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Coming Out of the Cabinet: Fashioning the Closet with Sweden’s Most Famous Diplomat
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for Fashion Studies. Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Musicology and Performance Studies.
2010 (English)In: Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty, ISSN 2040-4417, Vol. 1, no 2, 233-254 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This essay offers a critical analysis of the media discourse surrounding the Swedish diplomat Sverker Åström’s coming out as a gay man at the age of 87. Particular interest is devoted to his striking fashion choice of wearing a pair of oddly coloured socks, which highlighted his contradictory masculinity as well as the many inherent paradoxes of the closet. Åström’s red and green socks functioned as a means to express forbidden desires, to oppose normative expectations in a playful way and to grant the gay subject a presence in a world that is still very much structured by the logics of the closet. Moreover, his contradictory body language, coupled with his repeated affirmations that his coming out was a private issue, revealed a divided masculinity that was ideologically dependent on a pre-feminist understanding of gender and sexuality as private, that is, non-political identities. The article argues that there was strong evidence to suggest that his coming out was in fact a tactical move in a political game with the objective to denounce and ridicule the Swedish Security Police, which, after decades of surveillance, refused to grant the diplomat access to its classified files on him.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 1, no 2, 233-254 p.
Keyword [en]
Sverker Åström, Swedish sexual politics, cold war masculinity, fashion and homosexuality, the closet
National Category
Gender Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-52334DOI: 10.1386/csfb.1.2.233_1OAI: diva2:387108
Available from: 2011-01-13 Created: 2011-01-13 Last updated: 2015-11-16Bibliographically approved

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Gindt, Dirk
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Centre for Fashion StudiesDepartment of Musicology and Performance Studies
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