Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Jill Singleton-Jackson

Keywords

Bisexual, Canada, Gay, Identity, Ontario, Windsor

Rights

CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

This study explored the experience of forming a stigmatized cultural identity within a particular social and historical context, specifically, gay and bisexual male (GBM) identity in Windsor and Essex County, Ontario, Canada. Savin-Williams' (1998) trajectory model of sexual identity development with milestones was utilized and issues identified in the research literature and significant problems confronted by GBMs were included. Sexual identity first milestones included attractions, self-labelling, disclosure, sex, love, and romantic relationships. Issues included harassment, HIV/AIDS, homelessness, use of mood altering substances, depression and suicide, and the sex trade. A mixed quantitative and qualitative method, sequential explanatory design, was used to collect occurrence and age data on milestones and issues significant to the development of GBM identities through an online survey, followed by a semi-structured interview. The 79 survey respondents and eight interviewees were GBMs, ages 17 to 26, who had lived in Windsor and Essex county for at least half of their lives. The trajectory model (with some alteration of the ordering of stages due to the influences of social, interpersonal, and intrapersonal contexts) was found to be useful in capturing the general sexual identity developmental progression of participants, while highlighting variability in occurrence, age of achievement, and order. Many of the issues identified in the literature were experienced by varying proportions of participants, with harassment being the most common and related to comparisons with others. Interviewees' narratives, analyzed for descriptive interpretative themes, highlighted the particular context of Windsor and Essex County in the development of their sexual identities and participation in and becoming part of a sexual community.

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