Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Queer Youth Activism: Generational Change in the US LGBTQ Movement
by Murphy, Megan K., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2017, 250; 10274714
Abstract (Summary)

The past several decades have witnessed rapid social and cultural change around LGBTQ individuals and sexual politics in the United States. As a result, LGBTQ youth are coming of age in a socio-historical context characterized by increasing normalization and visibility of LGBTQ people and less overt homophobia where LGBTQ individuals live their lives largely beyond the closet. In this dissertation, the unique characteristics of this post-closet movement generation are explored. I identify three core tensions faced by the post-closet generation: navigating restrictive at risk/victim frames, negotiating identities in the context of growing ambivalence about traditional gay/lesbian categories, and carving out activist participation in a mainstream movement that is largely detached from their identities and priorities. I ask how this generation navigates those core tensions and differs from prior movement generations in terms of how they negotiate their sexual and gender identities and engage in activism.

In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with forty youth who have engaged in activism around LGBTQ issues. I find post-closet youth are coming out at earlier ages to largely supportive families and are consequently shifting the coming out story to one of less importance. I examine the negotiation of sexual identities and participation in activism at three different college contexts and compare the differences in the collective identities formed in each. I find post-closet youth in all settings are negotiating alternative sexual identities, such as pansexual and queer, that emphasize fluidity and the deconstruction of the traditional gender binary. Contrary to popular conceptions of queer youth as apathetic, I find post-closet youth engaged in numerous activist efforts, in both mainstream venues such as GSAs and more often on the everyday and cultural levels, with visual art and performance-based activism focused on challenging traditional discourses around gender and sexuality.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Seidman, Steven
Commitee: Bose, Christine, Whittier, Nancy
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 78/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: GLBT Studies, Sociology
Keywords: Generational change, Lgbtq youth, Queer activism, Sexual identity, Social movements
Publication Number: 10274714
ISBN: 9781369765861
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