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He Leans to the Right

Title: He Leans to the Right: The Personal and Political Identities of Gay Republicans.
Name(s): Chouinard, Michael S. (Michael Steven), author
Nudd, Donna M., professor directing dissertation
Hellweg, Joseph, university representative
Proffitt, Jennifer M., committee member
McDowell, Stephen D., committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Communication and Information, degree granting college
School of Communication, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2015
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (313 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: We all contain multitudes of identifiable characteristics, which contribute to our ever-evolving individual and collective identities. These identities function in a variety of ways to reflect and shape our beliefs, actions, sense of self, and relationships to others. Yet, given the plethora of unique and fluid identities within each of us, it is to be expected that not all of them will fit harmoniously together. Sometimes multiple identities are determined--either by oneself or by broader social influences--to be at odds. An example of this dissonance, and the focus of this dissertation, is individuals who identify as both gay and Republican. The American political landscape seems to grow more inhospitable with each passing year, as the two dominant parties work to promote a politics of polarization. This is not surprising since Democrats and Republicans have much to lose by compromising on issues, as compromise requires concessions and would demonstrate moderation, thereby opening the door for other political actors to pull some power from the left and right. Thus, the parties push away from one another, dividing citizens along clear party lines. One current divisive issue is LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) equality, which has garnered significant support from the Democratic Party and considerable opposition from the Republican Party. This is not to say that all Democrats or all Republicans agree with their respective party's position, but the fact remains that at this point in American political history, a clear divide is depicted between the dominant political parties on issues regarding sexual minorities. Nevertheless, some LGBTQ individuals--particularly gay men--continue to identify with the Republican Party, despite its vocal opposition to their sexual identity. These gay Republicans offer a compelling glimpse into an American political system in which compromise is rarely achieved at the party level but is expected of anyone who seeks membership in those parties. That is, individuals who identify with a political party are assumed to accept the entirety of that party's platform, even if that means compromising on some issues. Of course, this creates tension for gay Republicans, who experience marginalization from both communities on the basis of their identification with the other. To better understand the gay Republican experience, this qualitative study draws on in-depth interviews with nine such individuals. Through a process of interpretive analysis, interviews were transcribed and coded to reveal key themes related to political identity, sexual identity, and the ways in which these identities exist congruently. Participants are revealed to harbor a diverse array of perspectives and experiences, thereby collectively challenging the popular notion that one cannot identify as both gay and Republican at this time--2014 to 2015--in American history. Findings are explored with respect to the theoretical concepts of virtual insider status and agonistic pluralism, and hold implications for the ways in which all individuals experience and negotiate identities. Specifically, because of their firsthand experience attempting to pass as virtual insiders within a political party that opposes their equality, most participants have adopted an agonistic, rather than antagonistic, approach to politics. Moreover, they resist popular notions that sexual orientation--or any single identity trait--is a solid base on which to build one's political identity. Ultimately, gay Republicans are shown to be uniquely situated as poster children for participation within an American political sphere based on concession, in which all citizens seem to be working against their interests in one way or another.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-9305 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the School of Communication in partial fulfillment of the Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Spring Semester, 2015.
Date of Defense: April 10, 2015.
Keywords: Gay, Identity, LGBTQ, Politics, Republican
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Donna M. Nudd, Professor Directing Dissertation; Joseph Hellweg, University Representative; Jennifer M. Proffitt, Committee Member; Stephen McDowell, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Sexual minorities
Study and teaching
Political science
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Chouinard, M. S. (M. S. ). (2015). He Leans to the Right: The Personal and Political Identities of Gay Republicans. Retrieved from