The Story of Sexual Identity: Narrative Perspectives on the Gay and Lesbian Life Course

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This book assembles a diverse group of scholars working within a new, pathbreaking paradigm of sexual science, fusing perspectives from history, sociology, and psychology. The contributors are united in their commitment to the idea of "narrative" as central to the study of sexual identity, offering an analytic approach to social science inquiry on sexual identity that restores the voices of sexual subjects. The result is a rich examination of lives in context, with an eye toward multiplicity and meaning across the life course. Central to the chapters in this volume is the significance of history, generation, and narrative in the provision of a workable and meaningful configuration of identity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hammack and Cohler's The Story of Sexual Identity brings together an unparalleled collection of innovative interdisciplinary narrative research projects on lesbian and gay lives. The result is a volume that pushes the study of sexual identity in many new and promising directions....It has far-reaching appeal for established students and clinicians, as well as for new investigators and graduate students. No doubt it will be useful tool and much-referenced resource for those conducting narrative research on sexuality and sexual identity."—Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health

"This fine anthology will make a stimulating addition to graduate or undergraduate level courses in any of the disciplines mentioned above, especially those with a substantive focus on sexualities, gay and lesbian/queer studies, or social science methodology. More generally, it will be of interest to anyone who cares to learn more about the promise of narrative methodology and its bountiful implications for the future of social science research." —Sexualities

"This is the book the field of sexual science needs-narratives from a variety of disciplines on the meanings that real people, living in real contexts, make of their same-sex sexuality. Sexual development and its implications are illustrated by stories from around the world, across time and cohort, and among a variety of ethnicities and subcultures. Inevitably, the reader's preexisting notions about same-sex desires will be altered after reading these engaging 19 chapters. Some recount the story of a single individual (a black lesbian youth) and others of a population (three generations of Czech Republic men who have sex with men). In all cases, same-sex desires are shown to generate complex lives characterized more by strength and resilience than pathology. Editors Hammack and Cohler want these narratives to inspire a new generation of social science scholars- and they certainly will.
— Ritch C. Savin-Williams, Department of Human Development, Cornell University

"This book offers new ways to think about sexual identity. For too long we have observed and analyzed identity and desire from the outside. Hammack and Cohler point out that we can shift the lens, and position narratives as central to human development. This book shows us that through stories of desire and identity we not only make meaning of our lives we become engaged in our own development and in social change." — Stephen T. Russell, Professor and Fitch Nesbitt Endowed Chair and Director, University of Arizona

"Phillip Hammack and Bertram Cohler have assembled an extraordinary collection of scholarly essays, empirical reports, and first-person accounts regarding the varieties of lesbian and gay sexual experience across the life course. At the center of this powerful contribution to developmental science and human understanding are stories that will pull at your heart and enliven your mind stories of desire and joy, commitment and fulfillment, but also terror and risk, as they portray how human agency comes to terms with the inscrutable forces that run through each of us, and through our social worlds, to shape our lives as sexual beings." — Dan P. McAdams, author of The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live By and George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream

"The volume offers several chapters that examine how context informs the ways in which gays and lesbians have and are creating, shaping, and reshaping the stories of their sexual identities, illuminating the meaning behind them in an eloquent and in many instances emotionally intimate wayEL.The works contained within this volume have potential to stimulate new insights and research about the sexual identity development of gays and lesbians for years to come-a mark of any good work." — Journal of Marriage and Family

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195326789
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 3/6/2009
  • Series: Sexuality, Identity, and Society Series
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 1,245,471
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. I Time, Place, Story: Introductory Perspectives on Narrative and the Life Course

1 Narrative Engagement and Stories of Sexual Identity: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of Sexual Lives Phillip L. Hammack Hammack, Phillip L. Bertram J. Cohler Cohler, Bertram J. 3

2 History, Narrative, and Sexual Identity: Gay Liberation and Postwar Movements for Sexual Freedom in the United States Benjamin Shepard Shepard, Benjamin 23

Pt. II Culture, Identity, Narrative: Context and Multiplicity in Sexual Lives

3 Stories from the Second World: Narratives of Sexual Identity in the Czech Republic Across Three Generations of Men Who Have Sex with Men Timothy McCajor Hall Hall, Timothy McCajor 51

4 Unity and Purpose at the Intersections of Racial/Ethnic and Sexual Identities Ilan H. Meyer Meyer, Ilan H. Suzanne C. Ouellette Ouellette, Suzanne C. 79

5 Bisexuality in a House of Mirrors: Multiple Reflections, Multiple Identities Paula C. Rodriguez Rust Rust, Paula C. Rodriguez 107

6 Narrative Identity Construction of Black Youth for Social Change Mollie V. Blackburn Blackburn, Mollie V. 131

Pt. III Identities in Process: Stories of Risk and Relationships

7 Between Kansas and Oz: Drugs, Sex, and the Search for Gay Identity in the Fast Lane Steven P. Kurtz Kurtz, Steven P. 157

8 (My) Stories of Lesbian Friendship Jacqueline S. Weinstock Weinstock, Jacqueline S. 177

9 Emergence of a Poz Sexual Culture: Accounting for "Barebacking" Among Gay Men Barry D. Adam Adam, Barry D. 207

10 Connectedness, Communication, and Reciprocity in Lesbian Relationships: Implications for Women's Construction and Experience of PMS Janette Perz Perz, JanetteJane M. Ussher Ussher, Jane M. 223

11 Postcards from the Edge: Narratives of Sex and Relationship Breakdown Among Gay Men Damien Ridge Ridge, Damien Rebecca Wright Wright, Rebecca 251

Pt. IV Making Gay and Lesbian Identities: Development, Generativity, and the Life Course

12 In the Beginning: American Boyhood and the Life Stories of Gay Men Bertram J. Cohler Cohler, Bertram J. 275

13 The Role of the Internet in the Sexual Identity Development of Gay and Bisexual Male Adolescents Gary W. Harper Harper, Gary W. Douglas Bruce Bruce, Douglas Pedro Serrano Serrano, Pedro Omar B. Jamil Jamil, Omar B. 297

14 Focus on the Family: The Psychosocial Context of Gay Men Choosing Fatherhood David deBoer deBoer, David 327

15 Midlife Lesbian Lifeworlds: Narrative Theory and Sexual Identity Mary M. Read Read, Mary M. 347

16 The Good (Gay) Life: The Search for Signs of Maturity in the Narratives of Gay Adults Laura A. King King, Laura A. Chad M. Burton Burton, Chad M. Aaron C. Geise Geise, Aaron C. 375

17 Generativity and Time in Gay Men's Life Stories Andrew J. Hostetler Hostetler, Andrew J. 397

18 From Same-Sex Desire to Homosexual Identity: History, Biography, and the Production of the Sexual Self in Lesbian and Gay Elders' Narratives Dana Rosenfeld Rosenfeld, Dana 425

Pt. V Concluding Perspectives

19 Lives, Times, and Narrative Engagement: Multiplicity and Meaning in Sexual Lives Bertram J. Cohler Cohler, Bertram J. Phillip L. Hammack Hammack, Phillip L. 453

Index 467

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