Gay and Lesbian Identity: A Sociological Analysis

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Rowman & Littlefield, 1988 - Social Science - 159 pages
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In the past twelve years, research into homosexuality has undergone a major shift in emphasis. A concern with documenting the etiology, treatment, and psychological adjustment of homosexuals has been replaced by an interest in understanding how people develop homosexual identities-that is, organized perceptions of themselves as homosexuals in relation to sexual and romantic settings. People are not born with perceptions of themselves as homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual. Sexual identities evolve slowly, over a long period of time. This book develops an ideal-typical model of homosexual identity formation that represents a synthesis of, and elaboration on, previous theorizing and research on the subject. The model draws heavily upon accounts provided by homosexuals themselves. The model developed is unique in four major ways: it is grounded in current research and theory; it describes identity formation in both lesbians and gay males; it notes similarities as well as differences between the sexes in homosexual identity development; and it explains differences between gay males and lesbians in terms of their experiences with gender-role socialization. This is the first book to differentiate analytically the constructs of self, self-concept, identity, and homosexual identity within a unified theoretical framework. With one major exception, these conceptual distinctions have not been drawn in previous discussions of homosexual identity, and this lack has contributed to conceptual disarray. The theoretical approach adopted here is symbolic interactionism, a social-psychological perspective within the discipline of sociology. There is a sharp disagreement among theorists about the nature and meaning of homosexual identities. Do homosexuals' identities represent a confusion of being with doing, the mistaken belief that one is what one does, the equation of the entire self with one type of behavior? Do homosexual identities represent one of several major interests that are constructed socially and defined as reflecting essential facets of personality?
 

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
Plan of the Book
4
SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT AND HOMOSEXUALITY
5
Human Sexualities
6
Sexual Socialization
8
Early Adolescence
10
Middle and Late Adolescence
12
Homosexuality as Status Passage
13
Involuntarily Imposed Factors
78
Conclusions
79
THE IDENTITYCONSTRUCT APPROACH
80
Use of the Term Homosexual
88
The Homosexual Identity as SelfIdentity
89
Explaining the Centrality of Identity
92
Stigma and Secrecy
93
Identity Change
96

A Multidimensional View of Homosexuality
15
Definition of Homosexual
16
Incidence of Homosexual Behavior
17
A Typology of Homosexuality
18
SELF SELFCONCEPT IDENTITY AND HOMOSEXUAL IDENTITY
22
Self
23
SelfConcept
26
Identity
27
Social Situations
28
Identity and SelfConcept
29
Homosexual Identity
31
Uses of the Term Homosexual
32
Theoretical Implications
33
A MODEL OF HOMOSEXUAL IDENTITY FORMATION
35
Themes of Models
36
Plummer
37
Ponse
38
Cass
39
An IdealTypical Model
41
Sensitization
42
Identity Confusion
45
Identity Assumption
50
Commitment
53
Conclusions
58
THE SOCIALROLE PERSPECTIVE
61
Homosexual as Social Type
62
Anthropological Evidence
65
Polymorphous Perversity
68
Learning the Homosexual Role
70
The Role as Defined Subculturally
71
The Diversity of Homosexual Roles
72
Homosexual Scripts
74
Homosexual Identity as Presented Identity
75
The Stability of Identities and Roles
77
Conclusions
99
THE ESSENTIALIST MODEL
101
What Homosexuality Represents
102
The Consistency Principle
104
Departures from the Consistency Principle
105
Hormonal Irregularities
107
Prenatal Hormones
109
Predicting Adult Sexual Preferences
112
A Critique
117
Conclusions
120
CONCLUSION
123
The Homosexual as Social Construct
124
Homosexuality as Disease
125
Homosexuality as Health Threat
127
A Return to Etiology
128
THE RISKS OF SEX EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
130
Personal Risks
131
Occupying Sexual Extremes
132
Sources of Peril
133
Variables Related to Risks
134
Personal Factors
135
Professional Risks
136
Specialization
137
Controversial Course Content
138
Student Expectations
139
Situational Strategies
140
Redefinition
141
Economic Climate
142
Institutional Goals
143
References
144
About the Author
154
Index
155
Copyright

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About the author (1988)

\Richard R.Troiden, an AASECT-certified Sex Educator and Sex Counselor, is Associate Professor of Sociology at Miami University (Ohio). He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from SUNY-Stony Brook in 1978. He is co-editor (with Erich Goode) of Sexual Deviance and Sexual Deviants. His current research interest (with Martin P. Levine) is on sexual addiction and compulsion.

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