Outness and Identity in Context: Negotiating Sexual Disclosure in LGBT Campaigns


With Tammy Baldwin’s historic election to the US Senate, the future of LGBT politics appears increasingly optimistic; however, despite electoral progress, feminist and political science research on LGBT campaigns retains antiquated conceptions of outness. My article studies the impact of identity and outness on LGBT campaigns from a non-binary, multi-dimensional perspective. Beyond mere sexual disclosure itself, I find that where, when, and how a candidate reveals her/his sexual orientation bears predominant impact on LGBT campaigns. Through a holistic framework, I present innovative questions and perspective for researchers studying the effects of LGBT identity and outness in US electoral politics.

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  1. 1.

    Henceforth referred to as LGBT.

  2. 2.

    For this study, outness refers to the disclosure of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identity.

  3. 3.

    A defense of marriage act bans state recognition of any relationship other than heterosexual marriage.

  4. 4.

    The inability to include closeted LGBT candidates is a considerable methodological problem. However, my article does not attempt to study all LGBT candidates, but solely “openly” LGBT candidates.

  5. 5.



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Immense thanks to Dr. Pamela Conover, Dr. Michele Berger, Dr. Sara Truel, Dr. Sherryl Kleinman, Dr. Marsha Michie, and Heather Marley for their help in researching, writing, and editing this article. Special thanks to Patsy Kluttz and Shirley Young for their continued inspiration and support as I pursue a career as a feminist activist and researcher.

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Correspondence to Billy Kluttz.

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Kluttz, B. Outness and Identity in Context: Negotiating Sexual Disclosure in LGBT Campaigns. Sexuality & Culture 18, 789–803 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-014-9221-x

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  • LGBT
  • Gay politics
  • Sexual orientation
  • Outness
  • Quantitative research
  • Queer theory
  • Intersectionality