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Living differently : gay male undergraduates' student experiences

Taulke-Johnson, Richard 2009. Living differently : gay male undergraduates' student experiences. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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In this thesis I present a snapshot of the university lives and experiences of 17 gay male undergraduate students attending an institution in the UK. I draw upon thematic analysis of data obtained from individual, in-depth, face-to-face, semi-structured interviews. My main focus of investigation is the ways in which participants' higher education biographies compare and contrast with dominant accounts of the gay student experience, which are characterised by intolerance, harassment, victimisation, heterosexism and homophobia. My theoretical framework is derived from university space being, like all non-gay-speciflc space, pervaded by discourses of compulsory heterosexuality (Rich 1980) and the workings of the heterosexual matrix (Butler 1990). I am interested in how participants produced, expressed, managed and negotiated their alternative identities in these higher education settings. I therefore interrogate the role and importance participants ascribed their gayness at university, the effect and influence of their sexuality on their university choices and on their relationships with flatmates, their coming out narratives and experiences in higher education, and their behavioural management and performative expressions of identity within university spaces. This range of analysis is informed by a variety of disciplines and fields of study, including sociology, sexuality, gender, psychology, and human geography. Findings often contrast with those typically reported in academic literature, both in participants' marked decentralisation of their non-heterosexuality in self-identification, and in portrayals of gay students as other than as victims of harassment, discrimination and persecution. Although participants are very much aware of the regulatory heteronormative mechanisms of straight discourses operating within university spaces, they are highly sensitive and skilled in expressing, monitoring, adapting, asserting and negotiating their identities in these environments. In fact, participants framed university as a generally positive, tolerant, accepting and happy place in which to be gay. I therefore argue that these 'new' stories and ways of 'living differently' should be acknowledged to enrich and further understanding of this population's experiences within higher education.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
ISBN: 9781303215056
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:31

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