University of Limerick
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Mapping the reflexive contours of contemporary homosexual lives

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posted on 2022-09-20, 07:40 authored by Vikram Kapoor
LGBTQ people continue to encounter discrimination and atrocities in many societies, even in contemporary times where normalization of homosexuality is alleged to have grown. My study, grounded in anti-gay religious contexts, focuses on reflexivity and aims to contribute new insights into contemporary homosexual lives. More specifically, the study takes place at the intersection of ethnicity, religion, and the lived experiences of middle-aged gay men. It reveals various forms of structural and societal oppression that gay men face, the coping mechanisms they deploy, and the consumption choices they make. As a member of the same marginalized group of gay men that I examine, I also employ my personal experiences to present insights to further understandings of consumer coping and homosexual identity formation. Three articles, two of which are published in Consumption Market & Culture, comprise this PhD thesis. The first two essays offer introspective autoethnographic poetry and dance as methodological contributions. These expressive media are used to surface a gay man’s reflexive, internal deliberations in the social context of religious and other structurally imposed oppression of his homosexuality. In the first study, I present my reflexive, autoethnographic poetry as an example of using arts-based research methods to reveal intersectional effects of religious fundamentalism, the recently scrapped anti-sodomy statute--Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, and heteronormative class-based social structures in India that oppressed LGBTQ people there. I use homosexuality in India as a context and autoethnographic poetry as a method in order to explain the potential of arts-based research methods in intersectionality studies. This chapter primarily demonstrates the use of arts-based research methods (poetry in this study) to reveal the mental and social impacts of intersectional oppression. The second study offers a personal account of how my consumption of a particular dance called Tandava helped me cope with the difficulties of my homosexual identity formation. In contrast to the previous essay that mobilized my discursive reflexivity, in this chapter, I use the non-discursive terrain of sensations. This enables me to access my embodied reflexivity where my understanding of myself unfolds during my engagement with a highly paradoxical form of dance. My reflexive autoethnographic dance account explores how I mobilized dance movements, symbolism, and my visceral embodied dance experience during my internal deliberations to address my homosexual identity issues. Through an evocative personal dance narrative, this chapter pulls attention to the many performance-centric ways of knowing that are themselves marginalized and unrecognized forms of consumption. My dance engagement surpasses the discursivity of language. It reveals much about the existing gender, sexuality, and cultural discourses in marketing and consumer research. Overall, the first two articles in this Ph.D. dissertation primarily make methodological contributions and offer empirical evidence of how introspection acts as a highly effective approach to accessing reflexivity. The third study, foregrounded in the inherently reflexive process of coping, illuminates a possible market-based outcome of the coping process. It examines the lives of single, middle-aged Irish Catholic gay men who were all affected by the institutional religious rejection of homosexuality during their upbringing and subsequent education and careers. The study used an oral history method for data collection to investigate the impact of systemic oppression on Irish gay men, and their response to such oppression through their coping behaviors. In this anti-gay society, participants were found to go through a multi-stage process. It started from hopelessness when they punished themselves and led to their choices of different altruistic careers through which they seemed to gain a sense of redemption. Situated within the existing consumer coping literature, the conceptual focus of this study lies in the choice of a career within market systems and its relationship to the study participants’ coping with the religious oppression of homosexuals. Furthermore, my study reveals how gay men’s altruistic engagements may be the result of coping with structural forces such as the religious oppression of homosexuality. The findings, most importantly, reveal the carryover role of, and growth emanating from, coping. These effects were visible most clearly in the study participants’ choices of their careers.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Hynes, Briga

Second supervisor

Belk, Russell W.

Third supervisor

Hein, Wendy





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