining the narratives constructed from this experience is essential. Further, examining how the teller of a coming out narrative conceives of his or her own power in this retrospective sense-making process can give us access to where agency lies in coming out narratives. Using a qualitative methodology, I recruited and interviewed twelve participants, all of whom identified as LGBQ. Interviews consisted of two parts: soliciting their coming out narratives and reflections on their narratives. I conducted separate theme analyses on the narratives and reflections. Following a grounded theoretical approach to analysis, rhetorical methods of analysis were employed to best track agency within the narratives of the participants. Conducting separate thematic analyses for the narratives and follow-up questions, the results spoke to three emergent and recurrent themes: "And so you do it as a product of necessity": Deemphasizing act, agent, and agency, "See, I don’t know where this starts...": Stretching the scene, and finally, the theme "I’m totally queer, I promise!": Denial of agency was evinced by the follow-up portion of the interview. Interpreting these themes revealed the major contributions of this study, including a protean conception of agency and a queer turn in identity politics.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Communication Studies


LGBT Center

First Advisor

Victoria Pruin DeFrancisco

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vi, 110 pages)



File Format


Off-Campus Download