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Ambivalent Affiliations: Black and White Gay Men's Discourses on Identity and Belonging

Geda, Kristopher (2014) Ambivalent Affiliations: Black and White Gay Men's Discourses on Identity and Belonging. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The majority of work done on gay men’s language in the United States has focused almost exclusively on white men, also tending to focus on phonetic qualities that allow others to identify the speaker as gay or on phonetic qualities that pattern along the lines of speaker sexuality. This dissertation expands on existing research by examining the speech of four white and four black young adult gay men in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area as they negotiate their gay identities in sociolinguistic interviews and group sessions.
Using discourse analysis to investigate the attitudes these men have toward homonormativity and gayness, I uncover their affiliations to a gay identity. In particular, I show how these men align with homonormative discourses about hypersexuality, coming-out, femininity, and the trajectory of a gay life. In their negative assessments of explicitly erotic activities like frequent casual sex and attempting to meet men for such activities in bars and through mobile applications, these men align themselves with the homonormative ideal of stable, couple-oriented monogamy. Examining dispreferred second-pair parts reveals their rejection of femininity as well as their familiarity with the coming-out story as an important communicative practice between gay men. Finally, I demonstrate that for this group of speakers in this particular context, there are no great differences in language use between black and white participants. I comment on the implications for gay men of color and their inclusion in a broader, homonormative gay community.
This study problematizes the understanding of social categories as fixed and static and highlights the highly variable nature of identity affiliation and linguistic representations of this variability. Rather than attribute certain speech features to the speaker’s identity, such as sex, class, or race, I show how speakers use language in the creation of their own identities and the interpretation of others’ by negotiating the available discourses around what it means to be a homonormative gay man in America.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Geda, Kristopherkjg23@pitt.eduKJG23
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKiesling, Scott F.Kiesling@pitt.eduKIESLING
Committee MemberGooden, Shelomesgooden@pitt.eduSGOODEN
Committee MemberJohnstone,
Committee MemberLeap,
Date: 30 January 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 March 2013
Approval Date: 30 January 2014
Submission Date: 2 December 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 161
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: language and sexuality, gay men's speech, discourse analysis, race and sexuality, homonormativity
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2014 21:29
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:16


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