Colourful voices: the experience of young lesbians combating homophobia and heteronormativity

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Title: Colourful voices: the experience of young lesbians combating homophobia and heteronormativity
Authors: Mallon, Aoife
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/4391
Date: Jan-2013
Abstract: This article explores the current status of LGBT youth in Ireland, particularly focussing on the lesbian youth experience. Although previous studies have been undertaken in relation to LGBT individuals, and while there are a number of reports into the mental health of young LGBTs, little research has been carried out with regards to the lived experiences of younger lesbians specifically and how this has affected their identification process. This paper focuses on younger lesbian sexuality, those aged in their late teens to early thirties and the exploration of their patterns of identity. Through the process of an online survey which is comprised of a large sample of younger lesbians in Ireland, the author explores key themes such as “coming out”, homophobia, schooling, gender-based violence, socialization and media representation. Although coming out is an external process, it is one which has complex internal components and is a recurrent process in a heteronormative society such as Ireland. Homophobia and sexism are often intrinsically linked with coming out, with lesbians being discriminated against because of their sexuality and because they are women. Furthermore this paper explores in detail socially constructed environments such as schools and what institutionalized heteronormativity means for younger lesbians and the LGBT community. Schools are crucial spaces for the development of young people’s identities. But quite often individual identities are not fostered and encouraged but rather heterosexual identities are. This paper shows how homophobic bullying and violence serves to reinforce the heterosexual norm, by creating a climate of fear. It shows the resilience of LGBT youth resulting in a fascinating insight into the lives of a marginalized group in society.
Funding Details: Not applicable
Type of material: Working Paper
Publisher: University College Dublin. School of Social Justice. Women's Studies
Keywords: Lesbian identity;Heteronormativity;Homophobia;Gender;Sexuality;Social practices
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Women and Gender Studies Series

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