Explore how gay cisgender young men aged 16 to 24 present and negotiate their identities

  • Russell Oxley

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This thesis presents an exploration into the presentation and negotiation of the (sexual) identities of young gay cisgender males. These elements of (sexual) identity can be affected by different factors including, but not limited to, prejudice, discrimination, and heterosexism. The research aimed to investigate the (sexual) identities of gay and cisgender young men aged between sixteen and twenty-four and how they present and negotiate this identity to shed some light on this group of young people within the wider LGBT community. Qualitative research was undertaken with ten young men aged between sixteen and twenty-four who identified as gay and cisgender from across the United Kingdom. Due to the pandemic, in-depth interviews were conducted online which were then transcribed verbatim and analysed.
A key finding concerned the negotiation of (sexual) identity with parents and peers, acknowledging that this is different for different people. A further finding identifies the variations in how the young men negotiated their sexual identity in different heteronormative environments. Another further finding demonstrated the difference in the engagement levels of the gay young men in youth work (LGBTspecific) – some had high levels of engagement while others choose to not engage, whilst a final finding highlighted the variances in self-presentation between the gay young men.
This research validates the distinctiveness of an individual’s experiences of identity presentation and negotiation – supporting the notions of queer youth identity formation and suggesting individual and diverse trajectories highlighting the need for greater attention to individual differences in (sexual) identity. The research also stresses the importance of LGBT-specific youth work for those gay young men that choose to engage in it; it also stresses the importance of family/peers when supporting an LGBT child. Furthermore, it also acknowledges the presence and impact of heterosexism in the lives of gay young men.
Date of Award19 Dec 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJo Woodiwiss (Main Supervisor) & Surya Monro (Co-Supervisor)

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