Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Words Used to Describe Same-Sex Sexuality: An Exploration of Meaning
by Vicknair, Sharae R., M.S., University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2016, 91; 10163305
Abstract (Summary)

This study explored the lexical semantics of common same-sex sexuality labels (i.e., homosexual, gay, gay man, lesbian, and no label) by presenting 395 participants with a short story about a fictitious person. The goal was to determine what effects these labels (as well as their social status) would have on participants’ willingness to interact socially with and participants’ support for their civil rights. Age, gender, religious affiliation, and contact with sexual minorities were assessed for each participant, and participants were also asked to rate the likely gender of the fictitious person. Results revealed that neither social status nor sexuality label had an influence on participants’ support for civil rights; however, participants were more willing to interact with the fictitious person when they were of higher status. Additionally, willingness to interact was also influenced by label: male participants were more willing to interact with the fictitious person who identified as a gay man or as a lesbian than the fictitious person who identified as homosexual or as gay, but labels did not have a significant influence on female participants’ willingness to interact. Contact with sexual minorities and not affiliating with a particular religion were associated with more willingness to interact with the fictitious person and higher support for their civil rights. Discussion suggests that same-sex sexuality labels may have various meaning components associated with them that influence individuals’ opinions of LGB individuals. The gendered terms gay man and lesbian had more positive valence associated with them (when compared to homosexual and gay) as demonstrated by male participants’ reactions. The term homosexual was found to be the most gender neutral option and gay appeared to be more associated with the male gender.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Breaux, Brooke O.
Commitee: Brown, Amy L., Sandoz, Emily K.
School: University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Louisiana
Source: MAI 56/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, GLBT Studies, Psychology
Keywords: Gay men, Homosexuality, LGBT discourse, Labels, Lesbian women, Psycholinguistics, Same-sex sexuality
Publication Number: 10163305
ISBN: 978-1-369-17997-2
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