This narrative reveals several key dimensions of Keith’s identity as he perceives it—that of a person who belongs to a working-class family; a teenager residing in Glendale Heights, Illinois, one still relatively naïve about his own sexuality; a gay man and activist; a graduate student fully capable of making theoretical connections between his studies in rhetoric and his early language experiences; an adult making sense of the very human ability to name and, thus, know the world around him. Through this narrative, Keith asserts his own discursive agency as a gay activist, one politically opposed to homophobic taunting, one willing to speak out to an unknown general audience through his narrative, one courageous enough to contribute his story to the DALN where it will be made publically available on the internet.

Keith’s narrative also carries a great deal of cultural and historical information about the context of his life and his literacy development. It touches on the historic realities of gay life the Midwest before 1975—before Will and Grace and other positive media role models of gay people existed, before the gay rights movement had become a dominant cultural factor. The narrative provides information, further, about gay culture and the social processes involved in recognizing one’s sexuality; the relationship among discourse, GLBT culture, and heterosexual culture; the cultural behavior of some heterosexual male youths in 1975; the impact of media role models on sexual identity; and many more topics. Keith’s recounting also gives some insight into the city of Glendale Heights, Illinois at the time he was growing up, its working-class identity and its youth culture; and it offers revealing details about the University of Illinois-Chicago and its rhetoric curriculum during the time Keith attended graduate school there.