Publication details [#67456]

Motschenbacher, Heiko. 2020. Walking on Wilton Drive: A linguistic landscape analysis of a homonormative space. Language & Communication 72 : 25–43.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject


This study analyses the linguistic landscape of Wilton Manors, Florida, as it surfaces on its main street, Wilton Drive. Wilton Manors is a community with one of the largest LGBT populations in the US. The study thus makes a contribution to the field of linguistic landscapes and sexuality, using normativity as a central theoretical reference point. The data for the study were collected during a daytime walk on Wilton Drive and consist of photos of store fronts, restaurants, bars, advertisements and other signs, supplemented by printed material collected on the Drive and information provided by the official website of Wilton Drive. In my multimodal analysis, I investigate linguistic and non-linguistic signage, identifying mechanisms that render Wilton Drive a gay space. More specifically, I analyze how signage is used to discursively construct sexual identity, gender, desire and sexual practices. It is shown that homonormativity plays a central role in this context. Same-sex sexualities are discursively constructed as the local norm. At the same time, the signage on Wilton Drive is highly exclusive in the sense that it represents predominantly gay male experiences, whereas heterosexualities, lesbian and other sexualities are discursively marginalized or even silenced. At the same time, particular versions of gay masculinity are privileged, namely ones that can be described as white, middle-class and focused on consumption, gay identity politics and non-romantic forms of sexual activity. Keywords Linguistic landscape Language and sexuality Homonormativity Critical discourse studies Multimodality