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Title: Exploring how gay men manage their gay identity in the workplace
Author: Roberts, Simon Peter
ISNI:       0000 0004 5359 6936
Awarding Body: Queen Mary, University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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In the UK, as in many western nations, there have been a number of progressive pieces of legislation enacted with the intent to eradicate discrimination on the basis of sexuality in the workplace. The pace and scale of acceptance of gay equality laws has been relatively rapid in recent years. To cite an example, in 2004 gay marriage was only legal in Belgium and Holland, whereas in 2013 it is legal in 11 countries (The Guardian, 2013). Up until this legislation came into force, the focus of previous research probably unsurprisingly has been predominately around two strands; sexual minorities’ experiences of discrimination in the workplace and the issue of disclosure/non-disclosure of a gay identity. There has been little exploration ‘beyond the closet’, in how gay men manage their identity post anti-discrimination laws combined with more liberal attitudes towards homosexuality. In particular, there has been a paucity of research on the ways gay men challenge, negotiate and conform in the two way process of managing their identities; this thesis aims to address this gap. Data were gathered from forty-five semi-structured in-depth interviews with self-identified gay men in a wide range of occupations and ages working in a seaside resort on the South coast of England. A qualitative methodology was used in order to obtain a deeper understanding of the ways gay men manage their gay identity in their interaction with others. Furthermore, by using reflexivity this thesis aims to show how the sample of respondents had modified and changed the ways they presented their gay identity throughout their working lives. In particular, the thesis aims to uncover critical incidents based upon their sexuality that respondents confronted in their interaction with others. The key findings that emerged from the data include; the identification of a range of strategies gay men deployed in how they managed their identity and dealt with discrimination from confrontation to conformity; the multiple constraints and opportunities that impacted upon the ways gay men both managed and disclosed their gay identity; the perceived incongruity around positions of authority, professionalism and a gay identity; and finally how silence was used as a form of exclusion creating significant barriers in the ways gay men could make themselves visible and use their voice within organisations. These findings considerably extend our understanding of the pervasiveness of heteronormativity in the workplace; the impact of contextual influences on managing a gay identity, and gay men’s experiences against a back drop of post-anti-discrimination laws in the U.K. The thesis will aid HR practitioners in giving them a better understanding of the dilemmas gay men face in their interactions with others in the workplace.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Business and Management ; Homosexuality ; Discrimination law ; Homophobia