The Possible Forms of Professionalism: Credibility and the Performance of Queer Sexualities Among Barristers in England & Wales

Mason, M., Vaughan, S. and Weil, B. 2023. The Possible Forms of Professionalism: Credibility and the Performance of Queer Sexualities Among Barristers in England & Wales. Journal of Law and Society.

TitleThe Possible Forms of Professionalism: Credibility and the Performance of Queer Sexualities Among Barristers in England & Wales
TypeJournal article
AuthorsMason, M., Vaughan, S. and Weil, B.
Abstract

This paper contributes the first account of sexual minority barristers’ experience of and relation to professionalism at the Bar. Drawing on survey and interview data, it presents the Bar as a site of heteronormativity, where masculinist heterosexuality is pervasively assumed and publicly valorised. The ‘credible’ barrister - authoritative, respected, competent - is constructed as heterosexual. In this context, sexual minority barristers risk a loss of credibility in coming out or being out in the workplace. Our data present mechanisms by which these individuals manage the public expression of their sexuality. Some - in contrast to heterosexual colleagues - deny entirely the professional relevance of their sexuality; others adopt assimilationist strategies, curating a ‘credible’ public persona: out, but otherwise conforming to heteronormative expectations and values. While the data include hopeful exceptions, many sexual minority barristers experience professionalism as pressure to render their sexuality effectively invisible, at significant cost personally and professionally.

KeywordsLGBTQ+
Queer
Lawyers
Barristers
Sexuality
Professionalism
Sexual Minorities
Coming out
credibility
workplaces
Bar of England and Wales
JournalJournal of Law and Society
ISSN0263-323X
1467-6478
Year2023
PublisherWiley
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
ProjectGoing to the Gay Bar, Gay Bar: Sexuality and Barristers in England and Wales

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