"Narrating the Closet would likely appeal to any person interested in issues surrounding lesbian, gay and bisexual identity. This interest is not limited to the academic community, which I believe is one of the strongest features of this work. Though the book does read with an academic tone, the personal narratives and the simple descriptions of the metaphor of the closet make it a work that would be a worthwhile read for any same-sex attracted person, their friends, their family, their allies, and, in fact, their adversaries who are in need of education. In short, the book fills a tremendous gap in the literature and is cross-disciplined enough in nature that it may be a handy resource for any classroom of the social sciences, liberal arts or humanities.
- Joshua C. Collins, New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development
"In these particular days, the intersections between performance studies and queer studies seems of special importance, particularly as we all struggle with what may feel like competing demands between political action and scholarly perspective. Adams’ book is an eloquent demonstration that there need not be- and perhaps we cannot afford to have - any real distinction between the two. But he leaves all his readers the space to decide how they will make such ethical choices in personal ways. There is much to learn from his example.
- Bruce Henderson, Text and Performance Quarterly
"Narrating the Closet is linked to a body of queer and post-queer work which deals with same-sex desire and identity
after queer theory. It is a work that begins to deconstruct and critically reflects on the legacy of same-sex desire and culture as well as moving towards another ‘paradigm shift’ whereby the shibboleths of coming out of the closet, gay pride and gay consumer culture and capital are as problematic as they are empowering. Adams’ contribution to this field is both relevant and original, offering a multifaceted alternative to some of the facile and supercilious examinations of same-sex desire, identity politics and representation. The ways in which he examines the relational and contingent construction of the closet means that his work can be read as an autobiographical account used as a methodological resource or read as a critical text in the fields of psychology, sexuality and identity politics.
- Psychology & Sexuality
"This text would be appropriate for undergraduate and graduate students as well as those of us wanting an excellent example of autoethnography.... Adams' work expands definitions of culture and what constitutes the field in ethnographic work in a beautifully written piece of autoethnography. I am excited to see where this will take ethnographers in the future, and especially those of us interested in the study of stigmatized and marginalized identities and close relationships.
- Sandra L. Faulkner, The Qualitative Report
"Grounded in storytelling, Narrating the Closet convincingly models personal vulnerability and academic integrity. Adam’s narrative style has a poetic rhythm and cadence, inviting the reader to trust him as a narrator. While scholarly in nature, Narrating the Closet is accessible to a variety of academic and non-academic audiences. Scholars interested in gender and sexuality studies, queer studies, communication studies, and qualitative research will find Narrating the Closet a beneficial edition to their collection. Adam’s book extends the boundaries of qualitative research and encourages scholars to utilize their lived experiences as a site for critical inquiry. Narrating the Closet also provides advocates with insightful stories and information that can be used to tackle bullying, harassment, and LGBQ suicides. Narrating the Closet is an affirmation of LGBQ identities that reminds young gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer individuals that they are not alone.
- Stephanie L. Young, Sexuality & Culture
"Adams (communication, Northeastern Illinois Univ.)--a gay man who suffered the death of a former lover, possibly a suicide--combines personal memoir with a description of his research interviewing lesbian and gay people and doing content analysis of television shows and movies. After discussing the importance of the subject matter, the author writes about decisions to enter the closet (to oneself and to others), to stay in it, and possibly to leave it--including the paradoxes of these behaviors for the lesbian or gay individual and others with whom she or he interacts. Finally, he offers advice to people who have same-sex attractions--and those who interact with them--with an eye to making being in or leaving the closet more tenable. He concludes that tolerance between groups can result from mutual understanding of the various problems involved. In the appendix, he describes the methods of his research, giving both the positive and negative aspects of it. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers.
- R. W. Smith, CHOICE Magazine
"While it is indeed a scholarly work, as an autoethnographic research, Tony’s storytelling certainly makes this book accessible for “everyone.” For the reader who is less interested in the scholarly aspect of the storytelling, it is possible to be engaged by the stories. For the reader who is more interested in the scholarly research production, this book provides a rich contribution for the study of cultures, particularly of constitutive “invisible” and “ephemeral.” characteristics, as described by Tony (Adams, 2011). These two possibilities achieve what I consider to be one of the more beneficial features of autoethnographic research.... As a family therapist, I could envision the potential benefits that this research could provide for therapists, being a good fit with the contextual and relational perspectives of this field of practice. I also can envision the rich conversations that a text like this could awaken in classes such as Human Sexuality. Also, it could be a good reference book for autoethnographic research, particularly the Appendix section.
- Marcela Polanco, The Qualitative Review
"Interweaving his own story with interviews, life stories, and media and
textual analysis, Tony Adams\'
Narrating the Closet complicates,
theorizes, and enriches our understanding of the closet and the coming
out process. Adams explains in a fresh and original way the
complexities and potential dangers of coming out, along with the
iterative and interactional nature of that process. This book both
theorizes the closet and makes that theory real, explicating how the
many moments of coming out function in the lives of lesbians and gay
men. This is a thought-provoking and highly readable book.
- Jacqueline Taylor, Dean, College of Communication, DePaul University
"Narrating the Closet: An Autoethnography of Same-Sex Attraction
an eloquent personal and scholarly journey into the challenges,
anxieties, and joys of same-sex attraction. Professor Adams provides
historical, cultural, and rhetorical implications of the proverbial
closet in which so many members of the GLBT community have found
themselves. The book thoughtfully weaves observations, reflections,
analyses, and insights as it disentangles the coming out process of a
co-culture that has been maligned, ridiculed, and hated by a large
cross-section of American citizens. Narrating the Closet
situates sexual identity as an important personal and mediated life
“orientation” for millions of individuals.
As the U.S. moves toward more measurable tolerance and acceptance of
GLBT Americans, Adams’ book will be of particular value. His work
both depicts and honors the “voices” of those whose life experiences
have been misunderstood or ignored.
As you read this extraordinary tome, your heart will break at times
and be uplifted at other times. Throughout, however, you will find a
candid, compassionate, and engaged author who embraces an
other-centeredness rarely found in any published work. "
- Richard West, Professor, Emerson College, President, National Communication Association
" What Tony E. Adams accomplishes with Narrating the Closet
great significance. This overdue book creatively and provocatively
breaches how many people understand same-sex attraction and the
complex and challenging ways this attraction governs interaction,
identities and relationships. At once, it illustrates, confronts and
reconciles cultural assumptions, expectations and stereotypes in a
time when frank and in-depth reflection is often neglected but
essential. Methodologically Narrating the Closet
is an accessible and
exhaustive benchmark of meaningful ethnographic research--a scholarly
success that bravely and transparently describes the self and its
experiences at the service of expanding cultural insight. Indeed, this
is a particular story that will speak beautifully to many. "
- Keith Berry, Ethnography Division Chair, National Communication Association
" Seldom do words like “beautiful,” “wrenching,” and “loving” appear
in the same sentence with “significant contribution to the
literature.” But Tony Adams delivers all of the above in Narrating the
Adams challenges conventional ways of thinking and talking
about same-sex attraction. The reader comes to experience the closet
as both an existential and a relational space and coming out less as a
personal event than as an ongoing emotional, communicative, and
political navigation. Framed by the haunting story of a life cut
short, Narrating the Closet
offers equal measures of wisdom and
vulnerability. A must-read for theorists of communication,
relationships, and gay male identity and for those of us aspiring to
be compassionate and committed allies to LGBTQ persons and
- Lisa Tillmann, Professor, Rollins College, Author of Between Gay and Straight: Understanding Friendship Across Sexual Orientation