Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The impact of marriage equality on sexual identity development in young men with same-sex sexual orientation
by Piper, Daniel L., Psy.D., Adler School of Professional Psychology, 2015, 121; 3664149
Abstract (Summary)

This study sought to examine the ways in which sexual identity development may be changing for young gay men as they grow to adulthood with the expectation that they will have the ability to choose marriage for themselves in their lifetime. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six self-identified gay men between the ages of 20 and 24 living in a large metropolitan area.

This study aimed to explore several questions. In general, how does the possibility that one may be able to marry impact an individual's imagined future and life story? How do these men envision their future relationships, and if they hope to marry, what do they imagine their marriage might be like? How do increasing legal recognition and equality impact one's self-view and the comfort with which one learns to accept and disclose one's sexual orientation? How do men with same-sex attraction who experienced adolescence while marriage equality was becoming legal throughout the United States define their sexual orientation?

The interviews revealed several themes, including others' reactions to the sexual identity of the individual, attitudes and beliefs about the "gay community", attitudes and beliefs about the role sexual identity plays in one's overall identity, attitudes and beliefs about relationship goals, awareness during childhood/adolescence about the advancement of marriage equality, attitudes about the current push toward gaining marriage equality, the anticipated impact of marriage equality on relationships, and attitudes and beliefs about the impact of marriage equality on gay culture.

Participants' relationship ideals were largely shaped by the values and attitudes of the culture in which they were raised. Their awareness that marriage equality was being fought for allowed them to believe that heteronormative relationship ideals regarding long-term, monogamous relationships for the purpose of childrearing were (or should be) available to them in a same-sex relationship. While participants were aware that non-monogamy in relationships was an available option, most participants rejected non-monogamy in favor of seeking long-term monogamous relationships with the possibility of raising children. Participants were aware of, and often internalized, stereotypes and negative judgments about gay men that are still prevalent in society, and most participants believed stereotypical characteristics or judgments were somewhat accurate depictions of the "gay community." Perhaps it was for this reason that the gay men interviewed for this study often distanced themselves from identifying with the "gay community." This suggested they felt that characteristics inherent to gay identity were not descriptive of themselves as individual people. In spite of the fact that participants did not feel they had much in common with the greater "gay community," they nonetheless adopted "gay" as the identity label that best described their sexual orientation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Alvarez, Josefina
School: Adler School of Professional Psychology
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 77/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, GLBT Studies, Psychology
Keywords: LGBT, Life-course theory, Marriage equality, Narrative of emancipation, Relationship trajectories, Sexual identity development
Publication Number: 3664149
ISBN: 9781339145747
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