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'My Name is Janice, and My Daughter is a Lesbian': Youth Homosexuality and the Lifetime Original

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Abstract:

The Lifetime Original The Truth About Jane is a highly rated, award-winning telefilm and one of the first U.S. TV movies concerning teen lesbianism. It presents what seems to be a healthy, normative understanding of adolescence, in line with broader, liberal parental discourses of youth homosexuality. I argue, however, that this narrative is complicated because it risks fixing lesbian and gay sexual identity in essentialist terms, something that may serve an ultimate purpose of assuring straight parents that gay and lesbian children will grow up no different than other children. The identity work of the title character, Jane, and her mother, Janice, is examined using Foucault’s understanding of confession as a ritual of discourse, which provides the means of producing the truth of one’s sexuality and reducing guilt but is always constrained by being compelled and adjudicated, in this case by a straight viewer. The analysis also focuses on key extratextual elements of the film’s production and reception, which include being promoted as part of a “commitment” on the part of Lifetime to address pressing social issues and being produced in the context of “women’s television” and for an audience comprised mostly of heterosexual wives and mothers. I conclude by positing the TV movie as a regulatory scheme for mediating the representation of the American family, one that seems flexible and open to reworking the very notion of family by incorporating new conceptions of youth homosexuality but that ultimately contains the specter of deviant sexuality.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

jane (132), parent (80), janic (68), ident (63), gay (62), lesbian (61), famili (59), homosexu (51), sexual (51), come (50), truth (48), youth (44), mother (42), one (33), telefilm (32), 2001 (31), 2000 (31), name (30), narrat (30), adolesc (28), work (26),

Author's Keywords:

Lifetime Television, women’s television, TV movie, gay youth, lesbianism
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Association:
Name: International Communication Association
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http://www.icahdq.org


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MLA Citation:

Kachgal, Tara. "'My Name is Janice, and My Daughter is a Lesbian': Youth Homosexuality and the Lifetime Original" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, New Orleans Sheraton, New Orleans, LA, May 27, 2004 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p113444_index.html>

APA Citation:

Kachgal, T. M. , 2004-05-27 "'My Name is Janice, and My Daughter is a Lesbian': Youth Homosexuality and the Lifetime Original" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, New Orleans Sheraton, New Orleans, LA Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p113444_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The Lifetime Original The Truth About Jane is a highly rated, award-winning telefilm and one of the first U.S. TV movies concerning teen lesbianism. It presents what seems to be a healthy, normative understanding of adolescence, in line with broader, liberal parental discourses of youth homosexuality. I argue, however, that this narrative is complicated because it risks fixing lesbian and gay sexual identity in essentialist terms, something that may serve an ultimate purpose of assuring straight parents that gay and lesbian children will grow up no different than other children. The identity work of the title character, Jane, and her mother, Janice, is examined using Foucault’s understanding of confession as a ritual of discourse, which provides the means of producing the truth of one’s sexuality and reducing guilt but is always constrained by being compelled and adjudicated, in this case by a straight viewer. The analysis also focuses on key extratextual elements of the film’s production and reception, which include being promoted as part of a “commitment” on the part of Lifetime to address pressing social issues and being produced in the context of “women’s television” and for an audience comprised mostly of heterosexual wives and mothers. I conclude by positing the TV movie as a regulatory scheme for mediating the representation of the American family, one that seems flexible and open to reworking the very notion of family by incorporating new conceptions of youth homosexuality but that ultimately contains the specter of deviant sexuality.

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Document Type: .PDF
Page count: 28
Word count: 9788
Text sample:
My Name is Janice 1 The Truth About Jane The hardest thing for a parent is watching their child come of age The hardest thing for Jane was lying to her parents But Jane has a secret that she’s kept to herself And when that secret is known it could cost her the love of her family A family’s struggle to accept their daughter for who she is (Voiceover Promo The Truth About Jane) In this paper I examine
All the rage: the story of gay visibility in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Zera D. (1992). Coming of age in a heterosexist world: The development of gay and lesbian adolescents. Adolescence 27(108) 849-854. 1 The two early full-length telefilms Born Innocent (1974) and Cage Without a Key (1975) that have portrayed youth lesbianism framed it as deviant and situational and in the context of juvenile delinquency (Tropiano 2002). More recent efforts have been the 1990 PBS telecast


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