Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Just like everyone else": Lesbians performing heteronormativity to create connection
by Shrewsbury, Kristen M., Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2015, 241; 3718563
Abstract (Summary)

This study assists in gathering narratives of lesbian lived experiences in the culturally conservative context of the Shenandoah Valley during the political shift toward marriage equality in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Framed in relational-cultural theory (Jordan, 2010), individual narratives document 5 Shenandoah Valley lesbian couples’ conversations about marriage among partners located between February 13, 2014, when U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen declared Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and October 6, 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeals, thereby removing the delays to legal same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Conducting this inquiry during this cultural transition, the study’s focus is centered on contextual factors contributing to personal responses to prospective legal marriage. A poststructuralist feminist inquiry, the thematic analysis provides a contextualized snapshot in a time when political change is leading culture and invites readers to reflect and challenge their own discursively defined views. The thematic analysis revealed 7 key concepts for deeper consideration: relative belonging, caution, equal protections, the respectable same-sex couple, revisiting the relationship, family of origin, and personal ideology about marriage.

This study broadens the discourse of marriage equality by contributing lesbian-generated knowledge to the literature on the impact of the political shift toward marriage equality, and presents 5 distinct interview narratives. The project documents the tensions between assimilation and re-imagining marriage for lesbians performing heteronormativity as a facet of creating connection in a socially conservative culture. The impacts on the socially conservative culture includes the creation of new myths that reconfigure a separate gay culture in the paradigm of Foucault’s (1978a, 1978b) homosexual into an ambient community (Brown-Saracino, 2011) of the posthomosexual (Valverde, 2006) aligned with the emergent respectable same-sex couple (Valverde, 2006) and queer-blindness, an appropriation of the racism construct color-blindness aimed at queer sexualities rather than people of color. This project is significant to queer, feminist, and social justice scholars, activists and practitioners, lesbian couples considering marriage, and antigay activists whose collusion to subordinate this population has largely been an ideological fight against a disembodied other.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Simons, Shoshana
Commitee: Pelicci, Gabrielle, Russell, Amy
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Transformative Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Social psychology, Womens studies, GLBT Studies
Keywords: Commonwealth of virginia, Heteronormativity, Lesbian, Marriage equality, Narrative inquiry, Relational-cultural theory
Publication Number: 3718563
ISBN: 978-1-321-98431-6
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