Using the media to disclose one’s sexual identity has become an increasingly salient practice in recent years. Yet little is known about the reasons for the emergence of this form of self-disclosure. Based on an analysis of the Dutch television programme Uit de Kast (‘Out of the Closet’), this article relates the rise of mediated coming out practices to the ritualizing power of the media: we argue that media plays a quintessential role in transforming the socially unscripted act of coming out into a patterned, culturally meaningful performance. Our analysis reveals that the ritual work of the programme is embedded in the way (1) the generic format of the show structures the self-disclosures, (2) the authority of the media is deployed to channel the coming out process and (3) the programme, while controlling diversity, reinforces dominant societal values and ideologies. The case not only highlights how unprecedented ritual forms come to flourish in the current era of ‘participatory’ media culture, but also demonstrates how ritualization supports and naturalizes the claim that media is an effective agent to create order in everyday, ordinary lives.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research is financed by a ‘PhDs in the Humanities’ grant of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).
© The Author(s) 2014.