Date of Award

8-2005

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

Claire F. Sullivan

Second Committee Member

Kristin M. Langellier

Third Committee Member

Eric E. Peterson

Abstract

Prior research has consistently shown a clear relationship to exist between gender nonconforming behavior, defined as those behaviors, traits, interests, and/or self-perceptions which are stereotypically associated with persons of the other sex in childhood, and the development of a homosexual orientation in adulthood. Researchers have also found GNB in childhood, particularly among boys, to be associated with several negative developmental outcomes for gay men, including lower self-esteem, poor family relations, increased suicidality, attachment anxiety in romantic relationships, and narcissistic symptomatology. Despite these findings, no study has investigated the relationship between childhood GNB and internalized homophobia, a construct shown to be highly associated with low self-esteem in gay men. Furthermore, scholars have theorized and, to a limited extent, revealed the mediating role of relationships with parents on the association between GNB and maladjustment in adulthood. As such, the present thesis had two primary objectives: (a) determine the relationship between childhood GNB and adult internalized homophobia, and (b) assess whether parental relationship quality has a moderating and/or mediating effect between childhood GNB and adult internalized homophobia in gay men. Data did not support a relationship between GNB and internalized homophobia or parental relationship quality. Further analysis of the data indicated a strong inverse relationship between disclosure of sexual orientation to parents and internalized homophobia, suggesting that communication about one's stigmatizing identity, particularly with family members, may help buffer the adverse effects of internalized homophobia. Results, limitations, and directions for future research are also discussed.

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