My friends know that I am writing about them, but they do not know how I will do so. They do not know if I will be able to capture the nuances of their gender identities, if I will take their words and actions out of context or expose their secrets, shared after whispers of “this can’t go in your study, okay?”
Elizabeth has an agency all of her own, albeit one that we might not be familiar with, and so to reduce her experience only to the ties of sociality that bind her to others, is I think, to miss a significant portion of the story.
At what point does a moment of mutual intimacy become intrusive, or even violent? As ethnographers, we strive to learn the dance of our participants; we follow their lead as they generously guide us through their worlds. That dancing can be enthralling and as intense as it is intimate, and it can also invite unintentional violence.