Unseen lives, silent mourning : the visibility of lesbian death in materialised words.

Stevens, Carolyn Gay (2013) Unseen lives, silent mourning : the visibility of lesbian death in materialised words. thesis, University of Wales, Trinity St David.

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Abstract

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 enabled the legal registration of same-sex partnerships; this recognised, and gave institutional approval to, lesbian and gay relationships which, in terms of the former, previously had no legal visibility. This study examines the thoughts of small groups of lesbians and funerary professionals as to why, despite the legal changes, there appear to be very few memorials in cemeteries that indicate lesbian identity or relationship. The lesbian group was also asked if visibility in the cemetery was something they would want, and in what circumstances might this be possible. Four main themes are identified as to why respondents believe this situation still exists eight years after the approval of the Act. These are: unacknowledged or silenced relationships; disempowerment by family or church/faith; the language available, and dissonance between legal progress and social acceptance. Furthermore, lesbians wanted memorials that recognised all parts of their lives, and that might inspire and create a community for those lesbians who would follow. The responses are discussed in two situations – a municipal cemetery and a natural burial ground. Significant paradoxes are identified which mean that wishes for visibility conflict with material impermanence and fears of homophobic violence. The discussion references Davies’ (2002) theory of ‘words against death’ and Hertz’s (1960) writing of differentiated grief responses in Indonesia, and the latter informs the concept of a visible society in the cemetery. Okely’s (1996) notion of ‘defiant moments’ adds a sense of agency to counter-balance silence and oppression. This study can only be seen as representing the opinions of two small and inter-related groups; further research on a wider scale is needed to fully explore this subject. University of Wales Trinity Saint David Carolyn Gay Stevens MA Death Studies Unseen Lives, Silent Mourning: The Visibility of Lesbian Death in Materialised Words. February 2013

Item Type: Thesis (UNSPECIFIED)
Additional Information: Series: Carmarthen / Lampeter Dissertations;10412/253.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Death, Gay and lesbian studies
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2014 19:16
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2015 10:14
URI: http://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/440

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