Moving beyond 'a hierarchy of pecs and penises' : how gay and queer men contest, resist, negotiate, and perform masculinity : 219855 research report presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements to the degree of Master of Communication at Massey University, New Zealand

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This narrative inquiry examines the identities and lives of nine gay and queer men living in Wellington, New Zealand as narrated and performed in hour-long semi-structured interviews. Viewing identities as social constructions that are generated through people’s interactions within specific physical and temporal contexts, this research project examines the performative construction of gay and queer masculinity, and the effects of gender and sexuality in the participants’ lives. Through the perspective of a queer male researcher, this project locates gay and queer men within their wider struggles with heteronormativity, and gives voice and privilege to their minority identities and experiences. Narrative analysis of the participants’ stories focuses on how gay and queer individuals navigate their lives as non-normative men who are Othered by traditional, hegemonic and hierarchical masculinity. Viewing identities as unstable and requiring of endless (re)negotiation and (re)performance, this research also examines the complex hierarchical construction of hegemonic homomasculinity by some straight-acting gay men who bolster their own gender performances by Othering femme-presenting individuals. It explores how heteronormative gender constructs and hypermasculine, hypersexual stereotypes affect the lives of the participants, identifying poor self-image, feelings of shameful and inadequate masculinity, and the need for secrecy about their sexuality as key drivers in homomasculine identity development. Additionally, media, pornography and violence are examined as significant in the generation and delayed performance of homomasculine identities. Finally, this research also analyses how some takatāpui and queer-identifying participants negotiate Self with high agency, and perform their identities free of the homohierarchy of traditional, hegemonic gender constructs. By integrating aspects of their gendered, sexual Selves within their identities, queer and takatāpui participants make clear the means by which people with non-normative homomasculine identities may be empowered, liberated and validated as people like all others.
Gay men, New Zealand, Attitudes, Interviews, Psychology, Gender identity, Takatāpui, Tuakiri, Mana ake