Publication details [#61009]

Heisterkamp, Brian L. 2016. Challenging heteronormativity. Recontextualizing references to members of gay male and lesbian couples. Journal of Language and Sexuality 5 (1) : 37–60.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


Because gay male and lesbian couples have broken from the heteronormative binary of cross-sex relationships, it is necessary to examine the conversational practices used by gay men and lesbians to refer to members of same-sex couples. While gay and lesbian couples use typical reference terms for romantic partners, this paper contends that this use challenges heteronormative language assumptions because these conversationalists apply the terms lover, partner, and boyfriend/girlfriend to reference co-couple members of same-sex couples, not cross-sex couples. They recontextualize terms normatively associated with reference to cross-sex romantic partners. This paper used conversation analysis to examine the data, which includes transcriptions of video and audio recordings of gay male and lesbian couples interacting in home environments. The findings suggest that reference terms are recontextualized beyond their heteronormative boundaries.