Graphic Queering of Mental Illness: Nagata’s My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness as Counter Discourse

Author: M. N. Shobitha, Ethiraj College for Women, Chennai, India
Published: February 4, 2022

Citation: Shobitha, M. N. (2021). Graphic Queering of Mental Illness: Nagata’s My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness as Counter Discourse. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 8(2).


Eating disorders have been understood predominantly as a female malady and impulsively associated with notions of femininity. This paper holds this view to be restrictive in that it overshadows other aspects that contribute to this complex phenomenon. It discusses Kabi Nagata’s My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness as a text that opens up underexplored dimensions of the condition by separating it from gender and relating it to sexuality instead. Given the fact that the queer community is comparatively more vulnerable to mental illnesses like eating disorders, the paper locates the text within the backdrop of the historical pathologisation of sexuality and its correlative desexualisation of the pathologised. Using Crip theory as a point of departure, the article aims to unearth the commonalities between queer studies and disability studies to identify overlapping areas. It positions Nagata’s text as a counter discourse by identifying heteronormativity as the illness-inducing phenomena rather than relating homosexuality to a state of being ill or disabled. Nagata’s choice and employment of the graphic medium’s rhetorical devices are analysed to justify the medium’s as most suitable to “show” the invisible states of queerness and mental illness. It concludes with demonstrating how the medium acts as a therapeutic confrontational mode of expression, offering the memoirist agency to rewrite/redraw her experience, thereby creating new meanings of the same.


crip theory, eating disorders, graphic medicine, heteronormativity, queerness, sexuality