Importance of Research
“I proudly announce I’m gay” (Mackey par. 1). NBA player like Jason Collins and Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics admitted to being gay and continued with their career. ‘Openly gay’ is a concept that has evolved recently even in professions that are predominantly follow conservative sexual ethics.
An upsurge in the queer activism from New York, Taipei, to Sydney shows the rise in the awareness and openness with which people are opening up to accepting their sexuality. More and more people are openly talking about their sexuality and do not feel constrained by social concerns to reveal their sexual preferences. As same sex marriages are being accepted in many countries worldwide, and in 27 states in the US, the question that logically emerges is what is the next step for gay activism.
Preliminary research findings demonstrate that gay activism has become rampant in many parts of the world, changing the mindset of the masses considerably. However, there is little known evidence to support the social acceptance and adjustment of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transvestite (LGBT) community.
However, the older generation of gay men and women are not comfortable with the younger generation’s acceptance of their self-identity and revealing their sexual orientation to the world. Thus, there emerges a difference among younger and older generation of LGBTs. Identifying with the gay movement helps in creating a social identity for the LGBT community.
According to the self-determination theory, individuals are motivated when they associate with a group (Ryan and Deci 68). In other words, when the degree of relatedness is high it leads to higher degree of motivation and self-being. Queer activism helped the LGBT community to identify with a sub-culture that helped to shape a different identity through self-determination.
The essential question that is aimed to be answered in the research is how gay activism has helped shape LGBT identity and developed a community amongst themselves. Prior research has concentrated on understanding how the gay community connects with one another to form a unified gay identity; however, little credit has been given to the emergence of queer activism that has helped the community to open up to the world.
The social movement is supposed to generate a shared community that identifies with the social coercion and stereotyping and hence forms solidarity of its own (Epstein 137). Thus, the question that evidently arises is if the queer activism around the globe is helpful to shape the LGBT community’s lifestyle and choices. Does this mean that the LGBT community around the globe can finally be a part of the society without any stigma or fear?
Does it imply that the increased tolerance towards homosexuality shown in most European nations will help to shape the social structure for the LGBT community? Alternatively, will it carve a niche space for the community separate from the ‘normal’ heterosexual, conservative world or would it integrate them openly within the social structure?
I feel the most interesting part of the topic is the perception of acceptance that the LGBT community feels has been brought up due to their pronounced activism and the nature of social development that has taken place to define their place in the society. In order to narrow down the topic to the specific research question, I kept on limiting down my research question until I found a specific question.
The methodology that will be used of the study is qualitative interview and quantitative questionnaire survey of the LGBTs who have taken an active role, supporting role but no active participation, and no role, or support for the activism. This will help us to identify the effect the activism had on the social development of LGBTs.
The strength of the research question is that it shows a different direction to the queer movement as a social movement and its effect on identity creation of the LGBT community. The weaknesses is that it may end up generalizing the question, instead of specifically understanding the effect the activism would have on the social development of the community.
Social Movement Theory
Social movement theory postulates that Prior research on activism and formation of social identity has raised the question of the effect of activism on social development and collective identity formation (Gamson 392). There are various theories that show identity creation through political or social movement.
Bernstein (58) points out to three different approaches with which researchers have tried to explain the process of identity creation through social movement – neo-Marxist, new social movement, and postmodern approaches. Sociologists have devised methods to understand the impact of a social movement in forming collective identity (Polletta and Jasper 296). Researches try to understand how social activism helped in reshaping the collective identity of the community.
Queer Activism and LGBT Identity Discourse
Research into queer activism and identity formation of the LGBT community argues that queer activism uses a victimizing discourse that increases separateness between gay and straight people, thus, creating a separate identity and community (Vivienne and Burgess 553).
Other sociologists believe that a movement that is based on portraying gay people as sexual minority would deviate from the purpose of the movement from social acceptance and assimilation to a new socio-sexual-order (Epstein 155). Cultural difference in the perception and social acceptance of sexuality and sexual deviance also shapes the outcome of the queer activism (Watney 23).
Some believe that queer activism is also a possible reason behind overt heterosexual hatred toward gay community (Herek 12). The victimization discourse of queer activism has led to the disassociation of the LGBT community from the normal youth and hence, creates a sub-community among youths (Hackford-Peer 553).
Using social movement theory and its impact on collective identity, I will try to demonstrate the impact queer activism has/had on the participating member, non-participatory supporters, and non-supporting members of the community.
The readings on queer activism and discourse show how social movement of gay liberation has shaped identity formation and creation of a separate community for LGBTs. All the literature on social movement and identity formation of gay people helps to understand the factors that influence the formation of the idea of a community and how it can take shape among the LGBT population.
Future studies should try to do a case study of queer activism in a particular locality and gauge how the movement affects the LGBT community. For this purpose, interviews, questionnaire survey, and observation would be the tools to understand the nature of development of the community. These methods are the simplest and most widely used methods of social research and hence will help to understand the nature of the community.
The research will provide information for all, as it will help others understand the nature of social development that the LGBT community has undergone. Further, it will help all – heterosexuals and homosexuals – to clearly understand the point of view of the LGBT community. I will try to print the research paper in magazines so that the masses can read the outcome of the research.
Bernstein, Mary. “Identity politics.” Annual Review of Sociology 31 (2005): 47-74. Print.
Epstein, Steven. “Gay politics, ethnic identity: The limits of social constructionism.” Nardi, P. N. and BE Schneider. Social perspectives in lesbian and gay studies: A reader. New York: Routledge, 1998. 134-159. Print.
Gamson, Joshua. “Must Identity Movements Self-Destruct? A Queer Dilemma.” Social Problems 42.3 (1995): 390-407. Print.
Hackford-Peer, Kim. “In the Name of Safety: Discursive Positionings of Queer Youth.” Studies in Philosophy and Education 29.6 (2010): 541–556. Print.
Herek, Gregory M. “Beyond “Homophobia”: Thinking About Sexual Prejudice and Stigma in the Twenty-First Century.” Sexuality Research & Social Policy 1.2 (2004): 6-24. Print.
Mackey, Robert. “Latvian Minister Declares He’s Gay, Exposing Fault Lines of New Culture War in Europe.” 2014. The New York Times. Web.
Polletta, Francesca and James M. Jasper. “Collective identity and social movements.” Annual Review of Sociology (2001): 283-305. Print.
Ryan, Richard M. and Edward L. Deci. “Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being.” American Psychologist 55.1 (2000): 68-78. Print.
Vivienne, Sonja and Jean Burgess. “The Digital Storyteller’s Stage: Queer Everyday Activists Negotiating Privacy and Publicness.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 56.3 (2012): 32–377. Print.
Watney, Simon. “Queer epistomology: activism, ‘outing’, and the politics of sexual identity.” Critical Quaterly 36.1 (2002): 13-27. Print.