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Dissertation Defenses

Doctoral students who have an upcoming dissertation oral defense are posted here. So why not take this opportunity to learn about the research that our graduate students are doing!

Dissertation Defense for Michael Staley

Program: SOCIOLOGY: PHD

Department Contact Email: michael.staley@unh.edu

Defense Title: COMING OUT AND HOOKING UP: THE EXPERIENCE OF GAY, BISEXUAL, AND QUESTIONING AND QUEER LATTER-DAY SAINT MEN AS THEY NEGOTIATE ATTRACTION, IDENTITY, AND BEHAVIOR

Defense Date and Time: 02/25/19 2:00 pm

Defense Location: McConnell 302

Defense Advisor: Michele Dillon


Defense Abstract: Coming out and negotiating sex, dating, and relationships among Latter-day Saint (formerly known as Mormon) men has not been well-studied. I use existing models of coming out to differentiate the experience of gay, bisexual, queer and questioning (GBQ) Latter-day Saint (LDS) men. Additionally, I use sexual fields theory to understand how GBQ LDS men make decisions about choosing sex and/or dating partners. In this ethnographic study, I attended a group for LDS men in Utah who were coming out as GBQ, considering dating other men, and becoming sexually active. Over the course of nearly two years, I went to meetings, local conferences, and social events. GBQ LDS men’s coming out, early dating and sexual experiences are highly impacted by LDS theology and beliefs. GBQ LDS men come out to family, friends, and peers in a two-stage sequence: first as celibate, same-sex attracted men, or SSA. Due to othering caused by the sympathy discourse, the men eventually disclose that they intend to date and have sex with other men. GBQ men use a complex system of valuation, unique to the sexual field, that ranks men hierarchically: men who did not serve proselytizing missions, are unworthy to enter temples, do not wear religious garments, are not white, and who are viewed as promiscuous, among other factors, are considered less desirable—even if they have similar physical appearances as the other men. Previous research indicates that individuals with low sexual capital are at higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted infection, HIV, and/or being sexually assaulted. The sociological study of coming out ought to be revisited in unique populations of non-heterosexual people, and public health campaigns on sexual wellness and mental health ought to be adapted to consider the circumstances of religious GBQ men.


 

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