Date of Award:

2003

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Kathleen W. Piercy

Abstract

This study explored the peer perceptions of adolescent heterosexual males and their homosexual counterparts who had not disclosed their feelings of erotic same-sex attraction to their classmates. The study focused on members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a conservative Christian denomination with clear doctrinal prohibitions against homosexual behavior. The handwritten messages from peers found in the senior high school yearbooks of 30 heterosexual and 30 same-sex attracted adolescent men were content analyzed to examine similarities and differences in the themes that emerged from the data.

The results indicated that there is a difference in the kind of activities that are common in the lives of these heterosexual and same-sex attracted males. The same-sex attracted men received messages predominately from female peers concerning their talent and themes connected with the arts. The heterosexual men received more of their messages from male peers addressing the topics of sports, recreation, and invitations to engage in shared activities. The research raises questions about the well being of young men who may not identify with most of the dominant images of masculinity available to them. The absence of an adequate cultural script for same-sex attracted youth who must reconcile their sexual feelings with the beliefs of their conservative religious traditions is discussed.

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