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Exploring the emergence of a new identity: a qualitative inquiry into the multiplicities of queerness
Arrington, Christina L. M
This thesis draws upon interviews with thirteen queer-identified people in San Diego County in an attempt to provide a better understanding of queer identity and its multi-faceted applications. The word "queer" has historically been used as an insult, but in the wake of its reclamation over the last few decades it has morphed into a popular umbrella term for "gay and lesbian." However, queer has also become more commonly adopted as an identity label by a wide variety of individuals who reject discreet categories and consciously envision gender and sexuality as fluid and unlimited. Unfortunately there is very little scholarship on the topic of queer-as-identity, and what existing academic work there is fails to center the voices of those queer-identified. As such, this thesis uses the results of personal interviews to explore not only the intricacies of queer identity as a theoretical construct, but also the different ways in which those who are queer-identified use the term in their own lives. It sets out to better understand how queer is a lived identity, in what ways it differs from other identities adopted by sexual minorities, if queer as an identity category is applied to other aspects of life, and how self-identified queers negotiate community and their relationships with others. After reviewing existing literature on the history of the homosexual movement, queer theory, and queer identity, the results of the interviews are subjected to thematic analysis. Through this investigation we discover the possibilities that queer provides as an identity label for sexual orientation and gender, how queer is used to descriptively frame additional aspects of one's life such as race/ethnicity or chosen relationship models, and the ways in which queer is being utilized as a political lens and all-encompassing worldview.
Arts and Letters
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2010
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