Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Psychological and Quantitative Foundations
William M. Liu
Literature has offered insight into aspects of traditional masculine gender norms in shaping expectations of soldiers (Arkin & Dobrofsky, 1978; Green et al., 2010; Johnson, 2010; Lorber & Garcia, 2010; Shawver, 1995), yet there has been little consideration of how these norms affect gay identified servicemen. For centuries, military policies have made efforts to restrict gay individuals from serving openly or at all, leading to inquiry about the effectiveness of these individuals as service members and the impact on unit cohesion (Burrelli, 2012; Parco & Levy, 2010; Shawver, 1995; Zellman, 1996). The current study examines the experiences of gay service men and the impact on the expression of their masculine and gay identity while in the military. The researcher explores the definition of masculinity in the military, its role in the expression of gay sexual identity, experiences of and participation in acts of homophobia by self or others, and participants’ perception of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy repeal, as it relates to their comfort with expressing their gay identity.
Previous research has looked into the how masculinity is defined in the military and the expectations that many soldiers face in trying to live up to this standard (Arkin & Dobrofsky, 1978; Green et al., 2010; Johnson, 2010; Lorber & Garcia, 2010; Shawver, 1995). There is little consideration, however, for the impact of these expectations on gay service members. The current study examines the experiences of gay service men and the impact on how they express their sense of masculinity and gay identity while in the military. More specifically, this study seeks these individuals' definition of masculinity, how it impacted their expression of being gay, and their experience in serving under polices preventing them from serving openly. Overall, findings suggest that these men identified with the military's definition of masculinity and did not feel less masculine because of their sexual orientation. Further, they continued to gain acceptance of their sexual identity while serving, but feel that it will still take several years before gays are fully accepted in the military.
publicabstract, gay, identity, internalized homophobia, masculinity, military
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