Class Year

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Honors Designation

High Honors

Department

Sociology and Anthropology

Primary Advisor

Carolyn Hsu

Second Advisor (if necessary)

Meika Loe

Abstract

In this paper, I examine the lived experiences of LGBTQ students in Colgate University through a framework that combine the Communication Theory of Identity with the “inhabited institutions” approach. My goal is to fill a gap in literature, which is missing a comprehensive narrative that makes sense of the lived experiences of all LGBTQ students on a single campus and connects these individual experiences with perceptions of the LGBTQ community as a whole. I conduct and analyze the in-depth interview responses from 15 students who identify as LGBTQ. By using the inhabited institutions approach in tandem with the Communication Theory of Identity, I examine the ways LGBTQ students manage their identities in relation to their perceived LGBTQ campus and how those identity management strategies varied across institutional contexts. The result suggests that my respondents’ identity negotiation experiences emerge as fluid processes often produced through language, interaction, personal self-concepts, and the interplay of power structures between institutions, individuals, and communities. The different ways that students make use of LGBTQ support networks and community spaces within Colgate University’s larger institutional structures, coupled with the intersectional complexities of their own identities, affect the way they negotiate their identities on campus.

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