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Bahar, S. (2012). Coming Out as Queen: Jewish Identity, Queer Theory, and the Book of Esther. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 13(3):167-178.

(2012). Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 13(3):167-178

Coming Out as Queen: Jewish Identity, Queer Theory, and the Book of Esther

Shirly Bahar, M.A.

Far from new, correlative and comparative conceptualizations of Jewish and queer studies go back to one of queer theory's first, and most influential, accounts: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet (1990). This article revisits Sedgwick's comparison between the gay and the Jewess's acts of coming out to delicately destabilize her dichotomized differentiation of them. Unconditionally endorsing her condemnation of homophobia, I nevertheless shift my lens to center Esther's, rather than gay men's, narrated experience at the heart of the article. Closely and carefully examining Esther's utterances and performances throughout the entire Book of Esther to trace a multifaceted understanding of her fictionalized figure, I conflate Sedgwick's narration of Esther with more elaborate examinations of Esther's literary construction. Capturing Esther's fluid textuality, I contest the very assumption that one's coming out as queer—within cultural as well as sexuality discourses—indicates her intention to define and/or confine herself along strict, systematic, and/or static taxonomies.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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