University of Leicester
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Constructing sexual identities : a discursive analysis of young people's talk about identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual - Volume 1

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:46 authored by Anna. Engel
In this study I adopt a social constructionist perspective to consider how young lesbians, gay men and bisexuals (LGBs) construct their experiences and their sense of self as LGB within the context of broader cultural understandings of LGBs and LGB sexualities. Firstly, I discuss the literature on LGB sexualities, tracing the ways modernist and postmodernist perspectives have produced varying discursive constructions of LGB sexualities. I then describe the present study in which I interviewed eight young people (aged 15 - 25yrs), using a semi-structured interview, all of whom identified as either lesbian, gay or bisexual. The accounts produced through these interviews were analysed using a discourse analytic approach. Through this analysis two metanarratives were identified. The first constructed LGB sexualities in terms of normality and abnormality and the second in terms of similarity and difference. Having described these metanarratives and the discourses of which they are comprised, I consider their functions and effects, paying particular attention to the ways in which these discourses are played out as social practices. I also consider the ways that LGBs are variously positioned within these narratives and discuss some of the strategies which may be employed by young LGBs in order to position themselves positively within the metanarratives of normality/abnormality and similarity/difference. A key finding of this study was that the similarity/difference metanarrative appeared to afford greater flexibility and more possibilities for constructing a positive identity as LGB compared with the normal/abnormal metanarrative.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Clinical Psychology

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DClinPsy



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