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Queer Whispers; Gay and Lesbian Voices of Irish Fiction

Jose Carregal (author)
Publication date:
1 October 2021

Author Biography

Jose Carregal lectures at the University of Huelva, Spain. His research focuses on the intersections between gender, sexuality and culture in contemporary Irish literature. His articles on the fiction of gay writers, in particular Colm Toibin and Keith Ridgway, have appeared in several Irish Studies journals, including New Hibernia Review, Irish University Review and Estudios Irlandeses


Before gay decriminalisation in 1993, there was no solid gay or lesbian tradition in Irish writing, due to the political and cultural dominance of a conservative, censorious Catholic ideology that conflated itself with notions of national identity and social respectability. Praised today as a beacon of gay rights, Ireland has become the first nation to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote in 2015. Significantly, whereas in the recent past there was much silence, stigma and prejudice surrounding homosexuality, now there is a plethora of voices reclaiming equality, visibility and recognition. Yet today's liberal culture still silences aspects of gay and lesbian life which go beyond the parameters of the 'socially acceptable' homosexual.
Queer Whispers: Gay and Lesbian Voices in Irish Fiction is the first comprehensive survey of gay and lesbian-themed fiction in Ireland, from the late 1970s until today. The book foregrounds the cultural contribution of Irish writers whose subversive, dissident voices decidedly challenged not only the homophobia and heteronormative values of Catholic Ireland, but also the persistent discrimination of more liberal times. Through the analyses of representative novels and short stories, the book addresses a number of social issues - lesbian invisibility, same-sex parenthood, sexual subcultures, HIV/AIDS and the liberalisation of Ireland, among many others -, considering how these fictions favoured a broader cultural and political awareness of the oppression and silencing of lesbian and gay people over the last decades in Ireland.
The writing explored in Queer Whispers consistently exposes the limitations imposed by silence, and, while doing so, articulates a new language of recognition and resilience of the continued struggles faced by queer Ireland.

'Kudos to Jose Carregal for gathering the scattered pieces of LGBT representation in Irish literature from the 1970s and producing an intelligent and insightful analysis. Queer Whispers is a long overdue and crucial study.' - Emma Donoghue