The gayle I know: a story about language, friendship and subjectivity

Mulligan, Lauren
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This research takes the form of a short film (16 minutes), tackling the complexity of gayle in its circulation and the role of performance in constructing and maintaining identity amongst LGBTQ+ coloured users in Cape Town. The existing literature on gayle focuses on exclusively English-speaking white male participants, exposing a gap in the current literature on this subject that ignores the lived experiences of coloured users. I accessed friends, family and acquaintances in my fieldwork to explore the socio-political currency of the code and the relationship between language, identity and performance within a particular fraternity. Furthermore, this research explores the movement of the code from subculture to its appropriation by popular culture by referencing the work of Dick Hebdige. The delivery outcomes include a report exploring the subjectivity of the research that exposes the relationship between the participants, the researcher and the research. Using these ethnographic strategies, the film moves between observational, non-observational and participatory modes.
Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of the Arts (Film and Television) in the Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, August 2018