Publication details [#63606]

McKinnon, Sean. 2017. “Building a thick skin for each other”. The use of ‘reading’ as an interactional practice of mock impoliteness in drag queen backstage talk. Journal of Language and Sexuality 6 (1) : 90–127.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


Although queer linguistics has long acknowledged the playful use of potentially impolite utterances by LGBT people to build in-group solidarity these practices have not been analyzed from a sociopragmatic approach, nor have they been mentioned in the general pragmatics literature. Responding to these two gaps, the present study examines the functional use of the interactional practice ‘reading’ in the backstage talk of four drag queen performers. By employing a mock impoliteness analytical framework (Haugh & Bousfield 2012) this study shows how these utterances, which could potentially be evaluated as genuine impoliteness outside of the appropriate context, are positively evaluated by in-group members who recognize the importance of “building a thick skin” to face a hostile environment from LGBT and non-LGBT people. This study also seeks to draw attention to the use of backstage talk, and supplemental interview data, to uncover drag queen cultural practices through language use.