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Lesbian transformations in dealing with heterosexism 1995

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LESBIAN TRANSFORMATIONS IN DEALING WITH HETEROSEXISM by Eve Abrams M . A . , Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1986 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Counsel l ing Psychology) We accept th i s thes is as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA December 1995 EVE JOHANNA ABRAMS, 1995 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Department DE-6 (2/88) 11 Abstract Using a grounded theory approach (Strauss & Corbin , 1990), I explored the s trategies that eight lesbians used i n deal ing with heterosexism, or the b e l i e f that a heterosexual o r i e n t a t i o n i s superior to a homosexual or bisexual one. Par t i c ipant s were between the ages of 25 and 40, and had reached a comfortable acceptance of t h e i r sexual i d e n t i t y . In a l l cases, the women's ways of responding to and counteracting heterosexism appear to have become more e f f ec t ive over time. Co l laborat ion with the women enabled me to present three models of "lesbian transformations i n deal ing with heterosexism," each of which bui lds on features from the preceding one. In add i t ion , the information offered by par t i c ipant s has i l luminated the nature of heterosexism, i t s impact on lesb ians ' l i v e s , and some of the factors that make the experience of heterosexist oppression d i f f eren t for i n d i v i d u a l l esb ians . F i n a l l y , the interview mater ia l helped me to draw impl icat ions with regard to counse l l ing lesbians and t r a i n i n g counse l lors . i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract i i Table of Contents i i i L i s t of Figures v i L i s t of Tables . v i i Acknowledgements . . v i i i CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION 1 Research Questions 3 Important Concepts i n my Research 4 Heterosexism 4 Internal ized Homophobia 6 Coming Out 6 Dealing with Heterosexism: Experience of the Researcher . . . 6 CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW 10 Heterosexism: An Overview 10 History of Heterosexism 12 Common Misconceptions about Homosexuality 13 Therapist Att i tudes 14 Who Holds the Most Heterosexist Views? 15 Consequences of Heterosexism 16 Factors Af fec t ing Reaction to Heterosexism 18 Coping with Heterosexism 19 Lesbians' Ways of Coping 22 Toward a Feminist Theory of Coping 23 My Own Research 25 CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY 27 The Par t i c ipants 27 The Procedure 29 C o n f i d e n t i a l i t y and Consent 31 Time, Space, and Equipment 32 About the Grounded Theory Method 33 Trustworthiness of the Method 34 Data Analys i s 36 Assumptions 39 Limi ta t ions of the Study 42 i v CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS 43 Part I: The Experience of Heterosexism 44 D e f i n i t i o n of "Heterosexism" 44 The Phenomenon of Heterosexism • • • • 46 Heterosexual Att i tudes and Responses 46 Condescension and Minimization 47 Overemphasis on Sex 47 Denial 48 Fear 48 The Impact of Heterosexism on Relat ionships 48 Parental Att i tudes 49 Lesbian Motherhood 49 Lesbian Relat ionships 50 Relat ionships with Men 51 The Lesbian Community 52 Culture Gaps 53 The Impact of Heterosexism i n the Work World 53 Career Choice . 53 The Work Environment 54 Psychological Impact of Heterosexism 55 Internal ized Homophobia 55 The Energy Drain • • • • 57 Pos i t ive Ef fec t s of Dealing with Heterosexism 58 Causal and Perpetuating Conditions 59 Intervening Conditions 62 Part I I : Dealing with Heterosexism 65 Toward a Grounded Theory: Two Prel iminary Models 65 Development of Model 1 66 Development of Model 2 71 Model 3 and Statement of Grounded Theory 76 Summary of the Theory 81 Strategies Used i n Dealing with Heterosexism 82 Hiding 82 Preparing to Come Out 85 V Continuing Processes 89 Coming Out 89 Seeking Support 93 Releasing Emotions 96 Ident i fy ing and Working Through Internal ized Homophobia 99 Protect ive Stance 100 Choosing to Ignore 100 Protect ing Se l f and/or Chi ldren 102 Act ive Stance 106 F ight ing Back 106 "No Room i n my L i f e " 109 Proact ive Stance 112 "Take Me or Leave Me" 112 Confronting : i 115 Educating 119 Part I I I : Creating a Nonheterosexist Society 127 Better Education of Chi ldren 127 Equal Treatment i n the Media . . 128 F u l l Legal Rights 129 Publ ic Role Models 129 New Family Structures 129 Explorat ion of Sexuality 130 Greater Numbers of Out Lesbian and Gay People 130 "Acceptance Rather than Tolerance" 131 CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION 133 Signi f icance of the Study 133 Theore t i ca l S igni f icance 133 Implications for Counsel l ing 136 Recommendations for Future Research 142 Summary 144 REFERENCES 146 APPENDICES 151 Appendix A: Orient ing Statement 151 Interview Guide 1 152 Interview Guide 2 153 Appendix B: Recruitment Notice 154 Appendix C: Consent Form 155 v i L i s t of Figures Figure 1. "Hiding" and "Preparing to Come Out" 67 Figure 2 . Model 1: Lesbian Transformations i n Dealing with Heterosexism 68 Figure 3 . Model 2: Lesbian Transformations i n Dealing with Heterosexism 73 Figure 4. Model 3: Lesbian Transformations i n Dealing with Heterosexism 77 L i s t of Tabl Table 1. Components of Model 3 Acknowledgements V l l l I wish to extend my sincere thanks to a l l eight p a r t i c i p a n t - co l laborators for sharing t h e i r s tor ie s and g iv ing t h e i r time, r e f l e c t i o n s , and ideas to th i s study. Because of them, th i s research i s a l i v e and heterosexism i s seen for what i t i s : a "real world" concern rather than an ivory tower one. I would a lso l i k e to thank my advisor , Richard Young, for making d e t a i l e d , he lp fu l suggestions and for being so access ib le and r e l i a b l e . Thanks also to the other members of my advisory committee, Betty Carter and John A l l a n , for t h e i r time, input, and encouragement. F i n a l l y , I warmly acknowledge the many people who supported me i n th i s projec t , inc luding L i n Moody, Catherine Racine, David Col ter john, Karen ColterJohn, and Penny L u s z t i g . Also , spec ia l thanks to Duncan McLean for h i s help with my computer, P r i s c i l l a the Presar io . 1 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION As I near the end of my graduate studies , I prepare for my job search with two types of resume, an "in" resume and an "out" resume. The former represents my closeted s e l f , with such "respectable" work experience as ESL teaching and c r i s i s l i n e counse l l ing; the l a t t e r presents an uncensored vers ion of my work h i s tory , inc luding two years as a volunteer counsel lor at the Vancouver Gay and Lesbian Centre. The reason I need two resumes i s the same as that which motivated me to write th i s thes i s : because heterosexism, or the b e l i e f that heterosexuali ty i s superior to other sexual or i enta t ions , i s s t i l l a powerful force i n soc iety , despite recent gains i n the area of lesbian and gay r i g h t s . Lesbian and gay teens t e l l me i t i s s t i l l extremely r i s k y — i n fac t , dangerous—to come out as homosexual i n high school . And i n the "adult ," working world, I know my l i b e r a l , academic, white, middle-c lass background w i l l not protect me from being barred from jobs i f I indicate that I am a l e sb ian . Because lesbian and gay people are s t i l l punished by society for being who they are, almost twice as many go to therapis ts as do heterosexuals ( H a l l , 1 9 8 5 ) . Many struggle with the internalization of negative at t i tudes toward them, and must work on "unlearning" these at t i tudes i n order to accept themselves as they are. The task en ta i l s a major s h i f t i n perception, to the extent where heterosexist people are seen as 2 having misconceptions, and the s e l f i s no longer viewed as shameful, but i s instead viewed with pride (Cass, 1 9 7 9 ) . Even when such a s h i f t i n perception i s achieved, however, a l esb ian or gay person's struggles continue. Just as being i n the c loset has a cost attached, inc luding fear, i s o l a t i o n , and a sense of shame (Browning, 1 9 8 7 ; Kus, 1 9 9 0 ; Martin & Hetr ick , 1 9 8 8 ) , coming out and being v i s i b l e have costs as we l l : openly i d e n t i f y i n g with a group that i s t y p i c a l l y derogated by society means having to f ind ways to l i v e with i n t e g r i t y i n the face of treatment that ranges from subtle shunning to exclusion by law, from verbal "digs" to phys ica l attack. In order to help lesbian and gay c l i e n t s , counsel lors must themselves be thoroughly f a m i l i a r with issues that af fect th i s populat ion. At the same time, each person's struggle must be seen as unique. Sue and Zane ( 1 9 8 5 ) caution counsel lors against assuming that c l i e n t s within the same minority group hold the same values and viewpoints as one another, or that they have had the same experiences. Therapy that takes place under such assumptions i s u n l i k e l y to be e f f e c t i v e . Therapists may overlook both environmental circumstances and personal i ty d i f ferences , seeing c l i e n t s as stereotypes rather than as an i n d i v i d u a l s . The same dynamic also sometimes happens between researchers and minority par t i c ipant s (Herek, Kimmel, Amaro, & Melton, 1 9 9 1 ) . In researching how lesbians dealt with heterosexism, I expected that the lesbians I interviewed would come up with a 3 d i v e r s i t y of approaches and s trategies that re f l ec ted t h e i r unique se lves . However, I a lso bel ieved there would be aspects of the experience of deal ing with s o c i e t a l prejudice that would be common to most, i f not a l l , the lesbians i n my sample. Therefore, by using Strauss and Corbin's (1990) grounded theory- method, I undertook to construct a model of how lesbians deal with heterosexism that would be inc lus ive of many d i f f eren t s trategies and approaches, yet r e f l e c t some common themes. Research Questions The goal of my research was to a r r i v e at a theory, grounded i n p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experiences, of how lesbians deal with heterosexism. This theory would be presented by means of a model r e f l e c t i n g the s trategies and approaches the women described. It would be enhanced by se t t ing forth condit ions , derived from data, under which heterosexism i s experienced. The fol lowing research questions guided my inves t iga t ion: 1. What meaning does the term "heterosexism" hold for the lesbians i n my study? 2. What are some shared aspects of the experience of heterosexism? 3. What contextual var iables make the experience of heterosexism d i f f erent for i n d i v i d u a l lesbians? 4. What s trategies or approaches have par t i c ipant s used to deal with heterosexism? 5. Do these s trategies or approaches change over time? I f 4 so, how? By asking par t i c ipant s about instances of heterosexism they had experienced, and incorporat ing questions s i m i l a r to 1, 4, and 5 above (see Appendix A) , I bel ieved a p ic ture would emerge regarding both the impact of heterosexism on lesbians ' l i v e s , and how they deal with th i s form of prejudice . This information would be relevant to counsel l ing i n several ways. F i r s t , i t would help counsel lors understand what heterosexism i s , and to recognize both overt and subtle ways i t manifests i t s e l f . Second, i t would include e f fec t ive s trategies for deal ing with heterosexism that counsel lors could keep i n mind when working with lesbian c l i e n t s . And f i n a l l y , I hoped the information gained from th i s research would a s s i s t counsel lors themselves to counter heterosexism, both i n t h e i r surroundings and i n t h e i r own i n t e r n a l i z e d at t i tudes toward homosexuals. Important Concepts i n my Research Heterosexism. Over the past 15 years, the word "homophobia" has most often been used to denote prejudice held by heterosexuals toward homosexuals or bisexuals . The word was popularized by Weinberg (1972), who used i t to al lude to both the fear f e l t by heterosexuals around people they bel ieved to be homosexual and the se l f -hatred f e l t by homosexuals as a resu l t of the negative at t i tudes toward them. Hudson and Ricketts (1980) point out that to emphasize mainly the "fear" aspect of th i s phenomenon i s to overlook the cognit ive 5 react ions people may have as a re su l t of c u l t u r a l , moral, or l ega l views. They prefer the term "homonegativity" to account for both cognit ive and a f fec t ive responses. While I f ind th i s term more accurate, i t may s t i l l be too r e s t r i c t i v e , since i t l i m i t s the focus to negative a t t i tudes (Herek, 1984) without taking into account the o r i g i n of these at t i tudes or t h e i r wide-ranging impl i ca t ions . S i m i l a r l y with Fyfe ' s (1983) term "homosexual b ia s ," the emphasis i s on the r e c i p i e n t of the prejudice rather than on those who hold the prejudice (Neisen, 1990). So f a r , I have found the term that best describes the phenomenon i n question to be "heterosexism." The "heterosex-" part of the word i d e n t i f i e s the source of the prejudice; the "-ism" part a l igns heterosexism with other types of i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d d i scr iminat ion , such as racism and sexism. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the suf f ix "-ism" denotes a system, e i ther of theory or of prac t i ce , as wel l as a doctrine or p r i n c i p l e . As such, "heterosexism" implies a doctr ine or pr inc ip l e—along with resul tant at t i tudes and behaviour—that holds heterosexuality to be superior to homosexuality (Neisen, 1990). This p r i n c i p l e i s embedded i n our s o c i e t a l system, and manifests i t s e l f i n such i n s t i t u t i o n s as the law, which does not permit lesbians and gay men to marry, organized r e l i g i o n , which seldom allows lesbians and gay men to become r e l i g i o u s leaders, and sometimes bars them from the r e l i g i o u s community, and the media, which often ignores t h e i r 6 existence or portrays only stereotypes. Internal ized homophobia. This term refers to the i n t r o j e c t i o n , by lesbians and gay men, of soc ie ty ' s negative at t i tudes and assumptions about homosexuality. I do not use the term " interna l i zed heterosexism," because I agree with Neisen (1990) that "heterosexism" s i g n i f i e s power held by one group over another, and those with no access to th i s power cannot i n t e r n a l i z e i t . Instead, homosexuals i n t e r n a l i z e shame or s e l f - hatred due to heterosexism. Coming out. "Coming out" refers to a person's emerging awareness of same-sex a t t r a c t i o n , and the eventual recogni t ion of a lesbian or gay i d e n t i t y . There are commonly thought to be two "levels" of th i s process: coming out to oneself , and coming out to others . The fol lowing i s Cohen and Ste in 's (1986) descr ip t ion of the coming out process: Coming out involves stepping out of the metaphorical c loset where one's homosexuality has been hidden from others and poss ibly from oneself . A p a r a l l e l process i s not poss ible for a person who i s heterosexual simply because there i s not a need to hide heterosexual i ty i n th i s soc ie ty . Thus, i n coming out, the gay man or l esb ian often must disown or reclaim disowned or devalued parts of the s e l f . (p. 32) Dealing with Heterosexism: Experience of the Researcher I am s t i l l i n the process, myself, of experimenting with ways of deal ing with heterosexism. Although I f ee l proud that I have had the courage to l i v e as a l e sb ian , th i s courage has not always trans lated i t s e l f into act ive or creat ive ways of deal ing with d i s cr iminat ion . The "don't-rock-the-boat" ro le I 7 have always held i n my family has probably prevented me from meeting th i s challenge proact ive ly ; i n add i t ion , since much of my young adulthood was spent coping with i l l n e s s and surger ies , I mistakenly bel ieved my lesbian ident i ty was not a very important concern. I r e a l i z e i n retrospect that I d id suffer from the e f fects of i n t e r n a l i z e d homophobia, and d id use what would r i g h t l y be termed "coping s trateg ies ." The f i r s t kind of coping behaviour I engaged i n was s i l ence . This prevented me from being treated as an outcast i n high school , but at the cost of not reveal ing a major part of my ident i ty even to my close f r i ends . When I was twenty, I wrote a l e t t e r to a male fr iend—the only other person I knew was homosexual—asking for advice about how to meet other lesbians without my family f inding out. Perhaps at h i s prompting, I sought out a lesbian "rap group," which met i n a dark, shabby room behind a women's bookstore and had a downtrodden fee l ing to i t that only served to amplify my sense of a l i e n a t i o n . It was not u n t i l nine years l a t e r that I joined a lesbian community and came to understand the value of developing bonds with other lesbians . In more recent years, I have discovered many ways of contr ibut ing to r a i s i n g awareness of heterosexism and helping people to overcome i t s e f fec t s . I have spoken to c r i s i s l i n e volunteers about being a l e sb ian , and have given presentations on lesbian and gay issues i n my counsel l ing c lasses . I have joined the Gay and Lesbian Educators of B . C . , a group that 8 attempts to educate teachers and counsel lors about gay and lesbian issues; I have attended PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meetings, joined gay pride parades, and volunteered on a gay and lesbian phone l i n e . I have run coming out groups and counselled at the Gay and Lesbian Centre, where I often worked with lesbians and gay men who were beginning to overcome t h e i r fears—often while d iscovering t h e i r anger—and assert t h e i r sexual i d e n t i t y . Yet, I was s t i l l anxious about a reunion of my extended family i n C a l i f o r n i a l a s t June. Nearly a l l my a c t i v i t i e s i n the year leading up to i t had been l inked to lesbian and gay issues: my practicum, my coming out groups, my proposal for th i s thes i s . For th i s reason, i n a t y p i c a l conversation where I was f i r s t meeting someone, I was out of the c loset within about three minutes. How would people react when I t o l d them about the a c t i v i t i e s I was engaged in? Which of them already knew I was a lesbian? Would any of them be shocked? Host i l e? Condescending? I was sure I would not want to hide key facts about my l i f e for the sake of other people's comfort. Therefore, my primary concern was the amount of energy I would have to put into deal ing with my own emotions i f I got negative react ions . I was secondari ly concerned about "losing i t " and "blasting" someone—possibly as the r e s u l t of a l i f e t i m e of holding i n rage—and the ef fect th i s response would have on my re la t ionsh ips with my c loser r e l a t i v e s . In the end, I took a 9 "take me or leave me" stance, keeping i n mind the p o s s i b i l i t y that I might need to confront people about t h e i r a t t i tudes . In th i s p a r t i c u l a r case, confrontat ion was unnecessary. The point i s , however, that lesbians often spend energy s t ra teg i z ing i n such s i tuat ions (as do gay men). A woman i n a lesbian re la t i onsh ip would probably f ind th i s s i t u a t i o n even more problematic: Should I br ing my partner? W i l l she want to attend? If she does come with me, how should I introduce her? She i s n ' t just my "friend"! What i f people are rude to her? The more open we are about who we are and what we do, the more we w i l l have to contend with questions l i k e those above. My own a b i l i t y to deal with heterosexism i s uneven, depending on who I am deal ing with. Someday, I may f ind the courage to address a c lass of high school students on the topic of l e sb ian and gay issues (and therefore heterosexism), yet I do not know i f I w i l l ever be able to reply calmly and ed i fy ing ly to a h u r t f u l remark made by a r e l a t i v e . For other women, the reverse might be true . Prec i se ly because lesbians have d i f f erent strengths i n th i s regard, I think i t important for us to share our experiences, and contribute the wisdom we have gained to the ongoing s truggle . 1 0 CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW In th i s chapter, I w i l l provide some background to the problem of heterosexism, inc luding a h i s t o r i c a l overview, common myths and misunderstandings about homosexuality, therapis t a t t i tudes , and c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of those l i k e l y to hold heterosexist views. I w i l l then review the l i t e r a t u r e on the consequences of heterosexism, and the factors that af fect a homosexual person's response to i t . Next, I w i l l look at the l i t e r a t u r e on coping with a stigmatized sexual i d e n t i t y , and the suggestions for therapists that have been made to date. Following t h i s , I w i l l discuss feminist ways of conceiving "coping," and introduce my choice of study design and methodology. F i n a l l y , I w i l l explain the nature of the contr ibut ion I intend th i s study to make. Heterosexism: An Overview Despite some important signs of improvement i n general a t t i tudes toward homosexuals i n recent years—such as the welcoming of lesbians and gay men into some r e l i g i o u s communities, the o f f er ing of gay and lesbian studies at some u n i v e r s i t i e s , and the granting of survivor pension for partners i n a few landmark cases—heterosexism i s s t i l l , unfortunately , a potent and widespread force i n soc ie ty . Beran, Claybaker, D i l l o n , and Haverkamp ( 1 9 9 2 ) found, i n a study of a t t i tudes toward s ix oppressed groups i n which 324 pr imar i ly white, 11 middle c lass Americans were randomly selected and p o l l e d , that the respondents gave the highest l e v e l of support to women, followed by Jews, then blacks, then a l c o h o l i c s . Results of th i s study showed that support for gay people was higher only than support for communists—except i n opinions about access to c i v i l r i g h t s , where 70% approved of parental custody for communists, but only 40%, for homosexuals. Not s u r p r i s i n g l y , s i m i l a r heterosexist at t i tudes can be found among the high school populat ion. In a survey of 402 American secondary school students, 64% said they would be upset or a f r a i d i f people thought they were gay, l e sb ian , or b i sexua l . Seventeen percent were not sure how they would react , while only 19% said they would not mind. When asked, "How often do you hear anti-gay or a n t i - l e s b i a n remarks made at your high school?" 43% r e p l i e d "often," and 51%, "sometimes," with only 6% rep ly ing "never." Although some students expressed the opinion that d i scr iminat ion against homosexuals was wrong, others offered such comments as "I hate them" and " . . . just keep them out of my s ight and away from me" (Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, 1993, p. 196). This i s not to imply that American at t i tudes are necessar i ly less progressive than Canadian ones. The federal government has yet to add a "sexual or i en ta t ion clause" to the Canadian Human Rights Act . Lesbian and gay people are far from a t ta in ing the r i g h t to l e g a l l y marry i n Canada, and many large , nat ional companies s t i l l do not o f fer same-sex benef i t s . 1 2 Repeated bomb threats made to a Vancouver gay and lesbian bookstore, i n combination with a r b i t r a r y seizure by Canada Customs o f f i c i a l s of materials being shipped to th i s same store , provide examples of how homosexuals have been harassed. Melton (1989) describes the se l f -perpetuat ing nature of heterosexism. He gives as an example a ru le that has only very recent ly been abolished i n the U.S. and Canada: that of denying gay people the r i g h t to serve i n the m i l i t a r y on the grounds that they would, i n the words of an American Army regula t ion , undermine "the a b i l i t y of the armed forces to maintain d i s c i p l i n e , good order, and morale" (p. 939): . . . because they are barred from service i n the Nation's m i l i t a r y , homosexuals become stigmatized as "deviants," and are viewed i n terms of undesirable stereotypes. This process resu l t s i n and re inforces prejudice . . . against homosexuals by many heterosexual people, (p. 935) Thus the cycle continues, p a r t i c u l a r l y when i t can be seen that "even the author i t i es" condone such views. History of Heterosexism These modern at t i tudes have a long h i s t o r y . In s i x t h century Western society , homosexuals were thought to be responsible for plagues, famines, and other natural d i sas t er s , and were hunted down and k i l l e d during times of c r i s i s . In the medieval per iod, same-sex attachments were associated with witchcraft (Fassinger, 1991). In C h r i s t i a n i t y , gay and lesb ian sexual behaviour has t r a d i t i o n a l l y been seen as a s in against nature. In most other r e l i g i o n s , homosexuality i s a lso proscr ibed. In psychiatry , i t was long seen as a mental 13 i l l n e s s ; not u n t i l 1973 d id the American Psych ia tr i c Assoc iat ion remove homosexuality from i t s categories of pathology. An important precursor to th i s dec is ion was the research done by Hooker (1957, i n Melton, 1989) that determined that gay and heterosexual men could not be dis t inguished from each other on the basis of t h e i r resu l t s on standard psychological tes t s , and that there was no greater degree of pathology among the gay group than among the heterosexual group. Also i n f l u e n t i a l were the published resu l t s of the Kinsey study i n which people's same-sex behaviour, thoughts, and feel ings were found to be located anywhere along a heterosexual-to-homosexual continuum— regardless of whether they claimed to be homosexual, heterosexual, or bisexual (McWhirter, Sanders, & Reinisch, 1990). Common Misconceptions about Homosexuality Numerous harmful myths about homosexuality s t i l l pervade the publ ic arena as wel l : for instance, the notion that gay men must be "effeminate" and lesbians , "masculine" (Kus, 1990), or the b e l i e f that homosexuality i s "unnatural" because i t does not involve reproduction. There also exis ts a harmful b e l i e f that gay men w i l l molest c h i l d r e n , as well as a mistaken idea that homosexual parents w i l l make t h e i r ch i ldren homosexual. In addi t ion , many s t i l l consider those with a gay or lesb ian or i en ta t ion to be s i n f u l or mentally disturbed (Melton, 1989). Other destruct ive misconceptions are that lesbians and gay 14 men are promiscuous by nature and therefore incapable of s table r e l a t i o n s h i p s , that they wish to r e c r u i t and convert others (Melton, 1989), that a neurotic family environment causes homosexuality, that homosexuality can be reversed at w i l l (Goggin, 1993), that gay men and lesbians choose t h e i r or i en ta t ion as a refuge from the opposite sex, that they make poor parents, and that they are lonely people with nothing to o f fer society ( G r i f f i n , Wirth, & Wirth, 1986). Perhaps the most damning myth of a l l , however, i s that which i s conveyed to homosexual adolescents: that lesbian and gay teenagers do not ex i s t . When young people show an i n c l i n a t i o n toward a gay or lesbian o r i e n t a t i o n , they are t y p i c a l l y t o l d by adults that they are simply "going through a phase," an idea that the youth themselves sometimes seize on (Savin-Wil l iams, 1990). The t r a d i t i o n a l psychodynamic view supports th i s idea, as when a p s y c h i a t r i s t writes of "an allowable homosexuality . . . which, under favourable circumstances, i s gradual ly replaced by heterosexual development" (Robinson, 1980, i n Savin-Wil l iams, p. 207). Such a notion only causes more anxiety i n adolescents, who come to think that anything other than "temporary" homosexuality must be unnatural , s ince i t i s so obviously not al lowable. Therapist Att i tudes Although headway has been made i n chal lenging heterosexist at t i tudes i n the mental health care f i e l d (Morin & Rothblum, 1991), a American study found that more than 20% of p r a c t i s i n g 1 5 therapis ts s t i l l treat homosexuality as a mental i l l n e s s (Pope, Tabachnick, & Ke i th -Sp iege l , 1987). In another, even more recent study, only 5% of a sample of 2,544 psychologists (85% of whom i d e n t i f i e d as heterosexual) reported a "gay- aff irmative" approach to therapy (Garnets, Hancock, Cochran, Goodchilds, & Peplau, 1991). Who Holds the Most Heterosexist Views? Some research has been done regarding which people i n our society tend t o hold the most heterosexist a t t i tudes . An inverse re la t i onsh ip has been found between strongly heterosexist ind iv idua l s and the degree to which they knowingly interacted with gay men and lesbians (Staats, 1978). In his l i t e r a t u r e survey on at t i tudes toward lesbians and gay men, Herek (1984) c i t e s the fol lowing f indings: people with negative at t i tudes toward homosexuals are less l i k e l y to have engaged i n same-sex behaviour themselves (Weis & Dain, 1979), are more l i k e l y to have l i v e d i n regions where heterosexism i s prevalent ( e . g . , the midwestern and southern United States, the Canadian p r a i r i e s , and i n small towns or r u r a l a r e a s ) — p a r t i c u l a r l y during adolescence (Whitehead & Metzger, 1981), are l i k e l y to be older and to have less formal education (Snyder & Spre i t zer , 1976), and are more l i k e l y to embrace a conservative r e l i g i o u s ideology (Larsen, Cate, & Reed, 1983). Indiv iduals with heterosexist viewpoints and reactions are also more l i k e l y to hold t r a d i t i o n a l at t i tudes about gender ro l e s , have more g u i l t about sex, and be more author i tar ian i n personal i ty s t y l e . 16 Consequences of Heterosexism From the standpoint of lesbians and gays, there i s much to lose , inc luding many things that heterosexual people take for granted. D i sc los ing one's or i en ta t ion can mean d i srupt ion of family r e l a t i o n s h i p s , ranging from temporary r i f t s to complete c u t - o f f s . It can also mean the loss of such heterosexual p r i v i l e g e s as marriage, c h i l d r e n , custody r i g h t s , and next-of- k in r i g h t s . It can jeopardize a r e l a t i o n s h i p that one or both sets of parents are h o s t i l e toward, or refuse to acknowledge. I t can r e s u l t i n being shunned by one's r e l i g i o u s community. I t can threaten one's employment s i t u a t i o n (Ri t t er & O ' N e i l l , 1989). I t can also lead to a decrease i n phys ica l safety. Ninety-two percent of gay men and lesbians report having been threatened or verba l ly abused because of t h e i r homosexuality, while over one t h i r d have been vict ims of violence for th i s reason (Fassinger, 1991). Other losses are perhaps not as obvious, although they can be at l east as acute. These include loss of self-esteem, lack of pos i t i ve ro le models with whom to ident i fy ( p a r t i c u l a r l y i n adolescence), and the absence of a p u b l i c l y s a n c t i f i e d r e l a t i o n s h i p (Coleman, 1982; Lewis, 1984). Some people a lso f ee l that they have l o s t time—often many years of t h e i r l i f e ; that i s , the time i t took them e i ther to recognize t h e i r sexual or i en ta t ion or to gather the courage to d i sc lose t h e i r gay or lesbian id en t i ty to others. Unlike heterosexuals, those who are i n the process of 17 r e a l i z i n g they are gay or lesbian do not have the secur i ty of knowing that th i s ident i ty w i l l be va l idated or accepted. E s p e c i a l l y for teenagers, the r e a l i z a t i o n can be devastat ing: while the l i v e s of t h e i r fr iends centre on the excitement of get t ing to know members of the opposite sex, they fee l completely i s o l a t e d . Moreover, lesbians and gays do not usual ly have homosexual parents, r e l a t i v e s , or fr iends to help them ant ic ipate the hardships they w i l l meet i n the s o c i a l i z a t i o n process (Kus, 1990). Therefore, the common taunts of "dyke," " lezz ie ," " f a i r y , " or "faggot," when aimed at those coming of age i n th i s context, can be p a r t i c u l a r l y damaging. In add i t ion , the fear of parents discovering one's secret can cause profound self-doubt and anxiety: It i s one thing to rebel against parental values—that i s understood and accepted to some degree i n our culture—but what the young lesbian ant ic ipates or fears . . . i s parental r e j ec t i on of her personhood and the subsequent destruct ion of her re la t ionsh ip with them. (Browning, 1987, p. 48) Browning's statement i l luminates the reason homosexuals often react with shock or denia l when they begin to discover t h e i r sexual o r i e n t a t i o n . The. r e a l i z a t i o n that they r i s k foregoing the acceptance and approval of others due to negative at t i tudes toward them often leads to shame and s e l f - h a t r e d . Neisen (1993) refers to heterosexism as "cu l tura l v i c t i m i z a t i o n , " and points out that those suf fer ing from i t show some of the same effects as vict ims of sexual abuse: s e l f - blame, shame, s e l f - d i r e c t e d anger, and helplessness . For youth, th i s can lead to substance abuse, depression, dropping out of 18 school , and c o n f l i c t e d re la t ionsh ips with family and f r i ends . Many teenage male pros t i tutes are gay youth who have been expelled from t h e i r homes (Hetrick & Mart in , 1987). More than 50% of lesbian and gay youth experience severe depression with su ic ide ideat ion (Gibson, 1994). Factors Af fec t ing Reaction to Heterosexism The -degree to which lesbians and gay men are affected by heterosexism depends on many fac tors . On the s o c i e t a l l e v e l , geographic l oca t ion , s o c i a l c las s , and ethnic background may a l l be factors (Shidlo, 1994). On the f a m i l i a l l e v e l , the degree of heterosexism adhered to by parents and other close family members has been seen to make a di f ference (Nungesser, 1983), and on the i n d i v i d u a l l e v e l , p a r t i c u l a r needs and defensive s trategies af fect each person d i f f e r e n t l y (Malyon, 1982). Other i n d i v i d u a l var iables that have been c i t e d are personal i ty type, age at f i r s t awareness of d i f ference , o v e r a l l psychological heal th , r e l i g i o u s upbringing, and negative or traumatic experiences invo lv ing sexual or i en ta t ion (Hanley- Hackenbruck, 1988b). Paul (1984) suggests that men tend to have more intense negative fee l ings about being homosexual than do women, p a r t l y because of the harsher p r o s c r i p t i o n against "nonmasculine" behaviour i n men than "nonfeminine" behaviour i n women i n western soc iety , and p a r t l y because men tend not to have networks of supportive fr iends i n the way women do. However, Riddle and Sang (1978) contend that sex-role 19 stereotyping has a strong negative impact on lesbians . Women have tended to define themselves i n terms of acceptance by others . This can make growing up more pa in fu l for a g i r l who feels herse l f to be d i f f eren t because of a lesbian o r i e n t a t i o n . Moreover, women are often s o c i a l i z e d to f ee l g u i l t y about sexual fee l ings i n general; they may therefore hes i tate to explore an "alternative" sexual i ty for fear of being l a b e l l e d promiscuous or del inquent. Coping with Heterosexism Much of the psychotherapy l i t e r a t u r e on lesbian and gay themes i s about "coping with a stigmatized sexual ident i ty" (as though i t were the ident i ty i t s e l f that were the problem), and tends to focus on negative coping s tra teg ies . For youth, who usual ly discover t h e i r lesbian or gay ident i ty i n i s o l a t i o n and with no knowledge of pos i t ive ro le models, s trategies such as d e n i a l , withdrawal, ident i fy ing with the oppressor group, and attacking members of one's own group may seem to be the only ones ava i lab le (Martin & Hetr ick , 1988). Troiden (1989) d e t a i l s what he c a l l s "stigma evasion techniques," almost a l l of which are examples of negative coping as we l l . Among these are "repa ir ," or out and out attempts to e l iminate same-sex fee l ings and behaviour, avoidance or den ia l , and escape through drugs and a l coho l . He c a l l s another strategy (the only p o s i t i v e one) "acceptance." He does not attempt to speculate on which s o c i e t a l or i n d i v i d u a l factors might predispose a person to choose which s trateg ies ; nor does he attempt to d i s t i n g u i s h the 20 male experience from the female one, even though these are quite d i f f erent (de Monteflores & Schultz , 1978; Fassinger, 1991; Rich , 1980). Cain (1991) reports on interviews with 38 gay men regarding why they do or do not d i sc lose t h e i r sexual i d e n t i t y . Here, more pos i t ive s trategies emerge, such as the reve la t ion of one's gayness i n order to try to change the heterosexist at t i tudes of cer ta in i n d i v i d u a l s , to contribute to s o c i a l change through education, or to make oneself a v i s i b l e ro le model for gay people who are s t i l l s truggl ing with t h e i r sexual i d e n t i t y . Nondisclosure appears i n some cases to be an act ive rather than passive coping strategy, such as when the cost of reve la t ion i s appraised as too great, or when one chooses to claim the same r i g h t to privacy about sexual or i en ta t ion that heterosexuals have. In an a r t i c l e on gay men and the prac t i ce of "passing" as heterosexual, Berger (1992) concedes that passing may be necessary for rece iv ing even a minimal degree of support i n an environment where heterosexist at t i tudes are deeply entrenched. Cass (1979) describes the process of reaching acceptance of a lesbian or gay ident i ty as that of becoming aware of oneself as an acceptable human being despite soc ie ty ' s r e j e c t i o n of homosexuality. Hanley-Hackenbruck (1988b) describes th i s c r u c i a l perception switch: Gradual ly , one r e a l i z e s that the myths, stereotypes, and negative at t i tudes toward homosexuality are what do not make sense rather than the fee l ings , experiences, and the sexual i ty i t s e l f : "Yes, I am a good, healthy person 21 and I am a homosexual." (p. 30) Accompanying th i s r e a l i z a t i o n are the tasks of def in ing new values and standards contrary to one's upbringing and developing a new s o c i a l as well as sexual iden t i ty (Hanley- Hackenbruck, 1988a). Sophie (1986) notes, however, that not a l l women reach th i s po int . F o r example, some simply r e f r a i n from i d e n t i f y i n g themselves as lesbians even though they have female partners . The issue of heterosexism i s here sidestepped by dec l in ing a l a b e l that could e l i c i t d e r i s i o n . Even for people who accept the l a b e l , considerable compromises are commonly made when much i s at stake. Brown (1988) discusses ways i n which lesbians and gays sometimes deal with t h e i r fami l ies of o r i g i n , so as not to be cut o f f by family members. These include maintaining geographic and emotional distance, or adhering to an unspoken agreement not to ta lk about t h e i r personal l i v e s . In the l a t t e r s i t u a t i o n , a lesbian or gay man's partner i s often euphemist ical ly re ferred to as a "friend" or "roommate." In another common scenario, a gay man or lesbian has come out to one parent or s i b l i n g who i s supportive, but with the understanding that some other family member i s not to be t o l d . The lesbian or gay person may then be seen as the "cause" of s t r i f e a r i s i n g from family secrets . Lesbians' Ways of Coping In an a r t i c l e that discusses lesbians ' ways of "integrat ing a stable i d e n t i t y , " Lewis (1984) discusses the 22 importance of re la t ionsh ips and community to lesbians , e spec ia l ly when they f i r s t come out. Perhaps more often than gay men, lesbians tend to form a l t ernat ive fami l ies s ince , as women, a f ee l ing of relatedness i s cruc ia l—and i n cases where lesbians have been rejected for t h e i r sexual i ty , these c lose fr iendships can form a buffer against the r e s u l t i n g pain and i s o l a t i o n . Some women, def in ing themselves as separat i s t s , choose to l i v e i n a l l - female communities. This way, they can gain a sense of freedom and independence. They can also develop strengths and s k i l l s t r a d i t i o n a l l y thought to belong to men, and thus f ee l empowered. Sophie (1987) suggests a number of techniques that can be used by therapis ts to help lesbians cope with fee l ings of shame and fear due to i n t e r n a l i z e d homophobia. Among these are: "cognitive r e s t r u c t u r i n g , " cons i s t ing of chal lenging the negative stereotypes of lesbians that c l i e n t s may hold; helping c l i e n t s to f ind pos i t i ve ro le models; encouraging c l i e n t s to postpone g iv ing themselves a sexual l abe l during t h e i r explorat ion process, e spec ia l ly while the term "lesbian" s t i l l has negative connotations for them; g iv ing c l i e n t s prac t i ce i n s e l f - d i s c l o s u r e v i a such techniques as ro le play and "empty chair"; suggesting reading materials that contain v a l i d a t i n g images of lesbians; and encouraging c l i e n t s to seek support and v a l i d a t i o n within the lesbian community. 23 Toward a Feminist Theory of Coping In an a r t i c l e e n t i t l e d Can women cope?, Banyard and Graham- Bermann (1993) express a need for new ways of conceptual iz ing coping. The authors point out that the a b i l i t y to cope i s not simply due to such var iables as the kind of s tressor involved, or how accurately one appraises one's coping e f f icacy (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), but also to a number of factors beyond an i n d i v i d u a l ' s c o n t r o l , such as whether one has power i n a p a r t i c u l a r s o c i a l context. According to mainstream coping theories , c e r t a i n types of coping, such as "avoidance coping," are considered maladaptive no matter what the s i t u a t i o n , while others, such as c o l l e c t i v e coping to gain group empowerment, are not discussed at a l l . Smith (1990) r e f l e c t s on how theory i n general tends to become divorced from i t s o r i g i n : the r e a l events that give r i s e to data. So-ca l led "object iv i ty" acts as a mask that obscures what ac tua l ly takes place . Hence a term l i k e "coping" may come to seem l i k e a known ent i ty as long as cer ta in of i t s var iab les are measured q u a n t i t a t i v e l y . However, "coping occurs i n a context shaped by s o c i a l forces based on gender, race, c l a s s , age, and sexual or ientat ion" (Banyard & Graham-Bermann, 1993, p. 311), and measuring the impact of these forces on a person i s beyond the power of any sca le . Feminist theory dispenses with the notion of object ive truth arr ived at through observation or i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , and instead places emphasis on empir ica l knowledge (Al len & Baber, 24 1992; Landrine, Klonoff , & Brown-Col l ins , 1992; Lykes & Stewart, 1986; Oakley, 1981). What th i s means i n p r a c t i c a l terms for research i s that much weight i s given to the subject ive r e a l i t y of the par t i c ipant s (Hunnisett, 1986; Reinharz, 1992), often by e l i c i t i n g t h e i r s tor ie s and inc lud ing verbatim segments of these i n the f i n a l text of the study. In e f fec t , the mater ia l derived from the par t i c ipant s is the data, and in terpre ta t ion by the researcher i s minimal. Moreover, the par t i c ipant s are included i n the project as co l laborators ; they are consulted about any patterns, schemas, or conclusions a r r i v e d at by the i n i t i a t o r of the research. In instances where the researcher has paraphrased or interpreted t h e i r speech, they are asked for v e r i f i c a t i o n . One study that r e f l e c t s th i s approach was recent ly conducted by Morrow and Smith (1995), who interviewed 11 survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The study was comprised of in-depth interviews, a 10-week focus group, subsequent member checking, and co l laborat ive ana lys i s , along with the use of documentation derived from the l i t e r a t u r e i n the area. The s t a r t i n g point for the inves t igat ion was the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' own d e f i n i t i o n s of s u r v i v a l and coping. Then, i n answering just two open-ended questions ("Tel l me, as much as you fee l comfortable sharing with me r ight now, what happened to you when you were sexually abused," and "What are the primary ways i n which you survived?"), the women re la ted t h e i r experiences. From the s t o r i e s , a t h e o r e t i c a l model of coping with childhood sexual 25 abuse was developed, based on Strauss and Corbin's (1990) grounded theory, framework. Included i n the model were formulations of context, intervening condit ions that affected choice of coping strategy, the s trategies themselves, and the consequences of employing them. My Own Research My study i s somewhat s i m i l a r to the one just described, though l i m i t s on time d ic tated a smaller sample s ize and omission of an ongoing focus group. However, a one-time focus group was used for get t ing par t i c ipant v a l i d a t i o n . Like Morrow and Smith (1995), I used Strauss and Corbin's (1990) grounded theory approach, i n which a theory i s arr ived at induct ive ly from the data on the phenomenon studied. The grounded theory method seemed p a r t i c u l a r l y suited to a feminist framework, i n that i t values the subject ive r e a l i t i e s of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , and makes them the prime—in fact , the only—source of knowledge. I intended th i s research to move beyond the kind of t h e o r e t i c a l a r t i c l e offered by Lewis (1984) or Sophie (1987), toward p r a c t i c a l knowledge gleaned f i rs thand from those d e s i r i n g to share i t . While Lewis and Sophie both make useful suggestions, t h e i r focus i s on how women can be helped to become more comfortable with themselves as lesbians . My study, by contrast , was designed to focus on the s o c i e t a l problem of heterosexism, and to provide f irs thand accounts of how lesbians 26 experience th i s problem. Moreover, because I planned to interview lesbians who were comfortable with t h e i r sexual o r i e n t a t i o n , I hoped to gather e f fec t ive s trategies and approaches from women who had used them. This study was intended to f i l l a gap i n the sparse l i t e r a t u r e on the dynamics of heterosexism and how counsel lors can help lesbians deal with th i s s o c i e t a l problem and i t s e f fects on t h e i r l i v e s . I do not intend for the theory developed from th i s study to i l luminate , necessar i ly , the ways i n which gay males deal with heterosexism, though there are l i k e l y some commonalities. Rich (1980) observes that the s i m i l a r i t i e s between lesbians and gay men must be seen against the d i f ferences , such as degree of economic and c u l t u r a l p r i v i l e g e , and kinds of re la t ionsh ips c u l t i v a t e d . The re la t i onsh ip between gender and deal ing with heterosexism remains to be explored. 27 CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY I interviewed eight lesbians i n order to construct an explanation of how lesbians deal with heterosexist a t t i tudes and behaviours, inc luding both s p e c i f i c incidents and ongoing s i t u a t i o n s . I used a way of inves t igat ing t h e i r experiences that I bel ieved would both recognize t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l , subject ive r e a l i t i e s and y i e l d a theory that re f l ec ted some of the shared aspects of t h e i r approaches. The Part i c ipants Interviews were conducted with eight lesbians between the ages of 25 and 40. Because I was p a r t i c u l a r l y interested i n discovering what stances or approaches the women found most e f f ec t ive , I s t ipu la ted in my recruitment notice (Appendix B) that I was seeking "lesbians who have reached a comfortable acceptance of t h e i r sexual i d e n t i t y . " With such a small sample, d i v e r s i t y i n s o c i o c u l t u r a l factors was not p a r t i c u l a r l y a goal . However, par t i c ipant s were, i n the end, quite var ied i n terms of age (within the sample l i m i t s ) , occupation, worldview, and kinds of l i f e experience. Two of the lesbians interviewed were mothers. Of these, one l i v e d with a partner and was a co-parent; the other a lso had a partner, but assumed most of the parenting r e s p o n s i b i l i t y herse l f . Seven of the women were Caucasian and one was apparently a native Canadian who had been ra i sed i n a 28 Caucasian family . Par t i c ipants for the study were found by two methods: advert i s ing and "snowballing." Advertisements were placed i n two Vancouver-based gay and lesbian tab lo ids , and recruitment notices were placed i n lesbian and gay community centres, restaurants , and bookstores (Appendix B) . In these not ices , I estimated the time commitment to be about two hours, d iv ided between two meetings. I a lso made i t c l ear that th i s would not be a counse l l ing s i t u a t i o n , but an opportunity for co- inves t igat ive research. I added that ins ight into one's own personal development or personal strengths might poss ibly be gained i n the process, as well as the reward of contr ibut ing to knowledge about the way lesbians deal with heterosexism. Three of the par t i c ipant s came forward af ter seeing an advertisement. "Snowballing" was achieved by asking lesbian and gay fr iends and acquaintances i f they knew of lesbians who f i t my study's c r i t e r i a and who might be w i l l i n g to be interviewed. The women then telephoned me, o f f er ing to be interviewed. Two of the par t i c ipant s were found i n th i s way. The remaining three par t i c ipants were found when, chat t ing with them informal ly on separate occasions, they asked what my thesis was about. When I t o l d them, they volunteered to p a r t i c i p a t e . Once a woman expressed in teres t i n my study, I confirmed with her b r i e f l y the subject of the study, why I wished to conduct i t , and what kind of help I needed. I f she then 29 expressed a wi l l ingness to p a r t i c i p a t e , I determined whether she: (a) was 25-40 years of age (b) had reached a comfortable acceptance of her lesbian id en t i ty (for example, was general ly "out," associated with other lesbians , and so on) (c) was able and w i l l i n g to share with me the s trateg ies she used i n deal ing with negative s o c i e t a l or i n d i v i d u a l at t i tudes toward lesbians (d) could make the (roughly) 2-hour time commitment, i n two separate meetings, that the study required . When the woman responded a f f i rmat ive ly to a l l of the above, she and I proceeded to make arrangements for our f i r s t meeting, which was then held at a mutually agreed upon time and place . The Procedure In order to uncover the experiences of study p a r t i c i p a n t s , I used a semi-structured interview guide (Appendix A ) . Af ter the interviewee had signed the consent form (Appendix C) , I began the interview. Care was taken to repeat the same procedure with each p a r t i c i p a n t , though n a t u r a l l y , questions var ied depending on the content that emerged. F i r s t interviews general ly lasted about one hour. They were audiotape recorded, and l a t e r transcr ibed verbatim. Following each interview, I took notes regarding poss ible modif ications to the interview guide. I a lso recorded my impressions of the interview, and made se l f - eva luat ive notes regarding my interviewing s ty l e and 30 technique. The f i r s t interview question attempted to e l i c i t the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s understanding of the term "heterosexism." This question was asked par t ly to discover whether my own usage of the word was congruent with the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s perception of i t s meaning, and p a r t l y to construct a d e f i n i t i o n from the women's responses. The second question ("Could you t e l l me about any instances of heterosexism you personal ly have experienced i n your l i f e?") was designed to be general . I d id not t y p i c a l l y ask about heterosexism i n any p a r t i c u l a r area of l i f e , such as re la t ionsh ips with fr iends and family members, job s i tua t ions , or motherhood, because I f e l t that interviewees would ta lk more free ly i f given "space" within which to f ind t h e i r own focus of concern. Other questions were meant to e l i c i t p a r t i c i p a n t s ' opinions regarding the comparative effect iveness of t h e i r s trateg ies , whether they f e l t t h e i r approaches or at t i tudes had changed over time, and how t h e i r stances f i t i n with t h e i r o v e r a l l p ic ture of themselves. Normally, when using the grounded theory method, the interview questions evolve with the f i r s t several interviews (Strauss & Corbin , 1 9 9 0 ) . In a process c a l l e d "theoretical sampling," themes appearing repeatedly are included v i a add i t i ona l questions, while questions that do not appear to y i e l d much information are dropped. In my study, however, I found i t unnecessary to make cont inual changes to the interview guide. After modifying one question s l i g h t l y and adding one 31 question fol lowing the f i r s t interview (see Appendix A, Interview Guides 1 and 2), I found the second vers ion of the guide adequate for e l i c i t i n g the information I needed. In order to check the women's perceptions of the theory I was formulating, a second interview took place af ter a l l of the f i r s t interviews and r e s u l t i n g analyses were completed. Par t i c ipants were offered a choice of jo in ing a focus group designed for th i s purpose, or being interviewed once more i n d i v i d u a l l y . Although almost a l l of the women expressed in teres t i n the focus group, we were not able to coordinate a l l of our schedules. Therefore, the focus group consisted of f ive par t i c ipant s and myself, and the remaining three were consulted i n d i v i d u a l l y (one before the focus group, and the other two, a f t e r ) . Due to l o g i s t i c a l d i f f i c u l t i e s , these sessions were not audiotaped. On seeing par t i c ipant s a second time, I showed them the model I had derived from t h e i r data and asked for t h e i r opinions, along with amendments or v a l i d a t i o n of i t s various part s . C o n f i d e n t i a l i t y and consent. Each par t i c ipant was given a dupl icate consent form s ta t ing c l e a r l y the general purpose of the study and the time commitment involved. Par t i c ipants were reminded that they could terminate at any point . They were a lso informed that , although the interview would be taped, the tape would be erased upon completion of my ana lys i s . The women were further assured that t h e i r names would not be used i n t ranscr ip t s unless they wished to use t h e i r r e a l f i r s t names. 32 Some of the women chose to do so. I n i t i a l s of partners , c h i l d r e n , and so on have been changed. Other i d e n t i f i e r s , such as place names or groups the par t i c ipant s belonged to, were changed or removed except where par t i c ipant s gave me permission to include them. Time, space, and equipment. For interviews, I used a small tape recorder with two microphones. In each case, I asked the p a r t i c i p a n t where she would l i k e to be interviewed. Three offered to come to my home; the remaining f ive were interviewed i n t h e i r homes. The focus group session was conducted i n a room at the Vancouver Gay and Lesbian Centre. Two of the i n d i v i d u a l confirmation sessions were conducted in p a r t i c i p a n t s ' homes, and a t h i r d took place i n my home. Although the time of involvement i n the study was estimated at two hours on the recruitment not ices , actual involvement was c loser to three or three-and-a-hal f : the confirmation sessions, which I had estimated at one hour, took 90 minutes—even i n cases where I met with par t i c ipant s i n d i v i d u a l l y . Moreover, s ix of the eight par t i c ipant s also chose to learn how the information they had given me would appear i n the thesis manuscript. These women each spent approximately ha l f an hour with me on the telephone while I read the segments i n which I had referred to them or quoted them, and made changes where requested to do so. (I offered to do the same with the remaining two people; however, they dec l ined . ) 33 I had thought that , during the interviewing process, even women who were comfortable with t h e i r sexual iden t i ty might uncover ambivalence i n t h e i r own at t i tudes , as a r e s u l t of r e f l e c t i n g on my questions. I f a par t i c ipant experienced confusion or strong emotions to a degree where counse l l ing seemed necessary, I had planned to provide her with at l eas t three r e f e r r a l s to experienced counsel lors who were knowledgeable about sexual i ty issues . As i t turned out, such r e f e r r a l s were not necessary. About the Grounded Theory Method In Strauss and Corbin's (1990) grounded theory method, data i s "discovered, developed, and p r o v i s i o n a l l y v e r i f i e d through systematic data c o l l e c t i o n and analys is of data perta in ing to [a given] phenomenon" (p. 23). The emphasis, then, i s placed more on generating a theory rather than on v e r i f y i n g i t . This theory i s constructed from the raw data provided by the p a r t i c i p a n t s , who then work with the researcher to amend or va l idate i t . Because grounded theory i s soundest when i t s elements are va l idated by co l laborators , i t embodies the feminist p r i n c i p l e that conceives researcher and par t i c ipant as cooperating i n "meaning-making" (Hunnisett, 1986). It also approaches the e t h i c a l idea l i n research with minority p a r t i c i p a n t s , wherein researchers forego the h i e r a r c h i c a l s tructure that separates them from those whose experiences are being studied (Walsh- Bowers & Parlour , 1992). 34 Morrow and Smith (1995) use a grounded theory approach to out l ine a coping process i n survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Zuk (1992) uses a s i m i l a r approach when e l i c i t i n g the learning and growth process of male batterers during a 24-week psychoeducational programme. In another study, the process of thes is blocking i s compared to that of unhindered thesis wr i t ing i n order to discover factors that contribute to ease of thes is completion (Rennie & Brewer, 1987). Trustworthiness of the method. Relevant to th i s f emin i s t - based, grounded theory study are three aspects of trustworthiness based on Guba's model (1981, i n K r e f t i n g , 1990). These are: (a) c r e d i b i l i t y , (b) dependabi l i ty , and (c) c o n f i r m a b i l i t y . C r e d i b i l i t y i s subject -or iented; since there i s no s ingle r e a l i t y to be measured, the researcher must take care to represent the mult ip le r e a l i t i e s revealed by par t i c ipant s as f a i t h f u l l y as poss ib le . "Dependability" takes the place of " r e p l i c a b i l i t y " i n quant i tat ive research; that i s , although i t would be impossible to r e p l i c a t e the v a r i a b i l i t y of experience found i n , for example, s t o r y - t e l l i n g , one should at l eas t be able to trace the v a r i a b i l i t y to i d e n t i f i a b l e sources. And f i n a l l y , "conf irmabi l i ty" of data i s achieved when par t i c ipant s va l idate the f indings of the research. As part of my desire to ensure c r e d i b i l i t y , I kept a f i e l d journa l , i n which I noted thoughts, f ee l ings , hunches, questions, and problems that arose. In addi t ion , I t r i e d to capture on paper whatever biases or assumptions I became aware 35 of during the research process. This pract i se helped me to improve my interviewing technique to the extent where I was able to word questions more e f f e c t i v e l y , and i n p a r t i c u l a r , to come up with better "probes." I then inv i t ed par t i c ipant s to form a focus group for t h e i r input on the model I constructed, inc luding v a l i d a t i o n and amendments. According to Krueger (1988), the focus group i s an e f f i c i e n t way of v a l i d a t i n g the re su l t s of q u a l i t a t i v e research: i t puts people i n na tura l , r e a l - l i f e s i tuat ions where they may, upon hearing other people's views, be more expressive than i n a one-to-one s i t u a t i o n . Other advantages include f l e x i b i l i t y , "high face v a l i d i t y " or c r e d i b i l i t y , and time e f f i c i e n c y . To ensure dependabi l i ty , or consistency, of my f indings , I conducted a care fu l data ana lys i s , i n which I checked and rechecked my codes i n order to ensure that they re f l ec ted data content accurate ly . In addi t ion , I retained a l l my memos d e t a i l i n g the evolut ion of codes, categories , and re la t ionsh ips between categories . The proposal for th i s thes i s , along with the two versions of my interview guide, are also a part of my "audit t r a i l . " Moreover, the many verbatim segments of data used to i l l u s t r a t e themes emerging from my analys is enhance the study's trustworthiness . F i n a l l y , the study's conf i rmabi l i ty was ensured by the construct ion of models, since they provided a means of v e r i f y i n g what par t i c ipant s had to ld me. Moreover, because I had created verbatim t ranscr ip t s of the interviews, I was able 36 to re fer to exact phrases or ideas when consult ing with p a r t i c i p a n t s . As mentioned, i n addi t ion to meeting face to face with par t i c ipant s for v a l i d a t i o n , I engaged i n 30-minute telephone confirmation sessions with s ix of the eight p a r t i c i p a n t s . Data Analys is Data analys is took place concurrently with the interviewing process. O r i g i n a l l y , I had planned to follow a theoretical sampling approach, i n which "sampling [takes place] on the basis of the evolving t h e o r e t i c a l relevance of concepts" (Strauss & Corbin , 1990, p. 179). In other words, the analys i s af fects the quest ioning, which i n turn affects the ana lys i s . Some concepts would be retained i n the questions because they appeared to be t h e o r e t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t , while other concepts could be dropped from the theory—and therefore from the questions as w e l l — i f they were found to be i r r e l e v a n t . As mentioned above, however, I d id not f ind a need to change the interview guide af ter the i n i t i a l changes fol lowing the f i r s t interview. In a process known as open coding, uni ts of data i n the form of s ingle l i n e s , sentences, or complete thoughts were summarized i n the r ight-hand margin of the t r a n s c r i p t s . Words or phrases used i n coding were often taken from the data i t s e l f , to create what Strauss and Corbin (1990) c a l l "in vivo" codes. For instance, the fol lowing statement was coded "double standard": "There's a double standard that i f they ta lk about 37 t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s , they're just t a l k i n g , and i f I t a l k about my r e l a t i o n s h i p s , I'm searing them!" Descr ipt ive categories were then created by grouping s i m i l a r l y coded sections of data. These categories also adhered where poss ible to the language of p a r t i c i p a n t s , though they were often at a s l i g h t l y higher l e v e l of abs trac t ion . "Double standard," "us and them," "economically marginal ized," and "treated with disrespect" were a l l l a t e r grouped under "things being unequal," which was further transformed into the part of the d e f i n i t i o n of "heterosexism" (Chapter Four, Part I) r e f e r r i n g to "exclusionary and unequal treatment." Next, the data was axially coded: that i s , connections were drawn between categories and subcategories, and a framework for "The Experience of Heterosexism" sect ion (Chapter Four, Part I) was developed, along with a model that showed how ways of deal ing with heterosexism evolved (Chapter Four, Part I I ) . A x i a l coding provided me with a way to organize the experience of heterosexism into a composite d e f i n i t i o n of "heterosexism," a d e t a i l i n g of aspects of the phenomenon, causal and perpetuating condit ions , and intervening condi t ions . According to Strauss and Corbin (1990), causal condit ions are "the events or incidents that lead to the occurrence or development of a phenomenon" (p. 100); intervening condit ions " f a c i l i t a t e or constrain the s trategies taken within a s p e c i f i c context" (p. 96). By i l luminat ing the context of the area under study, causal and intervening condit ions add "density and 38 prec i s ion" to a grounded theory study (p. 9 9 ) . I created a v i s u a l schema using a very large piece of cardboard, with themes, categories , subcategories and elements writ ten on "post- i t" notes. For instance, the theme "Impact" was further broken down into the categories "Impact on r e l a t i o n s h i p s , " "Impact i n the work world," and so on. These categories contained subcategories: for example, "Impact i n the work world" included "career choice" and "work environment." These subcategories were broken down s t i l l further into d i scre te elements from interviews. Included i n the "work environment" category were "assumption I'm heterosexual ," "question of whether to come out," and so on. In r e f l e c t i n g on the re la t ionsh ips between categories , subcategories, and so on, I found I needed to reconceptualize parts of the schema a number of times. (This process included moving the "post- i t" notes around to schematize the new r e l a t i o n s h i p s . ) In cont inual ly returning to the data to reconsider re la t ionsh ips between categories , I was able to ensure that my theory was adequately "grounded." In organizing categories and subcategories r e l a t i n g to strategies used to deal with or counteract the ef fects of heterosexism, I drew "key words" i n c i r c l e s , with "spokes" r a d i a t i n g outwards, ending i n re la ted words that were also e n c i r c l e d . This technique allowed me to add more spokes to the centra l words as I processed more data; i t a lso allowed me to connect two or more key words or "hubs," thereby subsuming them 39 under a larger heading. For instance, "Drawing p a r a l l e l s " and "Correcting misconceptions" were both spokes of the key word "Educating," while "Cal l ing i t " and "Complaining" were connected to the key word "Confronting." Later , I r e a l i z e d that "Educating," "Confronting," and "Take Me or Leave Me" were a l l part of the larger theme of "Activism." My use of th i s technique to show re la t ionsh ips between various l eve l s of categories culminated i n "Model 1: Lesbian Transformations i n Dealing with Heterosexism." This model was used as a springboard for Model 2, which was conceptualized by par t i c ipant s i n the confirmatory focus group. And f i n a l l y , by combining Models 1 and 2, I derived Model 3, i n which I attempted to incorporate the best features of the two previous models. Assumptions A basic assumption underlying th i s research i s that most, i f not a l l , lesbians are subject to heterosexism, whether they perceive th i s to be the case or not. In saying so, I am taking into account s o c i e t a l laws and i n s t i t u t i o n s that "discriminate ind i scr iminate ly" against all lesbians and gay men and that , therefore, could p o t e n t i a l l y be a threat or roadblock i n our l i v e s at any time; for instance, laws that refuse us the r i g h t to marry, have next -o f -k in r ights when a partner d ies , or sponsor a partner from another country to enter our own. In interviewing lesbians about how they dealt with heterosexism, I was assuming that the women who presented 40 themselves for the study considered themselves to have • experienced heterosexist a t t i tudes , and poss ib ly , act ions . Moreover, I held the premise that these women would be conscious of how they dealt with heterosexism. I expected that each woman's s trategies would d i f f e r depending on such var iables as family environment, in tens i ty of the s tressor , degree of support, socioeconomic status , ethnic background, and personal i ty a t t r i b u t e s . Al so , I expected that each woman would use d i f f e r e n t s trategies i n d i f f erent s i tuat ions (Banyard & Graham-Bermann, 1993; Lykes, 1983). Changing at t i tudes toward lesbians and gay men have been re f l ec ted i n publ ic po l i cy i n the l a s t 15 years (Morin & Rothblum, 1991), and th i s fact accounts somewhat for the decrease i n "private prejudice" (Melton, 1989). For th i s reason, I assumed that heterosexism would af fect various age groups d i f f e r e n t i a l l y , and d id not interview lesbians under 25 or over 40. Although the women I interviewed were those who f e l t pos i t i ve about being lesbians , I d id not assume that t h e i r p o s i t i v e lesbian ide n t i ty was necessarily a r e s u l t of having coped with heterosexism; there are many other factors i n lesbians ' l i v e s (as i n the l i v e s of a l l people) that contribute to t h e i r se l f -concept . Among these are family r e l a t i o n s h i p s , f r iendships , achievements and competencies, and l i f e events, as wel l as the degree of respect for women and g i r l s i n t h e i r cu l ture and place of upbringing. However, I do bel ieve that 41 awareness of heterosexism as a problem, along with the a b i l i t y to respond to heterosexist oppression e f f e c t i v e l y , enhances a lesbian's sense of herself as a competent person. My decision to interview only lesbians and not gay men r e f l e c t s a b e l i e f that, because women are s o c i a l i z e d d i f f e r e n t l y from men, thei r ways of coping are d i f f e r e n t (Banyard & Graham-Bermann, 1993; G i l l i g a n , 1982; Morrow & Smith, 1995). Also, the form that heterosexism takes when directed toward lesbians i s sometimes d i f f e r e n t than that aimed at men. For example, i n some countries, such as Armenia, Estonia, Ghana, and Kenya, male homosexuality i s prohibited by law, whereas lesbianism i s not even mentioned (Tielman & Hammelburg, 1993). This may be either because i t i s considered n e g l i g i b l e ( i . e . , women i n these countries are themselves not considered enough of a threat to be taken seriously) or because i t i s assumed not to exi s t . In addition, the fact that women are s t i l l dominated economically by men i s r e f l e c t e d i n lesbians' low income levels r e l a t i v e to gay men (Rich, 1980). For instance, lesbians have fewer means of establishing high- p r o f i l e lesbian-oriented businesses, community centres, and health care c l i n i c s . These factors contribute to the i n v i s i b i l i t y of lesbians, as does the scant coverage i n the media r e l a t i v e to gay men. Moreover, lesbians are frequently omitted from language: for instance, the phrase "gay people" i s often used to indicate "gay men and lesbians" i n the same way that the word "he" has long been used to imply "he or she." 42 Limitat ions of the Study F i r s t , i t should be noted that my sample contains a s e l f - se l ec t ion b ias , i n that a l l par t i c ipant s volunteered to be interviewed. For th i s reason, the women may have more formal education and be more p o l i t i c a l l y aware than would lesbians i n a random sample. Because they were interested i n d iscuss ing heterosexism with me, i t i s l i k e l y that most of the par t i c ipant s had thought about the topic a l o t before our conversations. It i s a lso l i k e l y that the se l f -mot ivat ion apparent i n t h e i r coming forward to be interviewed i s operative i n t h e i r d a i l y l i v e s , inc luding t h e i r ways of deal ing with heterosexism. Because the sample s ize i s small , i t does not f u l l y r e f l e c t the d i v e r s i t y found i n the lesbian community. For instance, a l l but one of the women are Caucasian, and a l l were ra i sed i n Caucasian fami l i e s . A l so , although I d id not ask par t i c ipant s about t h e i r c lass backgrounds, the women do not current ly appear to belong to widely disparate s o c i a l c lasses . F i n a l l y , th i s sample of eight lesbians could not include representatives of every p o l i t i c a l view or philosophy. For instance, th i s p a r t i c u l a r sample appears not to include extreme lesbian separat i s t s ( lesbians who choose, for s o c i a l or p o l i t i c a l reasons, to associate mainly with other lesb ians , leading t h e i r l i v e s apart from men and sometimes from heterosexual women). However, the viewpoints and approaches found among these eight women were unquestionably d iverse . 43 CHAPTER FOUR RESULTS This chapter w i l l be organized into three parts , cons i s t ing of the fo l lowing: Part I: The Experience of Heterosexism F i r s t , because ways of deal ing with heterosexism are best understood i n the context i n which they become necessary (Strauss & Corbin , 1990), I w i l l set out some important aspects of the experience of heterosexism that emerged from interview data. I w i l l begin by presenting a composite definition of heterosexism. Next, I w i l l present the phenomenon of heterosexism, with regard to both heterosexual at t i tudes and impact on the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' l i v e s . T h i r d , under causal and perpetuating conditions, I w i l l set for th p a r t i c i p a n t s ' opinions regarding why heterosexism ar i ses and why i t continues. This part w i l l end with intervening conditions, or factors that make the experience d i f f eren t for i n d i v i d u a l l esb ians . Part I I : Dealing with Heterosexism Part II contains the core of my research. It w i l l begin with the process by which I developed a grounded theory of how lesbians deal with heterosexism, and w i l l describe how a model expressing the theory came into being. F i r s t , two preliminary- models w i l l be presented: that which I i n i t i a l l y constructed from interview mater ia l , and a second version of th i s model, res tructured by par t i c ipant s i n the focus group. I w i l l then present the third model, pr imar i ly a synthesis of the f i r s t two, 44 along with the grounded theory on which th i s model i s based. In the l a s t sect ion of Part II (the most extensive sect ion of th i s chapter) , I w i l l d e t a i l the study p a r t i c i p a n t s ' strategies used in dealing with heterosexism. Excerpts from the interviews w i l l be used to i l l u s t r a t e these s t ra teg ie s . Part I I I : Creating a Nonheterosexist Society F i n a l l y , Part III w i l l consis t of the hopes and wishes for s o c i e t a l change, or goals for creating a nonheterosexist society, voiced by par t i c ipant s i n interviews. These goals seemed to play a part i n shaping some of the s trategies and approaches i n Part I I , and represent an idea l "endpoint" i n the transformation of lesbians ' ways of deal ing with heterosexism. Part I: The Experience of Heterosexism D e f i n i t i o n of "Heterosexism" The d e f i n i t i o n of "heterosexism" was arr ived at by synthesiz ing the eight p a r t i c i p a n t s ' responses to the f i r s t interview question: "When you hear me use the word 'heterosexism,' I'm wondering what meaning you attach to i t . " Once a d e f i n i t i o n was generated, i t was brought back to a l l par t i c ipant s for confirmation. At th i s stage, the d e f i n i t i o n was s l i g h t l y expanded. Its present form i s now as fol lows: Systemic or institutionalized hatred or fear of homosexuals, including the belief that homosexuality is wrong, sinful, or deviant, resulting in denial of rights and other forms of exclusionary and unequal treatment. I w i l l b r i e f l y expand on each part of th i s d e f i n i t i o n . 45 Systemic or i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d hatred or fear of homosexuals . . . Par t i c ipants general ly saw heterosexism as going beyond i n d i v i d u a l fear and hatred; some pointed out i t was deeply entrenched i n soc ie ty ' s values and education system. Denise used the words "systemic" and " i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d " ; J u l i e sa id , "It's an ' i s m . ' " Several par t i c ipant s drew a connection between heterosexism, sexism, and racism as ins id ious and pervasive aspects of soc iety , and i d e n t i f i e d as a key, common element a sense of super ior i ty of one group toward another, coupled with oppressive and exclusionary treatment. . . . inc luding the b e l i e f that homosexuality i s wrong, s i n f u l , or deviant . . . V i r t u a l l y a l l par t i c ipant s made reference to th i s aspect of heterosexism, several noting the negative stereotypes they had heard regarding lesbian and gay people when growing up, or the opinion that , as Susan sa id , they were "pagan and e v i l . " In a number of the interviews, derogatory terms for lesbians and gay men were c i t e d , such as " lezz ie ," "fuckin' queers," and "faggot." Another important theme that emerged was the tendency of heterosexuals to "sexualize" lesbians; that i s , to see them only as sexual beings and to assume that they are preoccupied with sex. Meanwhile, i t was pointed out, t h e i r capacity for love i s overlooked. . . . r e s u l t i n g i n denia l of r ights . . . Among the r ight s that were mentioned were the r ight to express a f fec t ion i n publ ic without fear of verbal or phys ica l attack, the r i g h t to be out at work without fear of repercussion, the r i g h t to receive work- 46 re la ted spousal benef i ts , the r i g h t to marry and be recognized as a couple, the r i g h t to keep one's ch i ldren af ter separation from a male partner, and the r ight to be recognized l e g a l l y and s o c i a l l y as co-parents. . . . and other forms of exclusionary and unequal treatment. Two par t i c ipant s used the phrase "us and them" to describe the schism that resu l t s from the view that heterosexual i ty i s superior and homosexuality, i n f e r i o r . Being excluded from the ranks of the "respectable," i t i s r i s k y for lesbians to be who they are. They are faced with the choice of e i ther being i n v i s i b l e or being penalized s o c i a l l y and economically. As Rae put i t , being a n o u t lesbian means being "economically marginal ized," since choice of jobs and access to the f i n a n c i a l benefits allowed heterosexuals becomes r e s t r i c t e d . "It a l l comes down to money, because money i s about power." The Phenomenon of Heterosexism This sect ion i n subdivided into the fol lowing areas: heterosexual at t i tudes and responses, the impact of heterosexism on r e l a t i o n s h i p s , the impact of heterosexism i n the work world, the psychological impact of heterosexism, and the pos i t i ve ef fects of deal ing with heterosexism. Heterosexual Att i tudes and Responses A l l the women interviewed made at l east some reference to at t i tudes and misconceptions held by heterosexuals. Among those mentioned were the tendency to condescend and minimize, the 47 b e l i e f that being a lesbian i s only about being sexual, that lesbianism i s pagan and e v i l , and that i t i s a disease. Par t i c ipants also commonly mentioned d e n i a l , fear, and shock as common react ions of heterosexuals toward lesb ians . Condescension and minimization. Heterosexual responses reported by par t i c ipant s included the b e l i e f that t h e i r lesbianism was "just a phase"; that they had been influenced by fr iends to become lesbians; that bad experiences with men had turned them into lesbians; and that a lesbian was simply a woman who "can't f ind a man." Also mentioned by two par t i c ipant s was a tendency for heterosexual men to fee l t i t i l l a t e d by the idea of l e sb ian sex and to regard lesbians as objects for t h e i r entertainment and pleasure. One interviewee f e l t that some heterosexual men enjoy pursuing lesbians , because they f ind i t "more of a chal lenge." Overemphasis on sex. Several of the par t i c ipant s reported an assumption that lesbians are more concerned with sex than are heterosexuals. Cheryl r e c a l l e d a neighbourhood mother who worried aloud how she would explain to her son about his f r i e n d ' s "two mothers"; she seemed to assume she would have to give him facts about t h e i r sex l i f e . A s i m i l a r a t t i tude , though much more overt , was re f l ec ted i n one p a r t i c i p a n t ' s exchange with a neighbour. Although the argument was unrelated to the woman being a l e sb ian , the neighbour b lurted out, "Well, a l l you guys do i s lay [s ic ] around and suck each other's cunts a l l day!" 48 Denia l . Denise re la ted that , when she showed a group of teenagers a video about the problems faced by lesbian and gay youth, one young man responded by i n s i s t i n g there were no homosexuals i n his home country. Lee has experienced people t e l l i n g her she was not a lesbian—apparently because she d id not f i t t h e i r image of one—even though she i n s i s t e d she was. Susan remembered two young men who were among her worst persecutors i n high school , both of whom she l a t e r found out were gay themselves. Fear. Various types of fear-based react ions were noted, but the most common of these were discomfort and nervousness. J u l i e spoke of her partner 's fami ly ' s react ions when she and her partner show a f f ec t ion: they e i ther joke about i t ("Oh, you beasts!") or f a l l s i l e n t . Cheryl reported that she and her partner get stared at cont inual ly whenever they hold hands i n p u b l i c . When Denise t r i e d to discuss homosexuality and heterosexism with youth i n a l i f e s k i l l s program, she sensed that several were a f r a i d to ask questions about i t . Marg remembered how her mother was "nervous" about meeting her gay male f r i ends , a couple, yet could not explain why. Both Rae and J u l i e also mentioned the fear-based b e l i e f held by some heterosexuals that homosexuals w i l l make sexual advances toward them. Impact of Heterosexism on Relat ionships Interview material showed heterosexism to have a profound impact on re la t ionsh ips with family members and partners i n p a r t i c u l a r , and also to af fect in teract ions with men, with co- 49 workers, and with other lesbians . Parental a t t i tudes . Among th i s sample of lesbians , parental a t t i tudes ranged from complete acceptance to complete d e n i a l . One par t i c ipant re la ted fee l ing "shocked" that her parents had such d i f f i c u l t y adjust ing to her sexual o r i e n t a t i o n . She expressed hurt and anger that they did not ask her about her personal l i f e , d id not i n v i t e her partner to family functions—although they i n v i t e d her heterosexual s i b l i n g s ' spouses—and d id not o f fer any sympathy when an important re la t i onsh ip ended. In short , she f e l t they d id not recognize "that I ac tua l ly have a l i f e , " and that the emotions that accompany events i n l esb ian re la t ionsh ips are r e a l . Another par t i c ipant also expressed f r u s t r a t i o n and pain at not being able to share with her older s i s t e r (who had had a parental ro l e i n her l i f e ) her hurt and anger at being "judged and condemned," since she knew she would only receive further c r i t i c i s m and blame i n response. Lesbian motherhood. The two lesbians mothers i n the sample f e l t that heterosexuals tend not to regard them as "real mothers." According to Chery l , th i s misconception stems from the b e l i e f that lesbians are always sexual, and therefore are unable to have a nonsexual r e la t i onsh ip with t h e i r c h i l d r e n . Cheryl a lso reported that , because she i s the b i o l o g i c a l mother of t h e i r c h i l d r e n , her partner i s often not accepted as the other mother, although they have an equal ro le i n bringing up the c h i l d r e n . Both women also mentioned not being seen as "real lesbians" by other lesbians . They noted that th i s i s p a r t i c u l a r l y the case i f 50 the lesbian has male c h i l d r e n , or i f the ch i ldren are from a heterosexual marriage. Both lesbian mothers ra i sed a number of issues wherein heterosexism affects t h e i r c h i l d r e n . Both are concerned that ch i ldren are not being given correct information, or i n fact any information, by adults at school . Both f ind i t important to be open about being lesbians , i n order to counteract negative impressions t h e i r ch i ldren pick up from at school or from the media. One mother expressed concern that her ch i ldren would turn against her and her partner once they became teenagers and s tarted wanting to " f i t in" with t h e i r peers. The other mother's ch i ldren were already gett ing teased i n school; for instance, her 10-year-old daughter was being c a l l e d a "dyke." The impact on the ent ire family i s profound, Cheryl s tressed. I f a l e sb ian ' s parents refuse to accept her sexual o r i e n t a t i o n , the r e s u l t can be a c u t - o f f between parents and daughter; th i s i n turn means that her ch i ldren are not able to see t h e i r grandparents. I f th i s i s the case, ch i ldren may even resent t h e i r parents for being lesb ians . Lesbian r e l a t i o n s h i p s . A recurr ing theme i n the interviews was the fact that lesbian re la t ionsh ips tend not to be acknowledged or respected. J u l i e pointed out that, since heterosexual re la t ionsh ips are the only ones sanctioned by soc iety , she and her partner are often "not r e a l l y perceived as being a couple." Delyse further made the point that , due to a heterosexist b e l i e f that lesbian re la t ionsh ips cannot l a s t , 51 lesbians themselves s tar t to bel ieve th i s i s the case, and t h e i r re la t ionsh ips are negatively af fected. A lesbian couple's re la t ionsh ip i s affected i n other ways as w e l l . In s i tuat ions where two women fee l compelled to hide the fact they are a couple, they have a sense of devaluing the r e l a t i o n s h i p , or f a i l i n g to honour each other, as when they f ind themselves unlocking hands as a tough-looking man approaches them, or when a l e sb ian 's partner i s not i n v i t e d to a family funct ion . Negative react ions—or ant ic ipated negative at t i tudes— toward a lesbian couple by one or both of t h e i r fami l ies can a lso cause d i v i s i o n between a couple; for instance, i f a l esbian i s uncomfortable around her partner 's family (because the family i s uncomfortable i n her presence), or i f her partner feels uncomfortable around her own family . The couple may also disagree about how "out" they should be to family members, f r i ends , or col leagues. As one par t i c ipant attested, th i s can be an ongoing source of c o n f l i c t that deeply affects a r e l a t i o n s h i p . Relat ionships with men. Some of the women interviewed sa id they had f e l t pressure to have re la t ionsh ips with men, or that they simply had not r e a l i z e d there was any a l t e r n a t i v e . Lack of a t t r a c t i o n to the men they got involved with contributed to c o n f l i c t i n r e l a t i o n s h i p s , which led i n at l east one case to the breakup of a long-term marriage and the partner fee l ing abandoned. Two interviewees r e c a l l e d problems with regard to males i n 5 2 t h e i r high school days: one found i t d i f f i c u l t to deal with male classmates who l i k e d her, while the other f e l t hurt that boys avoided her. Another par t i c ipant remarked that i t was hard to make fr iends with men, since they t y p i c a l l y bel ieved that lesbians must be "man-haters." The lesbian community. The ef fects of heterosexism even spread to the way lesbians treat each other i n the lesbian community. Several par t i c ipants commented on the existence of an orthodoxy of dress, behaviour, and p o l i t i c s , which seemed to them an extension of the narrow-minded, p r e s c r i p t i v e thinking espoused by mainstream soc ie ty . Marg c r i t i c i z e d the way i n which lesbians often pressure each other to be "p.c ." ( p o l i t i c a l l y c o r r e c t ) , even to the point of d i scr iminat ing against one another. She c i t e d as an example a popular women's f e s t i v a l whose lesbian organizers , i n an e f for t to create a women-only environment, do not permit women to bring i n male ch i ldren over the age of seven. S i m i l a r l y , Rae reports having f e l t she had to be " p o l i t i c a l a l l the time." Cheryl laughed and agreed when I suggested that a l e sb ian ' s c r e d i b i l i t y among other lesbians decreased as the number of ch i ldren she had increased. Lee talked about f e e l i n g pressured to "look l i k e a l e sb ian ," and noted that th i s pressure even affected the choice of clothes she wore to be interviewed by me. Emphasis on a prescribed "look" was also mentioned by J u l i e and Delyse, who pointed out that lesbians who d id not conform to i t became i n v i s i b l e both to each other and to society i n general . Delyse observed that , as a manifestation of unacknowledged 53 i n t e r n a l i z e d homophobia, i t was common for women to f ind f a u l t with the lesbian community instead of looking inward. She a lso expressed the opinion that the desire of lesbians to d i s t i n g u i s h themselves from heterosexuals often leads to a r e j e c t i o n of the heterosexual family model, so that although lesbians often t ry to recreate family, they do so "on a peer l e v e l , rather than an intergenerat ional l e v e l . " One unfortunate consequence, she noted, was that the lesbian community then has l i t t l e connection with ch i ldren and e lders , and i s therefore unable to enjoy the richness they provide. Culture gaps. Some par t i c ipants observed the d i f f i c u l t y of br idg ing the gap between heterosexual and lesbian cu l tures . Susan re la ted the experience of br inging a heterosexual f r i end to a concert by a lesbian performer, and then to a lesbian bar. The f r i e n d ' s shock and bewilderment reminded her just how "exotic" the l esb ian cul ture can seem to a heterosexual person. Conversely, Delyse and Cheryl both reported that the heterosexual work world f e l t "foreign" to them, since the values and concerns of the heterosexuals i n that environment were d i f f erent from t h e i r own and those of t h e i r lesbian f r i ends . Delyse further commented that , because of c u l t u r a l d i f ferences , she found i t hard to make heterosexual f r i ends . Impact of Heterosexism i n the Work World. Career choice. Heterosexism affects career choice, and therefore the economic status of lesbians , Rae emphasized. For one th ing , lesbians who want to work i n an environment that 54 r e f l e c t s e g a l i t a r i a n , n o n - c a p i t a l i s t p r i n c i p l e s often end up working i n organizations with l i t t l e money; thus, unless they s a c r i f i c e t h e i r values, they are excluded from power. Regarding her own place of work, Rae stated, "We [the s ta f f ] work with marginalized people, and we are marginalized ourselves ." As several par t i c ipant s indicated , lesbians are also at a economic disadvantage compared to heterosexuals when the workplace lacks a strong union or employment benefits for same- sex partners , as i s often the case. In addi t ion , l esb ian and gay people may lose or be avoided by c l i e n t s who learn of t h e i r sexual o r i e n t a t i o n . A woman J u l i e worked with announced that she had stopped going to her massage therapis t upon discovering she was a l e s b i a n . The work environment. One issue that came up both i n the interviews and i n the confirmatory sessions was the dec i s ion about whether to come out at work, and the consequences of reveal ing one's sexual o r i e n t a t i o n . Denise noted that, although she has recent ly gained the confidence to come out i n job interviews, she s t i l l fee ls apprehensive about how her d i sc losure w i l l be received by employers. Being out i n a work environment can lead to f ee l ing shunned or excluded by co-workers, as Cheryl a t tes ted . She added that government jobs i n p a r t i c u l a r tend to be unfr iendly environments for lesbians . J u l i e , who worked u n t i l recent ly i n a f a i r l y conservative company, f e l t that by not being out at work, she was protect ing herse l f from "a p o t e n t i a l l y more oppressive environment." 55 On the other hand, being closeted at work also has a high cost , J u l i e noted. A lesbian can f ee l compelled to suppress t a l k about herse l f and her l i f e , while the heterosexual people around her are ta lk ing about themselves and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s . A l so , i f she does not f i t a stereotype, she i s invar iab ly thought to be heterosexual. Whether to attend a s t a f f party was a dilemma for J u l i e : she d id not wish to go without her partner. However, to attend with her partner would mean coming out, while not to do so would mean excluding her partner. Rae re la ted being i n the f r u s t r a t i n g and pa in fu l s i t u a t i o n of watching two gay men i n her work environment being oppressed, and yet f ee l ing powerless to defend them, since doing so might jeopardize her job. Psychological Impact of Heterosexism For the sake of convenience, the psychological impact of heterosexism i s presented as a d i scre te sect ion; however, the factors presented below pervade numerous areas, inc luding work l i f e , career asp ira t ions , family l i f e , and re la t ionsh ips with partners . Internal ized homophobia. Centra l to the experience of heterosexism i s the emotional "wear and tear" r e s u l t i n g from such s i tuat ions as those described above, and from many others as w e l l . For example, sadness and loss were themes that occurred repeatedly i n the interviews: loss of important re la t ionsh ips when family members or fr iends d id not understand; or i f not complete loss , distance between the lesbian and the people she was formerly close to; loss of job opportuni t ies ; loss of time, 56 when some lesbians discovered t h e i r true sexual or i en ta t ion l a t e r i n l i f e , not having r e a l i z e d that l i v i n g as a lesbian was an opt ion; lone l iness and i s o l a t i o n , before a woman found support, or when she found herse l f to be the only lesbian i n a work or s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n . Fear was another theme: of people's negative react ions , even when the lesbian was determined to remain true to herse l f and not hide her sexual i d e n t i t y ; of being os trac ized , p u b l i c l y embarrassed, harassed, or phys i ca l l y attacked; of los ing family , c h i l d r e n , or fr iends; and of p o l i t i c a l backlash that might r e s u l t i n the removal of the hard-won r ight s lesbians and gay men have thus far managed to rec la im. The par t i c ipant s often described how fee l ings of shame and insecur i ty resul ted from being treated l i k e "Satan's spawn," as Rae put i t . Interviewees report having f e l t i n v i s i b l e , excluded, and misunderstood—even by t h e i r own parents, who i n some cases avoided t a l k i n g with them about t h e i r personal l i v e s , and ignored t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s . As a consequence, the women tended to blame themselves, e spec ia l ly i n the e a r l i e r phases of deal ing with heterosexism. Susan described how she had d irec ted h o s t i l i t y outward toward the world, and s e l f - l o a t h i n g inward toward herse l f . She remembers f ee l ing she was "a loser" i n high school , because males d id not show interes t i n her. Delyse, who has counselled lesbians , observed that some are apt to blame themselves for various troubles i n t h e i r l i v e s , such as i n re la t ionsh ips or i n mothering, thinking the "fa i lure" i s due to 57 t h e i r being lesbians . Susan bel ieved her former pattern of get t ing into abusive re la t ionsh ips was p a r t l y a r e s u l t of f ee l ing that because she was a l e sb ian , she d id not deserve to be treated with respect . Hurt was another common emotion. Lee r e c a l l e d her fee l ings of shock and betrayal at being abandoned by people she had thought were good fr i ends . Rae re la ted her experience of t r y i n g to j o i n some female co-workers' conversation about t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and being treated as i f she were crazy: " . . . i t ' s r e j ec t i on of you, i t ' s l i k e cont inual r e j e c t i o n of you." Susan expressed the pain of i s o l a t i o n she had f e l t i n high school: "Absolutely nobody wants me, heaven forb id anybody would a c t u a l l y wanna touch me . . . . " The energy d r a i n . V i r t u a l l y a l l the women interviewed r e f e r r e d . t o the energy i t took to deal with heterosexism. Rae used the word "dailyness" to describe the struggle , "the having to reface and reface and reface that same s i t u a t i o n over, which i s fucking wearing/" She also pointed out that lesbians need to be "more sure than everybody e lse ," i n order to prove they are just as good. She spoke of the need to develop "multiple awarenesses"; that i s , having to jump into someone e l se ' s shoes and back into one's own, i n order to second-guess heterosexual people's react ions and weigh one's words accordingly . Along with protect ing oneself , much energy goes into protect ing other people because of t h e i r own prejudice , she added. The energy spent deciding what r i s k s to take was brought up 58 by almost a l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s . When J u l i e and her partner decided not to come out to some conservative acquaintances but to pretend they were fr iends instead, i t took "a l o t of planning. A l o t of energy Lee sa id she took the trouble to "set out [the fact that she i s a lesbian] at the beginning" of a new fr iendsh ip , although she resented having to do so. Denise too, when speaking of her des ire to test the l e v e l of comfort i n a work environment by coming out during a job interview, expressed a s i m i l a r f ee l ing : "It bugs me that I f ee l l i k e I have to say i t . " Part i c ipants frequently expressed f r u s t r a t i o n and anger at people's ignorance or oppressive a t t i tudes . Some reported f e e l i n g anger simply at r e a l i z i n g , as Rae put i t , that "this i s how the world works." Increased awareness of heterosexism i s accompanied by f i r s t - h a n d knowledge of i n j u s t i c e . For J u l i e , becoming part of a couple underlined th i s i n j u s t i c e even more, because she knew she and her partner d id not have the option of get t ing married, rece iv ing same-sex benefits at t h e i r jobs, and so on: " i t h i t s home. And I think that kind of makes you grow up Rae observed that , as a r e s u l t of experiencing oppressive a t t i tudes , lesbians tend to develop "hyperawareness," or ins ight into the mult ip le sources of oppression that a l l marginalized i n d i v i d u a l s face. Pos i t ive Ef fec ts of Dealing with Heterosexism Although i t i s pa in fu l to r e a l i z e "how the world works," Rae acknowledged that being a lesbian has given her a "tougher s k i n . " 59 Also , she commented that lesbians tend to become aware of ways i n which they sometimes oppress others; that i s , they can i d e n t i f y oppressive behaviour because they have often been on the rece iv ing end of i t . Both lesbian mothers commented on the atmosphere of honesty and respect that pervades t h e i r households. Both have resolved to teach t h e i r ch i ldren to be proud of who they are and who t h e i r parents are, and both recognize that openness and f l e x i b i l i t y i n general are important to developing accepting, non-oppressive a t t i tudes . Marg spoke of her e f for t s not to "control" her ch i ldren just for the sake of f ee l ing powerful, while Cheryl emphasized the importance of g iv ing her ch i ldren "lots of choices ." Both mothers also expressed a wi l l ingness to discuss v i r t u a l l y any topic that interested t h e i r c h i l d r e n , from sexual i ty to violence to AIDS. In my confirmation session with Rae, I showed her my chart with dozens of "post- i t" notes d e t a i l i n g the negative impact of heterosexism, and only a few i n d i c a t i n g pos i t i ve impact. She took a p o s t - i t of her own and added: "freedom; less r e s t r i c t e d i n choices/behaviour ( i f you're already out on a l imb) ." Causal and Perpetuating Conditions Although the ef fects of heterosexism were explored more deeply i n th i s research than the causes, two themes emerged regarding poss ible causes: fear of d i f ference , and des ire of a dominant, p r i v i l e g e d group for c o n t r o l . The former was expressed 60 by the remark "I think being d i f f erent . . . somehow scares people." The l a t t e r was expressed var ious ly as "white male dominance," " p o l i t i c i a n s who . . . impose t h e i r personal b e l i e f s . . . on thousands and thousands of people," and power over lesbians ' money ( in the work world) and over t h e i r bodies ( in that they are sometimes i n danger of phys ica l a t tack) . Regarding factors that perpetuate heterosexism, one mentioned by nearly a l l the par t i c ipant s (when asked what meaning the word "heterosexism" had for them) was the assumption that everyone i s heterosexual. Accompanying th i s assumption i s the devaluing of a l t erna t ive s , some par t i c ipant s observed. The problem was seen not simply as one of negative stereotypes and name-cal l ing, but also of ignoring the existence of homosexuality by f a i l i n g to provide information about i t . Examples given were the absence of ro le models for lesbian and gay youth, the absence of books about homosexuality in school l i b r a r i e s , the s c a r c i t y of such books for youth i n the f i r s t place, the omission of lesbians and gays from t e l e v i s i o n shows and commercials, and the exclus ion of the topic of homosexuality i n classroom di scuss ion . Several par t i c ipant s stated that they had had no awareness, when growing up, that a choice exis ted: . . . I grew up be l i ev ing I was s t ra ight and that there was no other way to be . . . . I guess that i s heterosexism . . . . A l l I ever heard was, "Damn feminist l esb ian b i t c h ! " That 's what I grew up with from, from my dad . . . . You could be bombarded d a i l y with . . . heterosexuals k i s s i n g and everything but you never, ever saw (pause) . . . two women. 61 I never thought of l esbians , r e a l l y . It was never mentioned i n our home, there was nobody that I knew that were lesbians . . . . . . i t ' s always assumed that y o u ' l l follow the t r a d i t i o n a l pattern . . . of family as defined by soc iety , that you w i l l get married'or l i v e with somebody of the opposite sex and, you know, perhaps have ch i ldren and just do what everybody else does, what's conventional , what's accepted, and take the route that ' s b a s i c a l l y covered by law . . . Thus the p o s s i b i l i t y of being a lesbian was v i r t u a l l y erased, while heterosexual re la t ionsh ips and family models were held up as the only leg i t imate ones. Some par t i c ipant s mentioned being pressured to have a boyfriend, or to marry and have c h i l d r e n . Another damaging, unconscious assumption was c i t e d by J u l i e : that homosexuality i s a sexual or i en ta t ion (with emphasis on "sexual") while heterosexuali ty i s not. As a r e s u l t , lesbians stand out as "other," and the aspects of sexual a t t r a c t i o n and sexual a c t i v i t y are overemphasized. This d i s t o r t i o n i n turn re su l t s i n the harmful b e l i e f s that homosexuals are c h i l d molesters or that there must be a sexual component to re la t ionsh ips between lesbian and gay parents and t h e i r c h i l d r e n . These fears and mistaken b e l i e f s were seen to pervade a l l major s o c i e t a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . Most frequently mentioned by par t i c ipant s were the education system, the t r a d i t i o n a l family s tructure , the work world, and the media. Also noted were the law, p o l i t i c s , r e l i g i o n , the economic system, and science and medicine. In the follow-up sessions, the women confirmed the idea that these i n s t i t u t i o n s served both to shape and to perpetuate 62 heterosexism. The ef fects of heterosexism then feed into i t s continuance. For instance, Cheryl commented that because society punishes lesbian mothers by l ega l sanctions, negative stereotypes, and lack of support, many lesbians choose not to have a family even i f they want one. The net ef fect i s that the lesbian-based family i s s t i l l a r e l a t i v e r a r i t y , and the popular view of lesbians as not being fami ly-or iented i s maintained. More general ly , as long as lesbians f ee l compelled to l i e about t h e i r sexual o r i e n t a t i o n for the sake of s o c i a l , economic, or phys ica l safety, t h e i r i n v i s i b i l i t y i s perpetuated and heterosexual i ty continues to be seen as the only v a l i d way of being. Intervening Conditions During the course of the interviews, information emerged that served to answer the question, "What factors make the experience of heterosexism d i f f erent for i n d i v i d u a l lesbians?" Although th i s mater ia l was not explored i n depth, i t seems important to present i t , s ince i t further i l luminates the s o c i o p o l i t i c a l context of the problem. Many women, for instance, spoke of the s ign i f i cance of s o c i a l support i n confronting heterosexist a t t i tudes or inc idents . For some, th i s support consisted of "a l l i e s" i n t h e i r fami l i e s ; for some, both heterosexual and lesbian fr iends; for some, a partner as we l l ; and for many, a network of fr iends within the lesbian community. Rae emphasized the di f ference that race and s o c i a l c lass 63 make, and the corresponding degree of p r i v i l e g e involved. She gave as an example the se lec t ion of a nonheterosexist work environment, an option normally open only to those with f i n a n c i a l resources and a reasonably high l e v e l of education. Susan c i t e d her s t r i c t r e l i g i o u s upbringing, which included the p o r t r a y a l of homosexuals as e v i l , as contr ibut ing to her s e l f - h a t r e d . Lee pointed out that geographic loca t ion makes a d i f ference; larger c i t i e s tend to have pos i t ive media coverage of l esbian and gay issues, thus increas ing publ ic awareness. Regarding the work world, several par t i c ipant s made reference to the o v e r a l l a t t i tudes of management, t h e i r boss, and other s t a f f members, as well as to the number of openly gay s t a f f members and the type of job. Att i tudes i n the workplace ranged from those of an organizat ion Denise worked for whose mandate was to move toward s o c i a l change, inc luding addressing such issues as sexual i ty and racism, to those of a s o c i a l services o u t f i t where Rae went for an interview: she l a t e r found out the organizat ion had f i r e d several lesbians because they were seen as "trouble- makers." (She found th i s fact e spec ia l ly d i s turb ing since she had expected s t a f f at a human services organizat ion to uphold—at least nominally—nondiscriminatory p o l i c i e s . ) Places with a strong union and same-sex benefits were seen as less heterosexist environments, as were places with progressive educational i n i t i a t i v e s such as profess ional development workshops. A number of factors were brought up i n r e l a t i o n to the a t t r ibutes of the heterosexual people with whom a lesbian 64 i n t e r a c t s , and the nature of her re la t i onsh ip with them. Often mentioned was the degree of denia l or openness i n her family , with some family members t y p i c a l l y being more accepting of the lesbian family member than others. Chery l , a l esbian mother, bel ieves that , regarding a l e sb ian 's re la t ionsh ips with her c h i l d r e n , gender i s a fac tor . She gave the opinion that male heterosexual ch i ldren i n p a r t i c u l a r were l i k e l y to become less accepting of lesbian parents when they reach t h e i r teens. Other factors bearing on a l e sb ian 's re la t ionsh ips with heterosexuals include how much contact she has with them (and accordingly , how much openness may or may not be necessary), how close a re la t i onsh ip she has with them, and how highly she regards them. According to p a r t i c i p a n t s , whether heterosexuals are—or can become—accepting depends p a r t l y on maturity l e v e l and degree of l i f e experience, par t ly on wi l l ingness to l earn and to be challenged, and p a r t l y on a person's l e v e l of self-esteem and f l e x i b i l i t y . Another set of "intervening conditions" re lates to the lesbian herse l f : her s i t u a t i o n , her experiences, and her personal a t t r i b u t e s . For instance, Denise explained that because she was i n a pos i t ion of authority at work, and was therefore seen as having power, she was not d i r e c t l y confronted with heterosexist comments or at t i tudes when she came out. Moreover, she bel ieved the degree of respect her co-workers had for her before she came out helped to smooth her way. Cheryl observed that a l e sb ian 's experience of heterosexism 6 5 d i f f e r s depending on whether she has c h i l d r e n . For instance, she conveyed a strong sense of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to pass on non- oppressive at t i tudes to her c h i l d r e n . She also c i t e d the popular view of lesbians as poor mothers. Marg, the other lesbian mother I interviewed, often f e l t the need to help her ch i ldren deal with heterosexist comments and behaviours of others, e spec ia l ly school peers. During the confirmatory sessions, par t i c ipant s commented on the d i f f i c u l t y of p inpoint ing personal a t t r ibutes that create a d i f f eren t experience for each l e sb ian , since i t i s impossible to ident i fy to what degree any a t t r ibute contributes to deal ing with heterosexism, and to what degree i t i s shaped by i t . In general , however, reference was made to how "out" a l esb ian i s when confronted with any given heterosexist inc ident or circumstance; what cumulative experiences of oppression or other forms of adversi ty she may have had and how she dealt with such s i tua t ions i n the past; how much nurturing she received from her family or others i n her environment; and how stable and pos i t i ve a sense of i d e n t i t y she has, as derived from other important aspects of her l i f e besides her sexual i ty . Part I I : Dealing with Heterosexism Toward a Grounded Theory: Two Preliminary Models O r i g i n a l l y , I intended to create a s ingle model, which I expected to show to par t i c ipant s for v a l i d a t i o n , change according to t h e i r suggestions, and present as the centra l part of th i s 66 thes i s . However, during the l i v e l y focus group session, the model I began with underwent a major change i n s tructure , r e s u l t i n g i n a second model. Since both models are precursors to a t h i r d model, which combines aspects of the f i r s t two models and p a r t l y expresses my grounded theory, I w i l l describe here how each model came about. Development of Model 1 In order to construct Model 1: Lesbian Transformations i n Dealing with Heterosexism, I followed the prac t i ce of categor iz ing the data into core categories and subcategories as out l ined by Strauss and Corbin (1990). My goal was to out l ine a general evolution i n the ways i n which lesbians dealt with heterosexism, since i t seemed c lear that p a r t i c i p a n t s ' s trateg ies and stances had changed over time. Thus, the r e s u l t was a model that traced a path of how women progress from passive to defensive to a c t i v i s t stances i n deal ing with heterosexism as they become stronger i n themselves. In developing the model, I attempted to keep foremost i n mind the importance of using only information e l i c i t e d from interviewees. Where poss ib le , I used t h e i r exact words; th i s pract i ce i s re f l ec ted i n categories l i k e "Take Me or Leave Me" and "No Room i n my L i f e , " and i n such subcategories as "Putting up and shutt ing up" and "Cal l ing i t . " Model 1 consists of f ive themes: I . Hiding I I . Preparing to Come Out I I I . Assert ing Awareness of Being a Lesbian ( o r i g i n a l l y c a l l e d "Self-Focussed Coping") 'Figure 1 Themes i and II and their categories 89 69 IV. Act iv ism ( o r i g i n a l l y c a l l e d "Other-Focussed Coping") V. A Nonheterosexist Society A l l themes except the l a s t one are comprised of the ac tua l s trateg ies and approaches of the women interviewed. The f i f t h theme, "A Nonheterosexist Society ," r e f l e c t s ideals that are valued by par t i c ipant s and that have informed t h e i r responses to heterosexism. It consists of suggestions the par t i c ipant s had as to how society i n general , inc luding gays and lesbians , should work toward dismantl ing i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d oppression of lesbians and gays—and by impl i ca t ion , how i t should correct i t s stance toward other oppressed groups. A l l themes are further div ided into three to eight categories. The categories of themes III and IV are further d iv ided into an average of f ive subcategories, or elements. I began the model construct ion af ter the t h i r d interview, and continued to expand the model as I completed more interviews. The process by which I establ ished connections between themes, categories , and elements included making changes as my way of th inking about the data changed, and adding new pieces of information from part i c ipants during v a l i d a t i o n sessions. The path described by Model 1 i s not meant to be s t r i c t l y l i n e a r ; i t only approximates the t ra jec tory of the women's experiences, seen c o l l e c t i v e l y . For th i s reason, I chose a somewhat amorphously shaped layout for the model: some of the women have used some of the s trategies i n some of the categories , and the r e s u l t i s a composite of these. Nevertheless, there d id 70 seem to be an evolut ion from less to more e f f ec t ive ways of coping, as the fol lowing excerpts i l l u s t r a t e : . . . I 've . . . learned to compromise a b i t ? Like I think when I f i r s t came out, you kind of go through that f i r s t coming out phase where you're total ly , l i k e (pause, then emphatical ly:) I t ' s gotta be this way, th i s way, th i s way, th i s way! Everybody's gotta accept me, i t ' s gonna be great , and i f they don't accept me, screw them, blah blah blah . . . . But I think, through work and (pause) growing . . . a b i t older . . . just a few more years of experience i n being out, and just who I am, I think I've learned to negotiate things a b i t more? And learning that, l i k e , I want change to happen, [but] i t might not happen r i g h t now. . . . i t gets better as I get o lder . I used to get r e a l l y angry or r e a l l y , you know, upset and just say "Yeah? Well fuck you too!" . . . And now, i t ' s l i k e , wel l god, you know, how human of them . . . . . . maybe they're curious! Right, I can s t a r t to think i n a d i f f erent way. You know? L i k e , and ac tua l ly f ee l proud that they're looking at me. Right? . . . . That's been more my experience recent ly . I t ' s , "Yeah! Look at me!" You know? "I am with a woman! And that ' s d i f f e r e n t , i s n ' t i t ? " You know, and i t ' s l i k e , not coming from a (pause) fear place! I t ' s coming from, "Why wouldn't they l o o k ? " . . . You know, they . . . probably haven't seen many women walking down the s treet holding hands together l i k e t h i s , r ight? . . . And so, i t ' s kinda thinking of (pause) d i f f erent kinda p o s s i b i l i t i e s that are not informed by fear . Given the nature of the changes described here and i n other interviews, I f e l t the general transformation had to do with increased a b i l i t y to imaginatively take the part of the person with whom one i s deal ing , as well as to take things less personal ly and r e a l i z e people's l i m i t a t i o n s . Factors c i t e d by par t i c ipant s as leading to more e f fec t ive s trategies were age, experience, working through i n t e r n a l i z e d homophobia, and becoming more comfortable with oneself . Because the process of working 71 through i n t e r n a l i z e d homophobia was implied i n much of the interview material and confirmed as important i n v a l i d a t i o n sessions, I placed i t as a l i n k between Themes III and IV ("Self- Focussed Coping" and "Other-Focussed Coping"). "A Nonheterosexist Society" represented the endpoint of th i s model. Development of Model 2 When I had completed Model 1, I showed i t to a l l p a r t i c i p a n t s , three i n d i v i d u a l l y and the other f ive i n a focus group. As mentioned, during the focus group the model underwent a s i g n i f i c a n t change. F i r s t , i t was pointed out that " ident i fy ing and working through i n t e r n a l i z e d homophobia" does not occur at any one point i n a l e sb ian ' s l i f e , but takes place throughout her l i f e t i m e . I t was further recognized that the same could be sa id for the processes of "Seeking Support" and "Releasing Emotions," which I had designated as categories within the "Self-Focussed Coping" theme. There was also discuss ion of whether "Coming Out" could r e a l l y be regarded as a d i scre te category, since several women f e l t they came out repeatedly to new people and i n various s i tuat ions throughout t h e i r l i v e s . During the focus group, "Self-Focussed Coping" was changed to "Asserting Awareness of Being a Lesbian," s ince , the group agreed, the behaviours associated with th i s theme were a natura l continuation of those connected with Themes I and I I , "Hiding," and "Preparing to Come Out." The most s i g n i f i c a n t change occurred when a discuss ion took 72 place about the "evolutionary"—and therefore h i e r a r c h i c a l — structure of my model. While some women f e l t the path I had l a i d out re f l ec ted t h e i r experience accurate ly , others f e l t i t was too l i n e a r , and hinted that i t had a p r e s c r i p t i v e qua l i ty about i t . That i s , according to my scheme, i t seemed that some s trateg ies for deal ing with heterosexism were inherent ly "better" than others, and that t h e i r order of placement along the path re f l ec ted a judgment. Discussion at times turned into somewhat intense—though I bel ieve not hostile—argument. The placement of "Attacking Back" i n an e a r l i e r phase than "Confronting," for instance, was questioned. Some par t i c ipant s f e l t that th i s placement was correc t , saying that attacking was an insecure stance, whereas confronting derived from fee l ings of se l f -worth and se l f -ent i t l ement . Others f e l t that because s trategies such as get t ing angry, arguing, or in t imidat ing an attacker were often necessary or appropriate , they were no less "evolved" than s trategies i n the "Confronting" category. One p a r t i c i p a n t objected to the category name "Attacking Back," i n that i t automatical ly implied defensiveness. For th i s reason, the category appears i n Model 2 as "Fighting Back," which I f e l t implied an act ive stance, but not necessar i ly h o s t i l e or v i n d i c t i v e . After much back-and-forth regarding the impl icat ions of an evolutionary s tructure , someone suggested that the s trateg ies be l a i d out i n a c i r c l e , on "spokes" of a wheel, with "A Nonheterosexist Society" i n the centre. This way, the impl i ca t ion  74 that any one strategy was better than another could be done away with, along with the idea that a lesbian t y p i c a l l y went through a ser ies of phases i n a p a r t i c u l a r order. The c i r c l e emphasized the fact that nonheterosexist ideals could be approached from any number of equal ly v a l i d angles. A lesb ian t y p i c a l l y moved from one strategy to another depending on the s i t u a t i o n . Some women also agreed that the c i r c u l a r s tructure allowed room for more and d i f f ere n t s trategies than the ones that emerged from my interviews; that i s , the number of spokes could eas i l y be expanded to accommodate an i n f i n i t e number of approaches, stemming from an i n f i n i t e number of philosophies or personal s t y l e s . I t was further proposed that "Hiding" and "Preparing to Come Out" lead into the wheel, s ince the dec is ion to come out i s tantamount to committing oneself to deal ing with at t i tudes and s i tuat ions r e s u l t i n g from heterosexism, or "entering the wheel." Another woman suggested that the continuing processes, such as i d e n t i f y i n g and working through i n t e r n a l i z e d homophobia, be placed around the circumference of the wheel. This change would solve the problem of such processes being misrepresented as evolut ionary phases or segments thereof; instead, they would be shown as always relevant to every l e sb ian , regardless of her approach to heterosexism. In a subsequent, one-to-one v a l i d a t i o n meeting, a p a r t i c i p a n t pointed out that the goals included i n Theme V were not simply about s t r i v i n g for a nonheterosexist soc iety , but 75 about creat ing a more egalitarian society; that i s , working to achieve these goals was u l t imate ly a contr ibut ion to promoting acceptance of d i f ference genera l ly . Therefore, i n Model 2 the endpoint, or centre of the c i r c l e , has been r e l a b e l l e d "A More E g a l i t a r i a n Society ." The l a s t p a r t i c i p a n t with whom I met for a v a l i d a t i o n session preferred the f i r s t model to the second, because she bel ieved the process of learning to deal with heterosexism was evolut ionary. She added that she d id not understand how such s trateg ies as "Being v i o l e n t , " "Being v i n d i c t i v e , " or "Choosing not to come out" could be interpreted as leading toward a more e g a l i t a r i a n society; she f e l t they had more to do with protect ing oneself than about taking s o c i a l l y construct ive ac t ion . Together, we discussed a l ternate models that would r e f l e c t th i s concept: for example, two separate c i r c l e s , or a s p i r a l . We agreed, however, that th i s type of re s truc tur ing would s t i l l involve making choices about which s trategies were more "progressive" or evolved than others . When, over the phone,. I described the problem to one of the par t i c ipant s who had been at the focus session, she stated her b e l i e f that what had happened during the focus group was p a r t l y a r e f l e c t i o n of " p o l i t i c a l correctness": that i s , everyone had been attempting to be " fa ir" by not p lac ing one way of coping above another, i n accordance with a l esb ian feminist e t h i c a l p r i n c i p l e of doing away with h ierarchy. When I l a t e r spoke by phone to another p a r t i c i p a n t who had 76 attended the focus session, I discovered that she had agreed with my f i r s t model. She bel ieved her way of deal ing with heterosexism had evolved, becoming more e f fec t ive over t ime—partly because she had become more confident i n her sexual i ty , and p a r t l y because she was better equipped verba l ly to f ind e f f ec t ive words and phrases to oppose heterosexist ideas. In her view, one stage need not be seen as "better" than another, but simply as a s ign of increased awareness. In her view, another drawback to the c i r c u l a r model was that i t seemed to imply an "endpoint" ( i . e . , the middle) , or "nowhere to go," whereas my f i r s t model, which was more l i n e a r , seemed to allow room for growth i n the form of new stages. Model 3 and Statement of Grounded Theory In weighing what various par t i c ipant s had sa id , I concluded that the two models each had unique strengths. Therefore, I created a t h i r d model that I hoped would combine the best features of the f i r s t two. Model 3 re ta ins an "evolutionary" base, since a l l par t i c ipant s seemed to indicate that t h e i r ways of deal ing with heterosexism had become more e f f ec t ive over time. However, i t s s p i r a l s tructure may better represent a nonprescr ipt ive , nonlinear pattern; one that implies that various approaches or stances are at times r e v i s i t e d . 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Such s trategies comprise the categories "Protect Se l f and/or Chi ldren" and "Choose to Ignore." In Model 3 , these categories come under the heading "Protective Stance." Strategies such as putt ing re la t ionsh ips on hold, deciding to avoid heterosexist people or places , and arguing a l l involve making statements to others as wel l as defending oneself . Therefore, the categories to which they belong, "No Room in my L i f e " and "Fight Back," have been designated an "Active Stance." And f i n a l l y , I have placed the categories "Take Me or Leave me," "Confront," and "Educate," under "Proactive Stance," because they seem to be employed mainly to work toward dismantling heterosexism. It should be noted that while the s trategies placed further toward the centre of the s p i r a l may be more "evolved," they are not necessary more useful than the s trategies of e a r l i e r stances. Usefulness depends on circumstances, personal s t y l e , one's object ive , and so f o r t h . To say that a lesbian sometimes uses the "Proactive Stance" s trategies simply means that she has widened her reper to ire to include them, not that she need maintain that stance. A strategy i n the "Protective Stance," such as moving one's ch i ldren out of a heterosexist school environment, may also be proact ive; however, the emphasis i s on r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to oneself or o n e ' s , c h i l d r e n , rather than on s o c i a l ac t iv i sm. Because Model 3 reta ins the c i r c u l a r s tructure of Model 2, i t can s t i l l represent the processes of "Identifying and working through i n t e r n a l i z e d homophobia," "Seeking support," and "Releasing emotions" as cont inual ones; they appear around the circumference as before. However, a f ter further r e f l e c t i o n on the focus group d iscuss ion , I made "Coming out" appear cont inual as we l l , as several women expressed the view that there are "layers" of coming out, and that lesbians come out to d i f f erent people, and i n new s i tua t ions , throughout t h e i r l i v e s . F i n a l l y , upon some r e f l e c t i o n , I changed "An E g a l i t a r i a n Society" back to "A Nonheterosexist Society ." In doing so, I am not implying that the par t i c ipant s do not seek to create a more equitable society for everyone. Moreover, I recognize that any measure of success i n r i g h t i n g i n j u s t i c e s toward lesbian and gay people would l i k e l y have pos i t ive reverberations for other oppressed groups. However, most of the p a r t i c u l a r goals mentioned i n interviews had relevance for lesbian and gay people s p e c i f i c a l l y . I wish to avoid implying that t h e i r f u l f i l l m e n t would necessar i ly achieve equal i ty for other marginalized or discr iminated-against groups. Summary of the Theory The data from par t i c ipant s indicates that lesbians become more e f f ec t ive i n deal ing with heterosexism over time. By "more e f f ec t ive ," I mean both that the women seem to have become more comfortable i n themselves, and that they deal with heterosexism 82 i n more powerful ways. The o v e r a l l movement i s from fear (Hiding) , to deciding to assert one's lesbian iden t i ty (Preparing to Come Out), to using s e l f - p r o t e c t i v e s trategies (Protect ive Stance), to making a statement to others (Active Stance), to contr ibut ing to the idea l of a nonheterosexist society (Proactive Stance). E s s e n t i a l features i n the evolut ion of more e f fec t ive s trategies are the ongoing processes of working through and i d e n t i f y i n g i n t e r n a l i z e d homophobia, coming out, re leas ing emotions, and seeking support. Also important i n a l e sb ian ' s transformation, as evident from interview mater ia l , are a decrease i n defensiveness, an increase i n anger d irec ted away from the s e l f and toward "systems," a better understanding of other people's standpoints, and an acknowledgement that people need time to absorb and r e f l e c t on information. Strategies Used i n Dealing with Heterosexism In th i s sect ion , approaches and s trategies for deal ing with heterosexism w i l l be presented, according to Model 3 , i n the fol lowing order: Hiding , Preparing to Come out, Continuing Processes, Protect ive Stance, Act ive Stance, and Proactive Stance. Hiding Although not a l l the par t i c ipants talked of ear ly phases of coping with heterosexism, a pattern emerged from the ones who d i d . Sometimes the information emerged spontaneously; other 83 times, i t was e l i c i t e d i n response to the question, "Do you think your way of coping with heterosexism has changed over time?" Common to a l l the women who spoke about i n i t i a l coping was the f ee l ing they had to hide the truth about t h e i r sexual o r i e n t a t i o n . For Delyse, h id ing came from "a place of f ear ." This may apply to the other women as we l l , as i l l u s t r a t e d by the examples of t h e i r various ways of h id ing . Avoiding. For at l east some interviewees, becoming conscious of l esb ian fee l ings led to d i f f erent kinds of avoidance. Rae avoided by doing drugs. Susan drank a l o t i n high school , and l a t e r i so la ted herse l f for several years, working "eighteen hours a day, seven days a week." When Marg f i r s t became aware of her lesbian fee l ings , she denied them: . . . I was very fr ightened. And when my brother asked me i f I was queer—he goes, "Are you queer? You're not queer, are you, Marg?"—and I went, "Oh no no no not me, not me!" (Both laugh.) And I proceeded to, you know . . . there was a coupla guys that I had had i n and outta my l i f e l i k e , one guy . . . I had dated when I was sixteen and I t r i e d to make a go with him, 'cause i t was l i k e , "I have to do t h i s . " Hanging onto heterosexual i ty . Three of the women interviewed made reference to having had heterosexual re la t ionsh ips before coming out as l esb ians . A l l three spoke of pressure to date men or get married, and at least two par t i c ipant s have been married. The fol lowing excerpt from my conversation with Marg shows how she f i r s t t r i e d to adhere to a heterosexual r o l e : M: . . . I know I wrote i n my diary at that time that i f I was ever with another woman I would never go back to being with a man again (laughs s l i g h t l y ) . And I always knew that i f we broke up I would never be with another man, l i k e — 8 4 E : —So you knew that even then. M: I knew that then . . . then we s tarted planning to get married and I was very busy planning the marriage and then a f ter that I was very busy between work and wanting to have ch i ldren . . . And then I got pregnant, and then I was busy being pregnant, and then I was busy being a mother, which, as I t o l d you, was hard! (Laughs) Very f u l f i l l — v e r y " f i l l i n g , " not, I don't know i f " f u l f i l l i n g " i s the word, but very " f i l l i n g " . . . Cheryl too re la tes that she was wel l into her marriage and c h i l d - r e a r i n g before she r e a l i z e d she that she was a lesbian and that there were a l t ernat ives to staying i n a t r a d i t i o n a l family: . . . I d i d n ' t even come out as a l esb ian u n t i l , l i k e , maybe four and a ha l f years ago . . . I was married for about seven years. Urn, and I think, l i k e , my l i f e was so harsh when I was a k i d . And so hard, that just surv iv ing i t was enough, never mind thinking about being a dyke. Yet, I remember, at the time, many times, f e e l i n g , urn, lov ing fee l ings toward fr iends , or sexual fee l ings toward fr i ends . But I never thought, "Sexual fee l ings , I'm a dyke" (laughs a b i t ) . I just thought—I d i d n ' t — I d i d n ' t think anything. 'Cause you know, i t was surv iv ing and gett ing through. Right? But they were there. But then, you know, I needed to get married, r ight? . . . I needed to have kids . . . I never thought of l esbians , r e a l l y . It was never mentioned i n our home, there was nobody that I knew that were lesb ians , urn, except now, I think, that those two women next door when we l i v e d i n that l i t t l e town were not s i s t e r s l i k e my mother t o l d us! "Putting up and shutt ing up". A few women described th i s way of coping as c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of t h e i r ear ly struggles with heterosexism. The phrase i s Rae's, but J u l i e also said she used to to lerate oppressive comments and behaviour far more than she does now. Rae noted that she often f e l t the need to protect herse l f—for example, i n a work s i t u a t i o n . She was also aware of protect ing others from t h e i r own prejudiced way of th ink ing , by asking herse l f , "What does a heterosexual think of what I'm about 85 to say?" and then choosing her words c a r e f u l l y . Preparing to Come Out Another group of behaviours appeared to be intermediate steps between f i r s t awareness and assert ing one's lesbian i d e n t i t y . As such, they might be sa id to const i tute a "bridge" between t r y i n g to escape heterosexist at t i tudes and a c t i v e l y deal ing with them. Evaluat ing others' opinions. J u l i e r e c a l l e d t r y i n g to make sense of the messages about homosexuality, both pos i t i ve and negative, that she heard i n high school . On one occasion, a male student was defending people's freedom to be gay, while J u l i e l i s t ened and two other students were "just r o l l i n g t h e i r eyes a l i t t l e b i t when he was ta lk ing": . . . and he l e f t and I made a comment, sa id "Well he has some, you know, in teres t ing things to say." And they sa id , "Well, yeah, he was ta lk ing about gays and you seemed to agree with every word he sa id , ha ha!" And they both kind of laughed . . . And .1 sa id to them, I sa id , "Well, does s i l ence equal agreement?" And they sa id , "Well, i t r e a l l y seemed l i k e i t , I mean, you just kept nodding your head and not d isagree ing ." Kind of l i k e that . So . . . I was os trac ized for not even, not even l i k e e x p l i c i t l y agreeing with th i s person but just for not arguing with him . . . Susan r e c a l l s "testing the waters" at the dinner tab le : E : You ac tua l ly heard people saying that lesbians were e v i l , and s tu f f l i k e that . S: Yeah. (Pause) In church, and at home. I used to play with my dad and, at family dinners, "So, what about c a p i t a l punishment?" (Both laugh s l i g h t l y . ) Oh, and about homosexuals? Oh, how . . . ? " There was l i k e , four or f i v e r e a l , get 'im s tarted , get 'im going type of t op i c s . 86 Lis ten ing to oneself . O r i g i n a l l y , I had named the above strategy ("Evaluating others' opinions") "Listening to others ." When the women i n the focus group saw that I had included i t as a part of "Preparing to Come Out," they added "Listening to oneself ," by which they meant get t ing i n touch with one's true fee l ings , as opposed to what one thinks one should f e e l . Giving others "signs". Marg re la ted how she had f e l t the need to "warn" her husband-to-be that she had been intimate with a woman: . . . something ins ide me just sa id , " T e l l ' im. T e l l ' im, t e l l ' im, t e l l ' im. Don't be intimate with him before you t e l l ' im!" You know, and so the night that we had planned, I t o l d him! I sa id , "I have to t e l l you t h i s , i t ' s very important," and he got upset, and he l e f t , and . . . we talked on the phone, and I sa id , "Well you know, don't hate me because of t h i s . You know I, I don't know what i t means . . . . " Coming out to one's male partner. Af ter a long i n t e r n a l s truggle , Marg got up the courage to come out to her husband. She described the c o n f l i c t that then ensued: . . . he was very angry at f i r s t , and I don't blame him, l i k e I mean he had th i s perfect l i f e , he got to go f i s h i n g and when he came home from his job . . . there was his wife and kids and a nice house and, you know he had th i s family ... you know, he sa id , "Oh, we can be f r i ends ," and, and, I honestly thought that he was, l i k e , being t r u t h f u l . Urn, which turned out, you know, he wasn't . . . he sa id , "Well you stay here, and you know, we can have sex once a month. Everything w i l l be okay, r ight?" And I sa id , " T . , I'm a lesbian. I can't have sex any more Leaving one's male partner . For both Cheryl and Marg, t h i s step i n t h e i r lesbian ident i ty development appears to have been the key to opening up other options: 87 E : Can you pinpoint . . . what i t was that changed things for you so that you were allowed suddenly to think about women i n that way? C: Urn, probably because I was (pause) free of marriage and I had choices i n front of me. Like I d i d n ' t have to be backed up against that wal l that I had been for the f i r s t , l i k e , twenty-six years of my l i f e . . . I saw that there was another choice . . . Marg conveyed the bewilderment such a dec i s ion can br ing at f i r s t : M: L i k e , I don't think I ever had [such] . . . a range of emotions. From being extremely happy and excited to knowing th i s new world had opened up to me, and, and, how quick ly the o l d one was gonna be disappearing, to "Oh my god!" l i k e the o ld world i s disappearing (laughs s l i g h t l y ) , you know . . . E : Wel l , you're lo s ing something at the same time that you're gaining something (yeah!), i t ' s very confusing. M: It was a death and a b i r t h at the same time. Seeing oneself as b i sexual . Delyse sa id she made the t r a n s i t i o n from heterosexual i ty to homosexuality by seeing herse l f as bisexual for some years: . . . wel l I d i d n ' t come out as bisexual e i ther , but i t was to myself that I , I kind of framed i t ? You know and i t f e l t , kinda more, uh, dealable with (both laugh s l i g h t l y ) than ac tua l ly saying I was a lesbian . . . She added that because she was involved with a man when she discovered her fee l ings for women, b i sexua l i ty was a way of explaining these fee l ings to herse l f . Moreover, because she i d e n t i f i e d as a born-again C h r i s t i a n at the time, she f e l t her r e l i g i o n d i d not allow her to accept homosexuality as an opt ion . Giving up her r e l i g i o n gave her the freedom to gradual ly do so. 88 Finding information. When Cheryl became aware of her l e sb ian fee l ings , she found support from a book i n the l i b r a r y before seeking out other lesbians: . . . I saw that there was another choice. No matter what anybody sa id , there was. You know (exclaiming): i f there's a book on i t i n the l i b r a r y , other people are doin' i t ! (Both laugh.) . . . and I knew that there were lesbians and gay men everywhere. I mean, I knew that! Though I d i d n ' t meet them. (Laughs a b i t ) Or, thought I never met them . . . Moving to a larger c i t y . Denise discussed the d i f f i c u l t y of coming out i n a place where everyone knew her. Her move to Vancouver provided her both with a chance to e s tab l i sh her sexual iden t i t y i n new surroundings, and to f ind support from the lesbian and gay community that she knew existed here: . . . I moved p a r t l y to be more out? Because I grew up i n Winnipeg. And I . . . worked with young people and I worked with a l o t t a young k ids , too . . . working at camps i n the summertime and going to school , and then coaching i n un ivers i ty and s tuf f , so I f e l t l i k e I knew a l o t of kids i n a f a i r l y small c i t y . Where I f e l t l i k e , I could walk down the s treet and . . . . . who knows who' l l be around the next corner (laughing), some l i t t l e k i d that saw me as Robin Hood one summer, you know, and just f e l t r e a l l y , r e a l l y c loseted that way? . . . . I f ee l I have a community here, and a community that ' s supportive. Thus, part of deal ing with heterosexism can be f inding or creat ing an environment i n which a l esb ian fee ls safe to come out, i n that she has some contro l over when to d i sc lose and to whom, and knows there w i l l be others who can help to va l ida te her lesbian i d e n t i t y . 89 Continuing Processes According to p a r t i c i p a n t s , these processes are engaged i n by lesbians on an ongoing basis throughout t h e i r l i v e s , regardless of the s trategies or approaches they use to deal with heterosexism. Coming Out V i r t u a l l y a l l the women interviewed referred e i ther to "coming out" or "being out" as an important part of deal ing with heterosexism. In the focus group, par t i c ipant s agreed that coming out was something done cont inual ly throughout a l e sb ian ' s l i f e . For th i s reason, they disagreed with my conceptual izat ion of i t i n Model 1 as a d i scre te process. In Model 2, i t i s included with seven other strategy categories i n a nonlinear pattern, so that i t can be seen as a strategy one can return to again and again. In Model 3, i t i s shown as an ongoing, l i f e l o n g process, along with "Identifying and working through i n t e r n a l i z e d homophobia," "Seeking support," and "Releasing emotions." Even where they met with negative react ions , interviewees saw coming out as a pos i t ive step that helped them to s o l i d i f y t h e i r lesbian i d e n t i t i e s . Delyse expressed the s ign i f i cance of coming out to oneself as the f i r s t step i n the coming out process: D: [coming out] was kind of a choice and I f e l t r e a l l y p o s i t i v e about myself . . . i n the time up to that , I could say I f e l t the ef fects of homophobia that were much more negative? . . . And then coming out, and I f e l t . . . r e a l l y kind of good, and I f e l t high for about a year, r i g h t , you know, i t ' s l i k e "Yes! This i s who I am!" E : So, was that because the condit ions around you had changed, 90 or was that because you had changed? D: Because I ' d come to terms with, uh (pause), my sexual i ty . . . the working through a l o t of that [ in ternal ized] homophobia was . . . i n the years af ter that . You know, of l i k e , f e e l i n g bad about i t . . . 'cause I had a few sexual experiences before I came out, with women and, and fee l ing (pause) r e a l l y uncomfortable? You know . . . l i k e somebody was watching me? (Laughs) You know, that kind of fee l ing? Urn, and just couldn't re lax and then when I came out i t was t o t a l l y d i f f erent . . . . that whole process of, of ac tua l ly coming out to yourse l f I think i s r e a l l y c r u c i a l — o r can be, i t was for me, I t h i n k — c r u c i a l i n addressing heterosexism and homophobia i n terms of myself. Like Delyse, a l l the lesbians i n th i s study indicated that , u l t imate ly , coming out helped increase t h e i r comfort level—even though doing so sometimes meant deal ing with others' react ions of shock, fear, anger, or d e n i a l . For instance, i n Marg's case (presented above), coming out to her husband brought out the p a i n f u l t ruth about her fee l ings regarding t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p , yet represented an important step i n her eventual r e a l i z a t i o n of a lesbian i d e n t i t y . And although Rae was upset about not being offered a job for which she was a prime candidate, she a lso f e l t good about not working for a c l e a r l y heterosexist agency. Coming out to f r i ends . Denise made sure she had a "safety net" i n the form of a support network when she came out: D: . . . I th ink, for the most part , i n my l i f e , I've been f a i r l y successful at avoiding, l i k e , fr iends saying "I'm not gonna be your f r i end any more," or people i n my l i f e saying "I don't wanna have anything to do with you"? E : How have you managed to do that? D: (Laughing) . . . I think i t ' s just . . . urn, coming out the way I did? I don't know. Like I t o l d a l l my s tra ight fr iends f i r s t . . . I just t o l d c e r t a i n people f i r s t ? And, and made sure that I had some s tra ight fr iends who were supportive, 'cause I d i d n ' t have a gay or lesbian community to support me, when I came out? 9 1 Lee, on the other hand, has had the experience of being abandoned by fr iends once she came out to them—as have a number of women i n th i s sample. She sa id she had reached a point where she no longer wished to deal with fee l ings of shock and b e t r a y a l , or to put energy into a re la t ionsh ip that was not v iab l e : . . . th i s one woman who's become a great f r i e n d , I think three days af ter knowing her, I just sa id to her, "I'm gay! If you have a problem with that , l e t ' s not even bother t r y i n g to be fr iends because I don't wanna bother going through a l l th i s to have you, you know, sh i t a l l over me." . . . And she was just l i k e , "Oh! Well I think I kinda knew that you were gay. I think everybody sorta knows you're gay and urn, J don't see i t as a problem!" So i t was l i k e , "Oh great, then we can get along with being f r i ends ," you know? Coming out to family members. Marg's r e l i e f upon coming out to her parents and ch i ldren seems to have been proportionate with the degree of s t r a i n she f e l t staying i n the c loset throughout her nine-year marriage: M: It got to the point where every time I looked at [daughter] I had to t e l l her. But I knew that I couldn't say i t was a secret? I d i d n ' t wanna say, i t ' s a secret , don't t e l l anybody. 'Cause . . . i t wasn't a secret! . . . that ' s why I t o l d my mom and dad, within a month . . . . Because . . . to me, th i s i s something that needed to be sa id ! E : . . . i f you bot t l e i t i n , then, you're s t i l l l e f t with the f ee l ing that there's something shameful. M: Yeah. And I d i d n ' t wanna f ee l the shame. I think, and I sa id that to Mom, "You know what I f ee l ashamed of, i s the fact that a l l these years, I d i d n ' t (pause) know I had the r i g h t to be who I wanted to be." Like Marg, Cheryl found i t c r u c i a l to t e l l her ch i ldren she was a lesbian so she could continue to have an honest, open re la t i onsh ip with them. Cheryl too concluded that coming out to her ch i ldren could only be a pos i t i ve th ing: . . . you're only g iv ing them more choices, broadening t h e i r 92 horizons. You know? Yeah, and I always had i n the back of my mind whether I was a lesbian or s t r a i g h t , that there were l o t s a d i f f e r e n t people out there, l o t s a choices , l o t s of experiences, l o t s of things to partake of . . . So th i s was just (pause) another th ing . You know? So i t was no b ig deal 1 I t o l d the kids l i k e , r i g h t away. L i k e , r i g h t when I f i r s t s tarted th inking about i t , I t o l d them that I was th inking about i t . Coming out at work. Without ac t ive ly intending to educate others about heterosexism, lesbians sometimes end up "teaching" people about i t through a s ingle act of coming out. Denise's story about coming out i n a work s i t u a t i o n once more i l l u s t r a t e s how coming out can be b e n e f i c i a l not just to the lesbian herse l f , but to those i n her environment. When Denise worked as a camp counse l lor , she p a r t i c i p a t e d i n a values sharing exercise with other counsel lors wherein each person was to t e l l a partner t h e i r answer to the question, "What would you do i f your son or daughter t o l d you that they were gay?" After d iscuss ion i n p a i r s , par t i c ipant s were to report to the group what t h e i r partners had sa id: D: . . . So we were going around and one person sa id . . . "I would never accept i t , yeah, I 'd throw my k i d outta the house . . . they would have to change i t so they can't be gay," blah blah blah, l i k e a l l those things, and l i k e , i t got to me? And my partner sa id , "Well, D. would be r e a l l y accepting (laughs s l i g h t l y ) , because she's a l e sb ian ." And I just sat there and a coupla people just . . . kinda, l i k e went blank. (Pause) . . . and then one of the guys came up to me and we had a t a l k a f t e r . I t was kinda l i k e , you know, a l i t t l e uneasy, a b i t ? E : You mean, he f e l t bad about what he'd s a i d . D: I think he f e l t bad about what he'd s a i d . And then we had a discuss ion about i t , and I just sa id , "You know, I understand where you're coming from? L i k e , I don't expect you to t o t a l l y accept me, but th i s i s who I am, and I thought i t was important for you to know? . . . 'cause you're gonna be working with me th i s summer, and, you know, i t 93 af fects how I am? And, you know, by the end of the summer . . . he sa id "You know, I'm glad that we worked together. Like I've learned a l o t . " As Rae commented, deciding whether or not to come out at work often takes a great deal of energy, while a lesbian ca lcu la tes whether the advantages w i l l outweigh the disadvantages—or i n some cases, whether she bel ieves her job i s at stake. In the above example, Denise was already out to a number of people at the camp and f e l t secure i n her p o s i t i o n . J u l i e , as I have mentioned, found i t easier not to be out at work, since she bel ieved her conservative co-workers would be uncomfortable with i t and therefore make her f ee l uncomfortable. Seeking Support Like coming out, seeking support i s an ongoing process for lesbians; hence, i n Models 2 and 3, i t i s placed around the circumference of the large c i r c l e , rather than conceptualized as a d i scre te coping behaviour. Part i c ipants often spoke of support- seeking i n connection with coming out. Supportive people, whether s t ra igh t f r i ends , other lesb ians , partners , family , co-workers, or therapis t s , play an important ro le i n a l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' l i v e s . Seeking support from heterosexual f r i ends . Denise mentioned making sure she had some heterosexual fr iends who would provide support when she f i r s t came out, s ince she d id not know many other lesbian or gay people at the time. Seeking support from lesbian f r i ends . Soc ia l support from other lesbians was mentioned by par t i c ipant s more frequently than 94 any other kind of support. In Susan's case, for instance, l e sb ian fr iends appear to have been c r u c i a l i n helping her make the t r a n s i t i o n from fee l ings of a l i ena t ion and h o s t i l i t y to an acceptance of her lesbian i d e n t i t y . Seeking support from the lesbian community. Some par t i c ipant s saw the community as having the same r o l e , for them, as Susan's fr iends had for her. Since the community gives re sp i t e from the f ee l ing of being part of a sexual minori ty , i t can help great ly to bo l s ter a pos i t ive sense of oneself as a l e sb ian . It can also be an out le t for anger toward a predominantly heterosexist world. Delyse explained the spec ia l value the l esb ian community held for her af ter she f i r s t began to assert her lesbian i d e n t i t y : . . . deep down, I was not (pause) secure about, uh, my sexual i ty? You know, i t ' s l i k e on one l e v e l I f e l t good about i t , but I know that I had to keep working at i t ? You know, because I couldn't just kind of re lax and not think about i t . It was l i k e t h i s , th i s awareness that I had to work out a l l the time, r ight? So, being . . . more i n the community and connecting helped to give me that strength to (pause) be more secure. In who I was. Rae f e l t that shared experiences form a basis for lesbians to support each other, even though there are wide di f ferences i n t h e i r persona l i t i e s and values: . . . I think, yeah, about get t ing support, l i k e I l i v e with lesbians . . . I have a l o t of lesbians i n my l i f e ! And not even people that I'm p a r t i c u l a r l y close to—some of them I am p a r t i c u l a r l y close to, but not a l o t of them . . . but yeah, we have had shared understanding of what i t ' s l i k e to be excluded and what i t ' s l i k e to be (pause) name-called . . . and I think that, that i s coping! And that i s r e l y i n g on that shared lesbian iden t i ty . . . we have those . . . common experiences of l i k e , being shunned or being excluded or being hurt . . . 95 Seeking support from one's- partner . J u l i e implied that , i n a world that f a i l s to treat l esbian re la t ionsh ips with the same respect i t accords to heterosexual ones, a close a l l i a n c e with one's partner i s an important buf fer . Hence, the very r e l a t i o n s h i p that e l i c i t s scorn i s the key source of support for both women: I t ' s just an automatic assumption, wel l i f you're two g i r l s , you're f r i ends . Or you're—(whispers) lezzies! You know (laughs), whisper whisper . . . Or they don't take i t as ser ious ly? And that ' s very patron iz ing . Very heterosexist . . . . It . . . [ h u r t s more] as time goes by? Because when you get more into a re la t i onsh ip i t becomes more important and (pause) i t ' s a larger part of your l i f e . I think you f ee l these things, or at l east J do, a l o t more. And . . . we t a l k about them, and we think about them, and you know, having discuss ions , sometimes that ra i ses awareness as well? Or brings i t c loser to home . . . . 'Cause we've discussed that sometimes and, and, you know, we both get angry and s i t there i n the car and swear. ( F u r t i v e l y : ) "Stupid heterosexuals!" (Both laugh.) I mean, sometimes we just joke around, because . . . you know you have to sometimes make l i g h t of the s i t u a t i o n just for yourselves just so that you don't get (pause) into a rut of negat iv i ty . C l e a r l y a l e sb ian ' s partner can play a key ro le i n helping to reduce fee l ings of i s o l a t i o n and marginal i ty . Cheryl too expressed her good fortune at having found a partner who joined her i n opposing heterosexist a t t i tudes , and who shared her b e l i e f about being out to the ch i ldren and to the p u b l i c . Seeking support from co-workers. Among the women I interviewed, degree of support i n the work environment ranged from outr ight h o s t i l i t y to t o t a l endorsement. At one extreme, Lee once had a boss who c a l l e d her a "fucking queer" and sa id that he wanted her "the h e l l out of the place"; at the other extreme, Denise received complete support for coming out i n a job 96 interview when the two interviewers were lesbian and b i sexua l . Among th i s sample, more pos i t i ve , less heterosexist job experiences general ly occurred when a s i g n i f i c a n t percentage of the s t a f f was gay or l e sb ian . Seeking support from therapy. Only one par t i c ipant mentioned seeking therapy, but spoke of i t as a pos i t i ve inf luence i n her l i f e . The subject came up i n c i d e n t a l l y , when Susan quoted the react ion of a f r i end to whom she had come out: "Oh my god, are you i n therapy?!" Her answer was, "Well yeah, how do you think I got to where I am?" Susan said that therapy had helped her evolve into a more se l f -accept ing person. Releasing Emotions Par t i c ipants i n the v a l i d a t i o n focus group agreed that re leas ing emotions i s constantly necessary i n deal ing with heterosexism, no matter how long a lesbian has been out for , or how much her s trategies or approaches change. Therefore, i n Models 2 and 3, i t i s shown as an ongoing process. In fac t , nearly a l l par t i c ipant s seemed to engage i n release at some point during the interview. The types of release e i ther engaged i n or mentioned by par t i c ipant s were: t a lk ing about one's fee l ings to one's partner, to lesbian or gay fr i ends , or to supportive heterosexual people; expressing anger or rage; having "a good cry"; and using humour or sarcasm. Cry ing . Crying i s one expression of outrage at an unjust s i t u a t i o n . Rae spoke of her sadness and f r u s t r a t i o n when she knew she d id not get offered a job because she was a l e sb ian: 97 And I was sad, too, yeah, I went home and I . . . think I d id have a good cry about i t because (pause) i t ' s not right. I t ' s not f a i r , i t ' s not r i g h t . . . T a l k i n g . Talk ing with other people to whom s i m i l a r things had happened also served to va l idate Rae's experience. And as mentioned above, J u l i e found an out le t for anger and f r u s t r a t i o n by t a l k i n g with her partner . Expressing anger. This strategy d i f f e r s from "Showing anger," one of the s trategies i n the "Fighting Back" category, i n that i t i s used so le ly to unleash emotions rather than to make a po int . Nearly a l l the par t i c ipant s expressed anger at some point during the interview i t s e l f , as Lee d id i n the fol lowing excerpt: I'm shocked that [my parents] haven't gotten used to [my being a lesbian] ( laughing). You know, and I'm shocked that they have such difficulty adapting. And, you know, I've had fr iends that've sa id , you know, "Well, look at the generation they're from," and blah blah blah and i t ' s l i k e , we l l , that ' s b u l l s h i t ! You know, l i k e , people (pause) are adaptable. J u l i e expressed anger toward "the r e l i g i o u s r i g h t wing" and p o l i t i c i a n s who attempt to r e s t r i c t the r ight s of l esbian and gay people: I. f ind that . . . of course highly of fens ive . It makes me very angry. It a lso makes me scared, that there's always the po tent ia l of a backlash, and that . . . we won't obtain these r ights? Because of p o l i t i c i a n s who, the way I look at i t , you know, how dare they impose t h e i r personal b e l i e f s ? On thousands and thousands of people, I mean, what gives them the r i g h t . . . to impose t h e i r values on us and s tuf f? The whole idea of them and us and (pause) them knowing bet ter . And patroniz ing us, t rea t ing us l i k e we're less than they are. 98 Using humour. Humour was used i n a number of d i f f eren t ways. J u l i e saw i t as necessary for avoiding the trap of negat iv i ty that comes from constant awareness of heterosexism. During the interview, she used i t to parody heterosexist a t t i tudes : "Well you know, there are a l o t of lesbians on, Commercial Drive and—" she goes (changing tone of voice) "There's nothing wrong with them or anything." Them, you know, them and us? "But ( in hushed, conf ident ia l tone:) , l i k e , you never know!" And again, my f i r s t impulse was to say, "Don't f l a t t e r yourself"? But of course I contained myself because . . . that ' s attacking her, b a s i c a l l y . . . Lee used humour to express anger at the double standards of behaviour that ex is t for heterosexual and homosexual people: I don't ever, I've never had anybody run up to me and say (whispering) "Oh by the way, I'm heterosexual!" (Both laugh.) "What?" "I'm a heterosexual ." (Both laugh.) "Oh my god!! ! Where d id your mother go wrong?!" You know? (Both laugh.) Marg advised her daughter to use humour as a way of de f l ec t ing teasing: . . . s h e ' l l come home and s h e ' l l go, "Oh I heard t h i s : We must drink homo mi lk ," r ight and, and I laugh and say "That's a good one! Next time they say a joke, say "Oh that's—" i f i t ' s funny. I f i t ' s . . . rude and d i sgust ing , I t h i n k . t h a t , you know, I want to know . . . " Using sarcasm. Sarcasm was used both as a way of countering heterosexist a t t i tudes and occas iona l ly , during interviews, as a form of re lease . Susan reported that she used to use sarcasm as a weapon when she f e l t her i n t e g r i t y was being attacked: I just l i k e d to hurt other people. I f I can't hurt them any other way, I ' l l (pause) beat the snot out of them. I was r e a l l y , really sarcas t i c and r e a l l y snide and r e a l l y , r e a l l y put them down. Although her sarcasm i s no longer used i n th i s way, i t comes out when she remembers how her eldest s i s t e r (who acted as mother to 99 her) treated her when she was growing up: "Like, when i n doubt, judge and condemn. Always think the negative, always think the worst." Marg aimed sarcasm at judgmental heterosexuals as well, s p e c i f i c a l l y those who believe lesbians are obsessed with sex: Oh yeah, we have sex everywhere, l i k e when I'm grocery shopping, or when I'm doing laundry or when I'm t a l k i n ' to my kids about school1 (Laughs s l i g h t l y ) Sarcasm appears i n these examples to be a way of combining anger and humour to create a vehicle for release. Identifying and Working Through Internalized Homophobia Although the phrase "internalized homophobia" was used by only one participant, material from interviews shows the eff e c t s of introjected shame or self-hatred to be profound. Susan described the ef f e c t of her s t r i c t r e l i g i o u s upbringing on her self-image: That was hard. I was into hating myself for being pagan and e v i l and a l l the Christian things that you heard, and (pause) that sex was bad, especially gay sex. Delyse spoke of having been, affected by the idea "that ... lesbians are fucked up," saying that i t caused her to question whether relationships were going to l a s t . Moreover, because of the pervasive stereotype of lesbians as predominantly sexual beings, she had at times begun to doubt her lesbian i d e n t i t y when she was not involved with anyone. Delyse also made reference to working through i n t e r n a l i z e d negative messages i n order to overcome fear of other people's judgments: ... i f I have my own [negative] judgments, l i k e i f they're in there, then ... I'm gonna be affected by other people's 100 judgments because they're just gonna (pause) connect with my own . . . . Whereas . . . i f I deal with my own—get r i d of them . . . and deal with that fear, they're not gonna af fect me. During the v a l i d a t i o n sessions, several par t i c ipant s indicated that i d e n t i f y i n g and working through i n t e r n a l i z e d homophobia was a perpetual process and an i n t e g r a l part of developing a healthy lesbian i d e n t i t y . Protect ive Stance The fol lowing s trategies or approaches centre on respect ing one's r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to oneself or one's c h i l d r e n . Choosing to Ignore Choosing to ignore heterosexist incidents or remarks i s d i s t i n c t from "Hiding," i n that i t involves the exercise of choice once a l e sb ian ' s ident i ty i s c l e a r l y es tabl i shed. "Shaking i t off". Marg, who feels strongly about confronting heterosexism and educating wherever she can, explained that there were times when she f e l t i t best to simply "let things go over": . . . Things that I don't care to hear, l i k e , one day a k i d was i n the school parking l o t . He y e l l e d , "Dyke! Dyke!" and, you know, I heard i t once and I kind of turned around, and then he d i d n ' t say i t again, and then I heard him say i t again, and I just kind of thought, "It's not even worth i t . " Like sometimes i t ' s not worth my trouble . I f he'da been c loser , I prob ' ly would've, you know, approached him. But (pause) I woulda been the bad guy . . . At times, as i n the above example, the choice to ignore i s the choice not to lower oneself to the l e v e l of another's immature behaviour, combined with the dec i s ion not to waste energy on a s i t u a t i o n with l i t t l e po tent ia l ga in . 1 01 Saving energy. J u l i e described an energy-saving strategy as an e a r l i e r method of deal ing with heterosexism, that evolved in to more act ive ways of deal ing as time passed: . . . I went through a stage where people sa id things and I ' d heard i t before and I just ignored i t because I f igured , we l l , I'm not r e a l l y gonna be i n th i s s i t u a t i o n (pause) for a long time or , you know th i s might be a person that I'm meeting and I won't (pause) be meeting them very often, I don't wanna bother . . . I just don't wanna waste the energy. By contrast , Susan came to th i s way of deal ing with heterosexism af ter years of h o s t i l e , aggressive behaviour—and only af ter she had learned to accept herse l f as a l e sb ian . For her, i t represents a "mellowing out" that f i n a l l y brought her some peace: I don't not ice anything. Like people looking at [herse l f and g i r l f r i e n d ] , or i f we're walking down the s treet holding hands or something, l i k e i f they look, yeah whatever, I don't think about i t . . . Or ,a l so I wouldn't not ice unless i t was l i k e really obvious . . . I t ' s not worth my time. (Very long pause) I used to be a l o t more aggressive. In most areas. The above example supports the argument for a model of deal ing with heterosexism that i s not s t r i c t l y l i n e a r . Susan's less e f f ec t ive coping s trategies appear l a t e r under "Active Stance," while for many women, more e f fec t ive s trategies appear there. Refusing to be "token". Rae voiced the necessity to be se l ec t ive about one's ba t t l e s , not simply to conserve energy, but also to avoid the trap of f ee l ing one has to be a representat ive of a l l lesbians—a stance that, she pointed out, i s more damaging than b e n e f i c i a l , i n that i t perpetuates the idea that there i s a s ingle lesbian worldview: R: . . . I don't derive anything from that . . . "This i s what a lesbian i s , th i s i s what a lesbian bel ieves , th i s i s what a lesbian does . . . th i s i s how a lesbian copes I mean i f 102 you toe the party l i n e , a l esbian copes by ( s tress ing every word) being political all the time. That's a load of bunkum! That's t i r i n g ! You can't do i t , nobody can do i t ! You know, nobody can be the token lesbian i n every s i t u a t i o n . And you know, I know, 'cause I've t r i e d ! When I f i r s t came out, that ' s what I thought I was s'posta do! And i t ' s l i k e fuck! You know i t ' s not safe, and i t ' s tiring! E : I t ' s just another box. R: Mm-hm. And then . . . people only see you one way. You are the token l e sb ian , you are not Rae . . . you're not—the ten other things that you are i n your l i f e , you are—the hundred other things you are i n your l i f e ! — y o u are (pause) token l e s b i a n . And then you have to speak for every lesbian as i f you are every l e sb ian . E : (Laughing) That's r i g h t ! R: L i k e , I'm not a black l esb ian , I'm not a disabled l e sb ian , I'm not a Jewish l e sb ian , you know, I'm not! And I don't wanna speak for those people! Besides the wish to avoid misrepresenting other lesbians i s the des ire for a reprieve from always being seen as a l e sb ian , and therefore f ee l ing pressure to "behave" l i k e one. As several par t i c ipant s noted, there does tend to be an orthodoxy or prescribed set of "rules" to which lesbians hold other l e sb ians , and many of the rules are re la ted to the concept of " p o l i t i c a l correctness ." But as Rae observed, pressure can come from outside the community as we l l , and lesbians can f ind themselves overlooked as ind iv idua l s while they are expected to f u l f i l l expectations of what a lesbian i s . Protect ing Sel f and/or Chi ldren This set of behaviours was used to avoid negative consequences, inc luding phys ica l danger, for oneself or one's c h i l d r e n . Not a l l the women agreed that a l l of these behaviours were construct ive , but some f e l t they were appropriate i n c e r t a i n 103 s i t u a t i o n s . Choosing not to come out. Although v i r t u a l l y a l l the lesbians i n th i s sample f e l t i t was important to be out wherever poss ib le , some f e l t that i n some s i tua t ions , the gains from being out would be outweighed by negative consequences. Rae, as mentioned, spoke of the "economic consequences" of being out i n a work s i t u a t i o n , while J u l i e commented on the ongoing s o c i a l discomfort i t can cause the lesbian herse l f i f co-workers react negat ively; J u l i e also mentioned a trade-of f she and her partner made, explaining t h e i r re la t ionsh ip as that of "roommates" when v i s i t i n g conservative acquaintances, i n order to avoid deal ing with surprised or negative react ions; and both Delyse and Denise sa id they had not come out to members of t h e i r extended family with whom contact was minimal, s ince the investment of energy d id not seem worthwhile. A n t i c i p a t i n g negative react ions . Some par t i c ipant s re ferred to the act of bracing themselves for h u r t f u l or r e j e c t i n g react ions from other people. For instance, when Denise showed teenagers i n a l i f e s k i l l s program the video "Out," which concerns the problems of lesbian and gay youth, she wasn't surprised when some of the males reacted negat ively: . . . i t hurt , but I was prepared for i t . Like I knew . . . who would react and who wouldn't, and I . . . had a fee l ing? L i k e , where.things were gonna be, and what i t was gonna be l i k e . Denise added that, at other times, she had to ant i c ipate the negative react ions of co-workers when she decided to come out, and was care fu l to make sure she had supportive people around at 104 such times. Switching ch i ldren to more accepting school . Cheryl found that the s t a f f at her c h i l d r e n ' s publ ic school repeatedly refused to acknowledge her partner as co-parent of t h e i r c h i l d r e n : No respect for [my partner as co-parent] . No! They don't wanna get i t ! . . . You know? Like and they d i r e c t things to me! ... Yeah, and the kids are not being taught [about homosexuality] i n school , that i t ' s okay, or anything l i k e that—or that i t ' s even ava i l ab l e , as an opt ion. So . . . I'm switching them from schools, as a matter of fac t , because of that . 'Cause I can't manage that kinda a t t i tude any more. So they're gonna go to a community school . The above excerpt gives a glimpse into how a heterosexist school environment can af fec t not just one family member, but the e n t i r e family . Avoiding holding hands/expressing a f fec t ion i n dangerous areas. F ive of the eight lesbians interviewed brought up the issue of phys ica l safety. Of these, four talked of the danger of holding hands i n p u b l i c , p a r t i c u l a r l y at night or in the rougher areas of the c i t y . Par t i c ipants sa id they would e i ther avoid holding hands i n such a s i t u a t i o n , unlock hands i f people who appeared threatening approached, or "walk away fas t ." J u l i e out l ined the dynamics of the issue c l e a r l y : Another thing that we do worry about from time to time on the s treet i s violence? Urn, there was one time when we were walking along holding hands, some guy rode by on his bike and goes, "Fuckin' l e sb ians ." There's such a hatred i n h i s vo ice . So that ' s a b i t (pause) d isconcert ing . . . And we l i k e to hold hands, we don't r e a l l y want to a l t e r our behaviour. We get a l o t of looks, and we t o t a l l y ignore that . That 's not a b ig dea l , but we are constantly aware of p o t e n t i a l v io lence . I mean women, i n general , are . . . always on the lookout, and that ' s another issue that bothers me . . . . So i t ' s something that we're always aware of . And i f we see a man coming toward us, and he looks a l i t t l e b i t , you know, suspic ious , we . . . unlock our hands and so we do have to 1 05 a l t e r our behaviour, which (pause) I f ee l i s so unjust . L i k e , why should we? Walking away fas t . Rae made the point that , although some lesbians have more s o c i a l support and p r i v i l e g e than others, the fact remains that a l l lesbians are equally vulnerable to attack: R: It does b o i l down to the lowest common denominator. My head bashes i n just the same as anyone e l s e ' s , you know? I could get beat up just as e a s i l y . I've been p h y s i c a l l y threatened just as many times as, as any other dyke out there. E : Can you remember any p a r t i c u l a r instances of being p h y s i c a l l y threatened? R: East Cordova. Urn, 'ga in , walkin' arm i n arm with somebody, walking to a bar, and there was three guys . . . coming towards us . . . . They turn around, "Fuckin' dykes," s t a r t walkin' the other way, s tar t fol lowing us, we walk fas ter , they walk fas ter , we walk fas ter , we s tar t get t ing a l i t t l e nervous! (Laughing) You know, and then we end up going into our bar, which was okay, but . . . those are the times when I wish I was s ix feet t a l l because I would turn around and fucking fight . . . i t ' s l i k e , why should I have to fuck in ' r e s t r i c t my l i f e 'cause some—Rrrrrrhh! It makes me so angry! You know, why? And—and I'm not doing any harm! E : You're not hurt ing anyone. R: You know? I'm expressing a f f ec t ion for my f r i e n d , you know. E : You're showing love. R: Yeah! . . . It bugs me that I don't have those same freedoms! You know, that I can't k i s s my f r i e n d . Or that , i f I k i s s my f r i e n d , I'm r i s k i n g my neck. In some areas of the c i t y . You know, l i k e , what a load of bunkum! Both J u l i e and Rae expressed anger at the i n j u s t i c e of not being able to show t h e i r love i n publ ic as heterosexuals often do; however, they would l i k e l y agree with Delyse's statement that she was not going to put her l i f e i n danger simply to make a point., 106 Act ive Stance The s trategies under th i s heading are character ized by the des ire to make a statement to others, i n addi t ion to the wish to defend oneself . F ight ing Back There was disagreement among par t i c ipant s as to whether th i s c o n s t e l l a t i o n of s trategies represented a more defensive and therefore less useful kind of behaviour than that presented i n the "Confronting" category, or whether i t designated instead a group of sometimes appropriate or necessary behaviours. Showing anger. A number of par t i c ipant s commented that , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t h e i r e a r l i e r days of deal ing with heterosexism, they tended to get very angry and to express th i s anger. For Lee, patience with others grew as she got o lder and could see others' lack of understanding as human weakness. Delyse f e l t that she no longer wanted to spend energy get t ing angry i n the way she used.to, but that " i t was important to . . . do that at the time." Thus for some lesbians , showing anger i s part of a developmental process and does not r e t a i n i t s e a r l i e r l eve l s of i n t e n s i t y . Denise saw a place both for showing anger and for calmly t r y i n g to educate: There are times when I'm very m i l i t a n t and very l i k e , "Fuck you" sort of a t t i tude , but there are times where I'm more of an educator . . . Cheryl d i s t inguished between a "helpless anger" that causes one 107 to judge both oneself and other people u n f a i r l y , and a healthy anger that i s d irec ted at "systems." She f e l t that over time, she had moved from helpless anger to healthy anger as she became more aware of her choices i n l i f e , along with her r ight s and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . Her journey may perhaps be compared to that of J u l i e , who reported becoming angrier about heterosexism now that she has a c l earer idea of what she should not have to put up with, while at the same time becoming less defensive. Arguing. A few of the women interviewed mentioned arguing as a way of t r y i n g to convince people to change t h e i r minds. In the fol lowing instance, Denise recognized that the person involved was not about to move from his pos i t i on : E : Nobody i n Portugal i s gay! D: Exact ly , that ' s what he sa id ! And I sa id , "Well, how do you know?!" He sa id , "Not i n my family . . . I'm o ld country Portuguese!" (Laughs) . . . and so we just got to a point where I was going, "Yes, no,"and sort of arguing, and i t was jus t , i t was just no point . J u l i e re la ted a s i m i l a r experience of arguing with a man who bel ieved homosexuality was a disease: I argued f i e r c e l y with him. He just pissed me r i g h t o f f . And . . . I sa id , "Well, you're obviously not understanding a l o t of things I was qui te , you know assert ive i n the way I argued and, I mean I f e l t good about doing that but I s t i l l , f e l t that I got nowhere. Because he was s t i l l completely convinced that I was wrong and he was r i g h t . And—I mean I f e l t good . . . for expressing myself, for standing up for myself? For J u l i e , arguing may sometimes have value even i f the act of arguing does not r e s u l t i n persuading the other person. In th i s instance, she saw the argument as a chance to maintain a stand, and was glad that she had not backed down. She was, i n 1 0 8 Delyse's words, "saying [her] own t r u t h , " regardless of how i t was rece ived. Int imidating at tackers . In general , par t i c ipant s seemed to agree that ac t i ve ly defending oneself was necessary i n some s i t u a t i o n s . Rae remarked that th i s strategy would be more e f fec t ive than t ry ing to educate or confront calmly i f one were d i r e c t l y attacked. She gave an example of such a s i t u a t i o n : . . . I remember walking down Robson Street one day, with my g i r l f r i e n d , urn, arm i n arm, and some stupid guys from a car s tarted revv in ' t h e i r car , "Fuckin' dykes!" and we both turned around at the same time and approached them l i k e th i s (hands on hips) and they drove o f f ! (Laughing) And i t was such a moment of triumph! I mean i t was because we kinda looked around and I f e l t l i k e nobody would l e t us get hurt . . . . And i t happens so r a r e l y . But they were l i k e , they were young boys, too, they were s ixteen, or whatever. And I guess they d i d n ' t expect that . This strategy was s a t i s f y i n g for Rae and her f r i end because they were able to show the attackers they were not w i l l i n g to simply "put up and shut up." She added that i t was the "surprise" element that made the t a c t i c so e f f e c t i v e . (The v i a b i l i t y of th i s strategy was contingent upon being reasonably assured of phys i ca l safe ty . ) Being v i o l e n t . Susan resorted to v indict iveness as a way of expressing her profound anger at her peers for t rea t ing her as an outcast . In high school , th i s anger took the form of gang v io lence . Her fel low gang members were accepting of her, even though they knew she had a g i r l f r i e n d . . S u s a n implied that they too were outcasts who banded together i n a common fee l ing of a l i e n a t i o n from the rest of the school . S: . . . I used to be r e a l l y c a l c u l a t i n g , r e a l l y v i c i o u s , r e a l l y 109 v i n d i c t i v e . Urn, we used to l i k e , b a s i c a l l y (pause), s ta lk poofers (long pause) that went to the wrong school . The pretty people, the poor l i t t l e r i c h b i tches . And we'd wait and watch, and we'd see what was most important to them. I f i t was t h e i r h a i r , they'd have l i k e an "X" shaved into t h e i r head . . . . And l i k e one eyebrow gone. E : Wow, that ' s r e a l l y tough! S: I t was, yeah . . . we weren't nice . . . [We did] r e a l l y (pause) v i c i o u s , awful s tu f f . Like one g i r l had an ent ire wardrobe of leather c lothes , and (pause) l i k e a huge, huge c lo se t , and we l i k e , snipped a l l of her clothes i n four . . . she got targeted because she was putt ing [ g i r l f r i e n d ] and me down. Being v i n d i c t i v e . Once out of school and working i n a supervisory p o s i t i o n , Susan again found herse l f the target of name-call ing i n a strongly heterosexist work environment. Causing inconvenience for other workers was her way of get t ing back at them: . . . at the time I was a s h i f t supervisor , and d id a l l the scheduling for a l l the sh i f t s? . . . So I 'd just be r e a l l y nasty with t h e i r s h i f t s and t h e i r scheduling . . . . I 'd be s h o r t - s h i f t i n g them, l i k e having more three to eleven and then i n at four . . . . Union sa id there had to be eight hours between s h i f t s , so they'd have eight hours and l i k e , one minute before they'd have to be back for the next s h i f t and they l i v e d i n l i k e south Surrey! "No Room i n my L i f e " This category of strategy involves cut t ing t i e s with people whose at t i tudes a lesbian f inds oppressive, putt ing re la t ionsh ips "on h o l d , " and avoiding heterosexist environments. The interview materia l indicates i t can serve several purposes: making a statement regarding how much one i s w i l l i n g to put up with, conserving energy, and creat ing an environment for oneself that contains less stress or c o n f l i c t . 11 0 Avoiding t r a d i t i o n a l l y heterosexist i n s t i t u t i o n s . Whereas J u l i e was angry that she and her partner d id not have at l eas t the option to marry, Lee sa id she would avoid the ent ire i n s t i t u t i o n of marriage: I don't think I wanna marry a woman. I think that ' s a heterosexual, you know, i n s t i t u t i o n and i t ' s . . . a f f i l i a t e d with r e l i g i o n and I don't see that r e l i g i o n has r e a l l y done a whole l o t i n terms of promoting, you know . . . l i b e r a l a t t i tudes towards homosexuality, so I would have d i f f i c u l t y with . . . the whole marriage th ing . You know, so I might say, we l l , you know, I'm l i v i n g with th i s woman and we're together for the res t of our l i v e s . Being se lec t ive about one's work environment. Rae explained why i t was important to her to work in an accepting work environment: . . . i t ' s cont inua l , wearing s tress , to have to e i ther be t o t a l l y out and defend yoursel f a l l the time, or offend other people—al l the time, and then have to deal with the f a l l - o u t from that , verbal or non-verbal , subtle or overt . . . . a dec i s ion that I've made i s that I don't wanna work anywhere where I have to be c loseted . That 's why I put on my resume—I mean, part of i t i s , 'cause that ' s relevant work experience and part of i t i s , l i k e , "Fuck you! (Laughing) Don't even c a l l me for the interview!" Rae d id add, however, that she had the p r i v i l e g e of being able to be se l ec t ive ; that i s , that she belonged to a s o c i a l c lass and profess ion wherein she could better af ford to be choosy than many other people. Avoiding heterosexist people. Susan, who was s h i f t supervisor at her job, found that there were f ive or s ix people who cons is tent ly angered her with d i s re spec t fu l behaviour and name-cal l ing. Her so lut ion was to work out a schedule where those p a r t i c u l a r people a l l worked together, while she worked a 111 separate s h i f t . Putt ing re la t ionsh ips "on hold". Delyse found that , while she was developing a stronger sense of herse l f as a l e sb ian , she needed to withdraw from her heterosexual fr iends i n order to e s tab l i sh c loser t i e s to the l e sb ian community. The separation from these fr iends was not due to c o n f l i c t , and some of the fr iendships were resumed l a t e r on. By contrast , a deep and serious r i f t formed between Lee and her parents, whose denia l of a large part of t h e i r daughter's i d e n t i t y contributed to the creat ion of a wal l between themselves and her. Lee found the s i t u a t i o n so f r u s t r a t i n g that she stopped t r y i n g to communicate with them: . . . you know, when B. and I s p l i t up, there was absolutely no acknowledgement that I might ac tua l ly be i n pain? You know, that I might ac tua l ly be (pause) having a b i t of a rough time deal ing with th i s one, you know . . . . I mean, there's just no acknowledgement, and . . . they never ask me about my personal l i f e . And so I never t e l l them anything. You know, and i f they don't wanna know, so they've made i t per fec t ly c l ear and I've just decided we l l , you know l i s t e n , I don't think there's room i n my l i f e for t h e i r n e g a t i v i t y . So I just don't deal with i t any more. Although she has not completely shut the door, Lee does not hold out much hope that her parents w i l l change t h e i r a t t i tudes : " . . . maybe, when I f ee l l i k e being frus trated I ' l l t ry again and . . . who knows?" Severing t i e s . Rae acknowledged that, i t was sometimes necessary simply to sever t i e s , even with people she cared about: With people that you're gonna have some kind of continuing r e l a t i o n s h i p with . . . you have to educate people. And you have to give them a chance to absorb information. And then i f they don't , then you have to write them o f f ! At some point you have to decide, l i k e , i t ' s not worth i t , t h i s 1 1 2 i s n ' t working . . . . I mean, you hafta decide how much e f f o r t you wanna put into i t , and how much you expect of the other person i n terms of educating themselves . . . . She added that she tended to want to give people many chances, s ince she r e a l i z e d that learning about how people oppress one another was a process for her, and that i t would therefore be u n r e a l i s t i c . t o expect people to absorb a l o t of information i n a short time. Proactive Stance The fol lowing s trategies and approaches ar i se not only from the intent ion to make a statement to others regarding the l i m i t s of what one w i l l , p u t up with, but from a desire to challenge the i n s t i t u t i o n of heterosexism, with a view toward i t s dismantlement. "Take Me or Leave Me" This category could just as wel l be c a l l e d "Being Who I Am." For most of the women, th i s approach was arr ived at only a f ter passing through the Protect ive and Act ive stances of Model 3. This stance i s nei ther passive nor aggressive; rather , i t i s a s ser t ive , i n that the women i n s i s t e d on claiming t h e i r r i g h t to be f u l l y themselves. "Setting i t out". This strategy has already been discussed under "Coming out to f r i ends ." Both Lee and Delyse spoke of making sure po tent ia l fr iends knew, from the beginning, about t h e i r sexual o r i e n t a t i o n . Lee added that she d id not want to spend time c u l t i v a t i n g a fr iendship i n a case where she would 11 3 l a t e r be rejected for being a l esb ian: . . . I don't l i k e se t t ing i t out, but I do set i t out. Because I just don't wanna be bothered with people, urn, i f i t ' s something that they can't deal with. You know, l i k e , l e t ' s not play these games, l e t ' s not go through th i s charade, th i s i s the way I l i v e , th i s i s my l i f e , and i f you have a problem with i t th i s i s a good time to check out. You know, before we get going. So . . . most people that I meet now, I mean (pause), geez, they probably know within about ten seconds, or l ess , that I'm gay. S i m i l a r l y i n a work s i t u a t i o n , both Rae and Denise mentioned t h e i r prac t i ce of making sure a po tent ia l workplace i s an accepting one before taking a job. Refusing to hide. A l l eight par t i c ipant s i n one way or another voiced the necessity of being open about who they are. This strategy i s d i s t i n c t from being v i s i b l e i n order to ra i se awareness: i n refus ing to hide, lesbians simply go about t h e i r business without making concessions to heterosexist b e l i e f s or a t t i tudes . Lee verbal ized th i s stance as fol lows: I f people are gonna come into my house, i t ' s gonna be pret ty obvious to them pretty quick, you know, that I sleep with women and i f they have a problem with i t , then, there i s the door. Respons ib i l i ty for heterosexist react ions i s placed where i t belongs: on the heterosexuals who f ind themselves unable to accept her lesbian i d e n t i t y . She re ferred to th i s po l i cy as "not running away," and gave the fol lowing scenario as an example: Like I just don't back down . . . where i t ' s a s i t u a t i o n l i k e , urn, being i n v i t e d to somebody's house for dinner. And then showing up with, you know, [partner] . . . "You know, th i s i s my partner and . . . I mean, you sa id 'Br ing whoever' and I d i d , and—" "Oh, everybody's heterosexual." "Great! W e ' l l have a swell night You know? (Both laugh.) And, and, am I s t i l l inv i ted? I mean, do I have to stand at the door and ask that? 114 Showing a f f ec t ion i n p u b l i c . Cheryl stressed her convic t ion that lesbians have not only a r i g h t but a r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to show a f fec t ion i n p u b l i c , even i f they cause a s t i r , s ince not to do so simply perpetuates a s i t u a t i o n where such behaviour i s regarded as strange or wrong: C: . . . we hold hands, and we k i s s and do whatever we need to do i n p u b l i c , just l i k e everybody else has the r i g h t to . Uh, l i k e we don't hide at a l l . . . but we're stared at continuously. And there's always, l i k e , an uncomfortable f ee l ing . . . when I f i r s t came out, th i s g i r l f r i e n d . . . that I had and I went to a movie theatre . And I wanted to put my arm around her. And I sa id , "Is i t l egal? Are we gonna get kicked outta here, you know?" I d i d n ' t even know at that time, you know? I thought, "Oh my god, oh my god!" And she sa id , "Of course i t i s !" E : But that ' s . . . how seldom you see i t i n society (C. laughs: I never see i t ! ) , that we, we begin to think that there must be something l e g a l l y wrong with i t . C: . . . I don't see women k i s s i n g each other, urn . . . I don't see that! We go to the pool and we're a l l over each other just l i k e teenagers, you know? And, always i n the back of my mind, I think, What are they gonna say? What are they gonna say? Like what can they do, you know? And just the embarrassment of being confronted about that . But I . . . force myself to do i t anyway, 'cause I think i t ' s my ro l e to educate i n some sense . . . Lee expressed the same idea: . . . often we hold hands as we walk down the s treets and once i n a while . . . I sorta f ee l l i k e , geez, you know, we're get t ing some strange looks i n th i s neighbourhood . . . . Sometimes that throws me a b i t but i t doesn't make me (pause) you know, wanna stop holding her hand . . . . I t ' s sorta l i k e , "If you people have a problem, then you should deal with i t ! " Reject ing stereotypes. I have already made reference to the dress and behaviour codes (commented on by several par t i c ipant s ) imposed not only on lesbians by other lesbians , but by heterosexuals as we l l , perhaps to maintain an "us and them" 1 1 5 dynamic. In Rae's view, th i s kind of pigeonholing i s des truct ive : R: . . . dec lar ing di f ference i s . . . nourishing . . . I'm not p a r t i c i p a t i n g . . . i n structures that oppress me . . . when I say, "Well, I'm a lesbian and I'm not l i k e that" . . . I'm, l i k e , stepping out of . . . that p a r t i c u l a r way of seeing things, l i k e pushing the bounds of what's poss ib le . E : The l i m i t s of the stereotype. R: The—yeah! Yeah. Saying, l i k e , "No, there's more p o s s i b i l i t i e s than that; this i s a p o s s i b i l i t y too!" Urn, which i s n ' t l i k e , I'm a crusading hero or anything, i t ' s just l i k e (pause) making room for myself i n a room. This l a s t sentence of Rae's epitomizes what the "Take Me or Leave Me" approach i s r e a l l y about: i t does not e n t a i l "crusading" as such, but represents instead lesbians ' determination to claim the i n d i v i d u a l i t y and humanity that i s r i g h t f u l l y t h e i r s . Confronting "Confronting" refers to a way of assert ing oneself without defensiveness or h o s t i l i t y i n response to a given s i t u a t i o n . The s trategies i n th i s category c a l l for ind iv idua l s act ing i n a heterosexist manner to examine t h e i r own behaviour. They d i f f e r from those i n the "Take Me or Leave Me" category i n that they demand some sort of response from the other party . "Ca l l ing i t " . In Rae's view, an important part of deal ing with heterosexist remarks or behaviours i s to confront, d i r e c t l y , the person who has made them, and try to make him or her aware of the e f fect these words or actions have had: . . . what do you have invested i n the re la t ionsh ip? I f you want th i s to be a continuing r e l a t i o n s h i p , you have to put up with some s i l l y comments and s tu f f and call it, and say l i k e , you know, that ' s not okay to say that , that hurts me. And usual ly people hear that . You know, people who are some continuing part of your l i f e . . . w i l l be w i l l i n g to hear that . . . . Some people, you lose them. And that ' s hard. 11 6 Again, the theme of deciding whether the investment of energy i s worthwhile appears. Apparent, too, i s the element of r i s k involved: confronting someone can compel both people toward a "moment of truth" that determines whether or not the r e l a t i o n s h i p w i l l continue. Speaking out. Rae stated that her approach to heterosexist a t t i tudes and behaviours had "changed from putt ing up and shutt ing up to speaking out and taking what comes." The same could probably be sa id for many of the women i n th i s sample. For Chery l , "the bottom l i n e i s that honesty thing . . . and f i gh t ing for things, you know? Being outspoken." Marg has reached a s i m i l a r point i n her l i f e : . . . a f ter years and years, uh, t ry ing to f i t i n , t r y i n g to be someone I wasn't, i t ' s very important just to be (pause) open . . . . I don't think I have anything to hide. Elsewhere i n the interview, she sa id : I put my cards on the table , very, very b lunt ly . . . . I think I have to now? Because for so long, I d i d n ' t . These par t i c ipant s convey a sense of having to speak out not only to edify others but to assert t h e i r own i n t e g r i t y as w e l l . Gett ing p o l i t i c a l l y involved. In a sense, a l l of the women I interviewed are " p o l i t i c a l l y involved" i n that a l l refuse to hide i n most s i tua t ions , and are concerned with educating people and changing an inequitable s i t u a t i o n . However, p o l i t i c a l involvement as a strategy i n the "Confronting" category refers to taking s p e c i f i c measures, e i ther i n d i v i d u a l l y or i n a group, that would be seen p u b l i c l y to attempt to r i g h t a given s i t u a t i o n . For instance, Marg wrote a l e t t e r to The Province i n response to a 1 1 7 l e t t e r that attacked lesbian and gay parents; Delyse became involved i n the union at a former job with a view toward making lesbians and gays more v i s i b l e i n her workplace. Using "passive res istance". In my o r i g i n a l model, I used the words "Refuse to get angry" for th i s strategy. The words were taken from my interview with Lee, and were meant to capture the essence of the pat ient yet assert ive a t t i tude she described as one of her main ways of deal ing with heterosexism. However, during the focus group, she pointed out that the strategy involved more than simply not gett ing angry; i t was ac t ive , yet nonconfrontat ional . She used the phrase "passive resistance" to describe i t . This approach stems from her b e l i e f that "people don't l earn a l o t from aggression," and that i t i s better to c a l l t h e i r actions into question i n a way that neither attacks nor i n v i t e s attack. In her view, a remark l i k e "You know, sometimes I just don't know where your head i s at" gives the attacker a chance to r e f l e c t on h is or her behaviour, while the attacked person avoids stooping to the l e v e l of the offending person. In Lee's words, th i s i s a "subtle, gentle type of confrontat ion ." J u l i e sa id she often took th i s stance as we l l . She saw i t as taking back power: "Why should I have to defend myself? I t ' s t h e i r problem, not mine. " Using l o g i c a l explanation. An example of th i s method of deal ing with heterosexism was presented by J u l i e . She r e c a l l e d a conversation with a f r i end ' s mother, who was scandalized by the 118 story of two lesbians who dared to k i s s i n a coffee shop, and were thrown out: . . . and I defended them, I sa id , "Well, you know, I think that people should be allowed to do what they wanna do. They're not r e a l l y hurt ing anybody" . . . and she goes "Well, yeah, yeah. I guess that ' s t rue ." So she kind of agreed . . . . And I sa id , " . . . you know . . . not every man you see on the s treet i s gonna wanna have sex with you," and she goes, "Well yeah, that ' s true . . . . " So she was kind of . . . able to see that point of view, she wasn't completely (pause) out to lunch? But I f e l t good that I had spoken up. And I 'd done i t very s o f t l y , l i k e I don't wanna attack people because that puts them on the defensive. And i t makes them fee l that they're r ight? And that ' s the l a s t thing you wanna do! (laughs s l i g h t l y ) when you're deal ing with a person l i k e that , because then they become impossible. Giving an ultimatum. Although Lee's parents have known for many years that she i s a l e sb ian , they s t i l l do not accept the fac t . For instance, they cons is tent ly ignored the existence of her partner and i n v i t e d only Lee to hol iday dinners, while welcoming the spouses of her brother and s i s t e r . Lee chose to confront her mother d i r e c t l y , s ta t ing that she would not come to family dinners unless her partner was i n v i t e d as w e l l . This way, she avoided a s i t u a t i o n that would only have i n t e n s i f i e d her anger and a l i e n a t i o n . She also put the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y where she f e l t i t belonged, implying that i t was up to her parents to change t h e i r at t i tudes i f they wished to include her i n family funct ions . Complaining. Marg has complained to school s t a f f about the fact that lesbian and gay issues were ignored by the school . When her daughter was teased about having a lesbian mother, Marg went d i r e c t l y to the p r i n c i p a l to point out the school 's r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to ensure that such behaviour was discouraged and 119 more respect fu l a t t i tudes taught. Complaining was also mentioned by par t i c ipant s as the "ideal" t a c t i c i n c e r t a i n s i tua t ions , though they d id not ac tua l ly reg i s t er complaints i n those cases. When Marg was verba l ly assaulted by a homophobic neighbour, she wished she had tape recorded the assault and "sued . . . for s lander." Likewise , Rae f e l t that when she was asked questions that seemed designed to e l i c i t her p o l i t i c s during a job interview, she could have success fu l ly lodged a complaint. Educating There i s much overlap between "Educating" and the previous category, "Confronting"; however, the two are d i s t i n c t i n that the confronting i s used to assert oneself i n response to s p e c i f i c s i t u a t i o n s . It often involves educating, but education i s not necessar i ly the main goal . When Marg complained to the p r i n c i p a l about her daughter get t ing teased, for instance, she was p r i m a r i l y concerned about the welfare of her c h i l d , and secondari ly with conveying to the p r i n c i p a l why she found such teasing unacceptable. In Models 1 and 3, I conceptualized "Educating" as a more "evolved" approach. This dec is ion was based on the comments of several of the women. Delyse, for example, described herse l f as "less reactive"—because less fearful—than before, and "more . . . to lerant and understanding and wanting to educate people." J u l i e spoke of a s i m i l a r change: . . . I went through a period where I was very, very argumentative and I . . . d i d n ' t r e a l l y think about the other 1 20 person, that I may be attacking them or (pause) making them fee l uncomfortable, putt ing them on the defensive. I think [now] I put more thought into that? And that ' s r e f l e c t ed i n the way I deal with the issue. Like I t ry to be as r a t i o n a l as I can and I . . . try to inform people i f I'm coming from a pos i t i on where I have information or knowledge or understanding that I f ee l that they don't have. Educating seems to involve increased awareness of, and patience regarding, other people's process of "unlearning" heterosexism. More emphasis i s placed on seeing the other person's point of view and t r y i n g to understand i t . Being v i s i b l e . The purpose of th i s strategy i s not only to c laim one's r i g h t to be oneself but to ra i se the awareness of others . Cheryl acknowledged that being v i s i b l e was not always easy, but i n s i s t e d i t was necessary i n order to get an important message across to those around her: C: . . . the minute you do something l i k e [show a f fec t ion i n p u b l i c ] , you are the centre of a t tent ion . L i k e , you r e a l l y c a l l a t tent ion to yoursel f . . . . You know, so people stare at you all the time . . . E : Yeah, you're making a b ig statement when you're not— C: —a big statement! E : —wanting to (pause), I mean, we l l , i n a way you're wanting to, but that ' s not the po int . C: Yeah! Yeah, i n a way we do i t (pause), um, that i s n ' t the po int . The point i s (pause) that we are who we are. But there i s a b ig statement i n that , though. You know, one that we're not a f r a i d to make. Making a b ig statement is the point and yet i t i s not the po in t . The paradox ar i ses from the fact that c laiming one's r ight s and educating the publ ic are inseparable. While Cheryl and her partner may simply want to be who they are, they cannot do so without having an impact on others . 121 Being a ro le model. Several of the women interviewed remarked that because they had had no ro le models, they had not r e a l i z e d that being a lesbian was a poss ible l i f e s t y l e , and a leg i t imate one. Through volunteering with a lesbian and gay youth group, Marg hoped to provide information and encouragement: . . . t a l k i n g and t r y i n g to educate, l i k e , urn, volunteer ing, and being around gay and lesbian youth i s very important. To l e t them know that there are ways, you know, that you can grow to be a happy adult i s very important. I t ' s very important to s tress that . I wish (pause) I 'da had t h i s , when I was a k i d . Denise has also provided education and guidance to young people regarding sexual or i en ta t ion issues . On one occasion, a young woman she had worked with wrote her asking for advice: . . . she's taking women's studies and so she's l i k e , "I hate men!" and "What does th i s mean?" and . . . "I don't know whether I can l i v e without men, but . . . a l l the guys I know are jerks" and th i s s tu f f ! And so . . . I just wrote her and sa id , you know, "Just because you're a lesbian doesn't necessar i ly mean you hate men . . . . And, you know, just because you're a feminist or you bel ieve i n women's r i g h t s doesn't necessar i ly make you a lesbian e i ther!" . . . . I s a i d , you know l i k e , "Don't worry about i t ! L i k e , just do what you f ee l i s r i g h t for yourse l f . Don't pressure yourse l f , take your time (laughing a b i t ) , you know? There's no rush ." So that was r e a l l y cool too . .'. when I . . . s tarted coming out . . . I d i d n ' t r e a l l y have anybody to ta lk to about i t . I just kind of dealt with i t somehow. C l e a r l y , a major motivating factor i n these women's des ire to educate i s the r e c o l l e c t i o n of t h e i r fee l ings of confusion or aloneness when discovering t h e i r own sexual i d e n t i t i e s ; they now want to give to others the information and support they fee l they should have rece ived. 1 22 Correct ing misconceptions. A s i g n i f i c a n t part of educating involves "re-educating," or undoing the harm that has been perpetuated by common myths or misunderstandings about l e sb ians . J u l i e gave an example of attempting to correct the b e l i e f that lesbians are more "sexual" than heterosexual women, and that they compulsively and ind i scr iminate ly make sexual advances toward other women: . . . when that g i r l [co-worker, the day the interview took place] sa id that she was gonna stop seeing her massage therapis t because she found out she was a l e sb ian , I stood up for , you know, for that . Like I countered what she was saying very calmly and . . . I sa id , "Well, you know, she's a profes s iona l . I mean I doubt very much that she'd be making passes at every woman who, you know, happens to be on her massage table . . . . " Examples given by other women show that i t i s a lso sometimes poss ible to give correct information i n a succinct but ed i fy ing rep ly , such as when Susan responded to the exclamation, "Oh my god, are you i n therapy?!" with "Well yeah, how do you think I got to where I am?" S i m i l a r l y , when Marg's daughter was c a l l e d a "dyke" by her classmates, Marg advised her to: " T e l l 'em! You got i t wrong! My mom's a l e sb ian , not me!" Answering people's guestions. When Marg was approached by an man i n his seventies who pointed to her "Damned lesbian" s h i r t and asked, "You're not one of those, are you?" she took the question ser ious ly : M: L ike he's , l i k e point ing at the back of my s h i r t . And I sa id , "Yeah I am!" and . . . we talked for about f i f t e e n , twenty minutes, and he asked me a l l kinds of questions, and some of them were personal and some of them, they were personal but they weren't? L i k e , you know . . . "Do you hate 1 23 men?" and urn, "Why, w i l l you ever be intimate with a man again?" and "Do you f ind men a t trac t ive?" and just these kinds of questions. E : Yeah, pretty personal questions for a t o t a l stranger to ask you. M: Yeah, but I think i n a way he needed to? Because he—I'm sure he went home and he probably sa id , you know, "Honey, I , I—" you know, l i k e , to h i s wife— E : —"I met a l esb ian!" M: Yeah! And . . . he probably never met one—that he knew of! . . . I d i d n ' t f ee l threatened at a l l . So that was kind of i n t e r e s t i n g . I enjoyed that . This example suggests that what might normally be perceived as an i n s u l t can also be seen as an opportunity to educate. Drawing p a r a l l e l s . A few par t i c ipant s gave instances of how they drew analogies to make t h e i r point , as Marg d id i n explaining to her mother that heterosexuals have more freedom than homosexuals do: And she couldn't understand that! And I sa id , "Well, you can hold dad's hand, and not worry about being beat up, or being k i l l e d ! " Denise drew p a r a l l e l s to explain to a homophobic co-worker that d i scr iminat ion against someone for being a lesbian was fundamentally the same as d i scr iminat ion with regard to race or r e l i g i o n : . . . we talked a l o t and he had been through a l o t with h i s g i r l f r i e n d at the time about . . . her parents not accepting him . . . and I just sa id , "You know, l i k e i t happens i n d i f f eren t ways, l i k e where you're not accepted by d i f f e r e n t parents, and, because of r e l i g i o n , or whatever! And i t ' s the same thing . . . . " As a r e s u l t of Denise's inf luence, th i s man d id learn to examine h is previously unquestioned heterosexist a t t i tudes . 1 24 Giving workshops. In her work with youth, Denise has conducted workshops i n homophobia and heterosexism for people of a l l sexual or i en ta t ions . These workshops included a f i lm about violence toward gays and lesbians , small group exercises , ro l e p lay , and discuss ion of such topics as stereotypes, the r e l a t i o n s h i p between heterosexism and other "isms," and how to be supportive of l e sb ian and gay people. She stressed the need to be pat ient and r e a l i s t i c regarding how much a s ingle workshop could accomplish: You know, you don't expect someone to be, l i k e , r e a l l y homophobic and become, urn, a supportive person, i n l i k e a day workshop or even a month of knowing you, but i f they can move from, you know, t o t a l l y homophobic to accepting (pause) and then, a f ter a couple of years, hopeful ly to being, you know, supportive . . . Thus Denise acknowledged the t y p i c a l l y slow process by which people begin to question the tenets of a pr imar i ly heterosexist soc ie ty . Educating c h i l d r e n . Both mothers i n th i s sample emphasized the importance of teaching t h e i r c h i l d r e n , and all c h i l d r e n , about a l ternate fami l ies and l i f e s t y l e s . Cheryl underl ined that i t i s not poss ible for a lesbian mother to teach her c h i l d r e n self-acceptance i f she herse l f i s i n the c lo se t . Marg c l e a r l y f e l t the same way, even though being out meant her daughter get t ing teased at school: . . . R. w i l l come home and s h e ' l l be cry ing because some k i d has teased her about me being a l e sb ian , and I sa id "Well, would you rather me be who I'm not? Just so that you're safe? You know, and I mean, I'm sorry that people tease you . . . . " I hug her and I try to be as sympathetic as I can, and understanding but (pause) I think that she, she understands i t and she sa id , "No, i t ' s better that you can 1 25 be who you are That's a l o t to take. For a ten-year- o l d . I think I would be t o t a l l y happy i f (pause) they were teaching kids at school that there are other l i f e s t y l e s . That there are other ways, because . . . where are these kids learning th i s? Where are these kids learning to c a l l my daughter a dyke because I am? This kind of education means more than just teaching c h i l d r e n about a l ternate l i f e s t y l e s , however; i t means teaching them about the discrepancy between the way things should be and the way they are, and therefore about oppression: . . . when I came out to R . , she just happened to be reading about phobias! And i t worked out great, 'cause she was reading about d i f f erent phobias, and fear of the dark, and spiders , and, and they a l l had names, and I sa id , "Well here's another one, i t ' s c a l l e d 'homophobia.' I t ' s fear of gay and lesbian people. And because of t h i s , sometimes people could want to hurt me because I'm a l e sb ian . And for that reason, we have to be c a r e f u l . " E s s e n t i a l l y , Cheryl noted, for a lesbian mother a major part of deal ing with heterosexism i s attempting to undo the negative programming about homosexuality t h e i r ch i ldren receive i n p u b l i c . For instance, i n her household, i n place of a Father 's Day ce lebrat ion i s a day to honour Chery l ' s partner and other parent to the c h i l d r e n , J . When the ch i ldren t o l d t h e i r teacher that they celebrated J . ' s Day instead of Father's Day, the teacher's automatic response was, "Do you have an uncle? Do you have a grandpa?" . . . when they can't have J . ' s Day i n school , you come home, and you try to (pause) make up for that . You try to say that [the people at school] are wrong, and that they just don't understand, and they don't wanna understand, and i t ' s unfortunate, and you try to discuss a l l that with your k i d s . According to Chery l , the key to c u l t i v a t i n g open minds i n one's ch i ldren i s to be as open and honest as poss ible with them, and 1 2 6 to be w i l l i n g to discuss with them any topic they are curious about: You know, we ta lk about what sexual or i en ta t ion— preference, whatever you wanna c a l l i t — t h e y are. L i k e , we ta lk about that a l l the time! And . . . l i k e I have one daughter who says she's a l e sb ian , one daughter who, who f luctuates . One day she's s t ra ight , one day she's b i sexua l , one day she's a l e sb ian , and my son i s l i k e , adamantly s t ra ight . . . . they have choices, you know? What happens when they h i t th i r t een , and they can't—they can't say that , i f they are lesbians? You know? Man! Oh! Both Cheryl and Marg implied that there was no sense i n pretending to one's ch i ldren that problems l i k e oppression, v io lence , and disease do not ex i s t . Doing so would only teach them a fa l se view of l i f e , and make them less prepared to deal with l i f e ' s hard blows. Showing one's normality . Part of educating the p u b l i c , as both Marg and Cheryl observed, was showing people that lesbians are b a s i c a l l y no d i f f eren t from anyone e lse , and that t h e i r fami l ies are l i k e anyone e l se ' s family . Only by being v i s i b l e can they do t h i s : M: . . . i t ' s very important that people see me. And know that I have a daughter i n "Guides" and a son i n "Beavers," and that I do go grocery shopping. C: . . . I think i t ' s my ro le to educate i n some sense, you know? . . . just to show that we're l i k e a normal family . We take our three kids everywhere we go and, you know, we go family swimming, we go here, we go there, and we go on p i c n i c s , we go camping together, a l l that s tu f f ! Later during the interview, Cheryl added: . . . i t ' s about normalizing i t . . . . It is normal for me. And average for me. But i t i s n ' t for my next-door neighbours. You know, so unless they get a chance to be exposed to i t , other than, l i k e seeing the Gay Pride [parade] on T .V 1 27 I think . . . sometimes those kind of formalized protests and marches and r a l l i e s can be (pause), urn, detrimental . . . [people don't get] a look at average C. and J . and t h e i r three k i d s . Part I I I : Creating a Nonheterosexist Society Although no interview questions s p e c i f i c a l l y addressed the subject of goals , many of the interviewees put for th opinions as to the kind of society they would l i k e to l i v e i n . Because these views seemed to represent an i d e a l "endpoint" toward which they were u l t imate ly s t r i v i n g , I included them i n Model 1 as goals placed at the end of a more or less l i n e a r evolut ion of approaches. During the focus group, most of the women thought these goals belonged i n the centre of a c i r c u l a r model, so th i s i s how they appear i n Models 2 and 3. They represent changes the par t i c ipant s bel ieved society as a whole, inc luding the l e sb ian and gay communities, should be t r y i n g to achieve. As such, they inform the women's various ways of deal ing with heterosexism. Some women f e l t that the a c t i v i t i e s associated with these goals would not only help to dismantle heterosexism, but would contribute to a non-oppressive s o c i e t a l s tructure genera l ly . There were d i f f e r i n g opinions amongst group members as to whether these goals could be attained within t h e i r l i fe t ime—and i n fac t , whether they would ever be at ta ined. However, a l l group members agreed that they were worth working toward. Better Education of Chi ldren This issue was stressed p a r t i c u l a r l y by the lesbian mothers i n the study as necessary for e f fec t ing a s o c i a l change wherein 128 people could free ly express any sexual or i en ta t ion without being discr iminated against . Although Marg and Cheryl are contr ibut ing to the "re-education" of t h e i r own ch i ldren and of other young people they come i n contact with, they both observed that schools need to take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for providing correct information about sexual i ty , as wel l as about a l ternate fami l ies and l i f e s t y l e s . Equal Treatment i n the Media Marg talked about the movie "Serving i n S i lence: The Greta Cammermeyer Story," the true story of a respected army colonel who was f i r e d from the U.S. armed forces because she was a l e sb ian: And I sat and I watched and I watched and [Cammermeyer and her partner] kissed, and I thought, "Thank god they r e a l l y do!" You know, the whole time they were l i k e t h i s ! (as i f to touch another person l i g h t l y ) They were lovers , and they touched l i k e t h i s ! . . . i f th i s was a guy and g i r l i n love, they'd be showing them i n bed having sex. And I mean, two lesbians , oh god forb id they ac tua l ly touch each other . . . they had to s a c r i f i c e other things to get t h e i r point across . And that ' s where I get very angry and f r u s t r a t e d . Chery l ' s point about t e l e v i s i o n coverage of the Gay Pride Parade i s another example of unfa ir treatment by the media, i n the form of misrepresentation; that i s , the media favours the s t ereo typ ica l and the flamboyant, such as the "Dykes on Bikes" ("Like, we're a l l a buncha biker chicks i n leather!" Cheryl joked), and overlooks ordinary lesbians and gays and t h e i r f a m i l i e s . As a r e s u l t , the publ ic i s given a d i s tor ted p i c ture of who lesbian and gay people are. 1 29 F u l l Legal Rights The l ega l aspect of heterosexism was brought up by both J u l i e and Chery l . J u l i e made reference to not having the option to marry, and to e f for t s of various p o l i t i c i a n s and r e l i g i o u s leaders to t ry to r e s t r i c t the r ight s of gays and lesb ians . Both women brought up the widespread lack of same-sex benefi ts i n the workplace. C h i e f l y , both underscored the point that lesbians and gay men should have the same l ega l r ight s that everyone e lse has. Publ ic Role Models Marg spoke of the f ee l ing of a f f irmat ion she experienced when well-known singers l i k e Mel issa Etheridge and K.D. Laing came out of the c loset : I never had any ro le models . . . . I d i d n ' t u n t i l I came out . . . And when I f i r s t came out, knowing K.D. Laing was a lesbian and knowing her songs were writ ten about other women, i t was l i k e , i n c r e d i b l e ! It was th i s t o t a l , new freedom to know that . . . there was a woman out there w r i t i n g songs to other women . . . . In general , the more lesbians s tar t seeing themselves r e f l e c t e d i n aspects of mainstream cu l ture , the more v i s i b l e and hence the more va l idated they f e e l . New Family Structures Delyse noted that the lesbian community has few intergenerat ional connections. She f e l t th i s problem existed p a r t l y because many lesbians were "reactive to" the heterosexual model of the family . In other words, since a heterosexual model i s held up as the only model, lesbians tend to avoid i t : That 's one way i n which heterosexism and homophobia af fec t 1 30 us i s , I think, i n how we organize our r e l a t i o n s h i p s , how we organize our . . . family s tructure . . . . We only have that heterosexual model and so i t ' s l i k e we flounder about, r ight? . . . t r y i n g to develop, you know, a s tructure i n our community which I think we ac tua l ly need, and which we lack a great deal of . Delyse also touched on how th i s problem affected her own l i f e : . . . so I've been th inking , you know, about that , and how to get (pause) ch i ldren i n my l i f e . I guess, you know, and . . . (pause, then thoughtful ly: ) Yeah . . . . And you know, we need, uh, elders to learn from too. At the same time that the publ ic needs to become more accepting of lesbians , lesbians may need to be less react ive to the heterosexual l i f e s t y l e i n order to embrace what i s enr iching about such aspects of i t as intergenerat ional contact. Explorat ion of Sexuality Thinking about her young fr i end who was unsure about her sexual o r i e n t a t i o n , Denise suggested that sexual explorat ion be more general ly encouraged: . . . I think i t ' s better i f more people did, l i k e , not necessar i ly go to sleep with a member of the same sex or anything but i f they questioned, l i k e i f they ac tua l ly sat down and sa id , "Wow! What would i t be l i k e ? Could—does th i s f i t me? Yes or no?" Then, l i k e I think the world would be a better place . This point t i e s i n with the views of Marg and Cheryl regarding the education of young people. The knowledge that homosexuality i s a leg i t imate choice would, i f imparted ear ly , prevent much fear and confusion for countless people l a t e r on. Greater Numbers of Out Lesbian and Gay People Cheryl stressed that major change cannot not take place unless greater numbers of l esbian and gay people come out: . . . i t ' s not going to change unless there are a h e l l of a 131 l o t more . . . lesbians who are w i l l i n g to go out and k i s s t h e i r lovers at Safeway. She added that change takes place on an i n d i v i d u a l l e v e l , and that therefore the choices that any gay or lesbian person makes af fect society as a whole: C: You know, but i f you have lesbians who won't t e l l t h e i r kids that they're lesbians . . . . Like (sighs heavi ly) . . . E : I t ' s not l i k e we need more than ten percent to , to br ing people around, but . . . f u l l y that ten percent have to be open about who they are. C: That 's the first step! But that would be a huge step! I f every lesbian woke up and sa id , "Today I'm going to be, urn, as l esbian as I can!" . . . or "Today I'm gonna be who I am, and who I am i s k i s s i n g my wife!" You know? That w i l l change things! E : Just l i k e , you know i t ' s l i k e they say i f every—if every gay and lesbian suddenly turned purple or something, you know then, everybody else could see how many of us there were. C: Yeah . . . but i t ' s not even l i k e , making a b ig statement l i k e turning purple . . . . I t ' s , l i k e , going to the grocery s tore , and buying your groceries together . . . and making people . . . aware that you are together. Like i t ' s going to the swimming pool , i t ' s e n r o l l i n g your kids i n school and showing up there, on Parent Day, both of you. You know, i t ' s those normal, average things. "Acceptance" Rather than "Tolerance" While l esbian and gay people themselves must surely s t a r t to take more r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i n the way that Cheryl describes , heterosexual people also need to take more r e s p o n s i b i l i t y : to begin with, they need to become more aware of the double standards regarding the p r i v i l e g e s they have that gays and lesbians lack . Marg stressed that these double standards are re f l ec t ed i n c e r t a i n at t i tudes toward lesbian and gay people, such as when heterosexuals pride themselves on being "tolerant": 1 32 . . . my mom and I have ta lked a l o t and we've ta lked about tolerance and, and I, you know, I say, "I don't want to lerance . You know, I don't to lerate you! I accept you, r ight?" . . . so I think I've opened my mom's eyes a l o t . As can be seen i n the fol lowing excerpt of my conversation with Rae, "acceptance rather than tolerance" i s a concept that lesbians themselves, having been ra i sed i n a predominantly heterosexist soc iety , can eas i ly lose s ight of: R: . . . [ i t ] i s n ' t l i k e , I'm a crusading hero or anything, i t ' s just l i k e (pause) making room for myself i n a room. E : Mm-hm. (Yeah!) And educating other people, about to lerance . R: Acceptance i s what I want them to do! E : Yeah. Mm-hm. Yeah. R: (Pause. Then q u i e t l y : ) I to lerate mosquitoes. 133 CHAPTER FIVE DISCUSSION In th i s chapter, I w i l l discuss both the t h e o r e t i c a l and the p r a c t i c a l s ign i f i cance of th i s study. I w i l l then make some suggestions regarding future research i n areas re la ted to my own research t o p i c . The chapter w i l l conclude with a b r i e f summary of my f ind ings . S igni f icance of the Study Theore t i ca l S igni f icance Some of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' e a r l i e r s trategies i n deal ing with heterosexism coincide with the ear ly stages of the lesbian and gay iden t i ty development models put forth by various theor i s t s (Cass, 1979; Coleman, 1982; Troiden, 1989). For instance, some of the women gave evidence of what Troiden c a l l s "stigma evasion s trateg ies ," such as escape through drugs or a lcoho l , overworking, s e l f - i s o l a t i o n , d e n i a l , and def in ing oneself as b i sexua l . However, a paradigm l i k e Troiden's does not seem to f i t , o v e r a l l , for these women. Troiden considers "group alignment" and acceptance of a homosexual iden t i ty to be elements of "stigma evasion," whereas i n my research, there was no evidence beyond the "Hiding" and "Preparing to Come Out" phases that par t i c ipant s t r i e d to evade t h e i r lesbian i d e n t i t i e s . In fac t , f inding lesbians fr iends was seen as a pos i t i ve step toward strengthening t h e i r lesbian i d e n t i t i e s . And nowhere i n any of the models to date i s there mention of how lesbians and gay men deal 1 34 with anger at being oppressed, how they fee l about t h e i r oppressors and how they respond to them, or how they learn to heal from the wounds i n f l i c t e d by heterosexism. A more appropriate paradigm appears to be Neisen's (1993) notion of "cu l tura l v i c t i m i z a t i o n . " In Neisen's scheme, coming out i s s i m i l a r to the abuse v i c t i m ' s statement "I have been abused," i n that i t brings truth to the fore and sets i n motion the processes of e s tab l i sh ing perpetrator r e s p o n s i b i l i t y (thereby free ing oneself from g u i l t and self-blame) and reclaiming personal power. Neisen asserts that the damage done to l esb ian and gay people i s p a r t l y due to overt kinds of d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , such as denying lesbians and gays the r i g h t to marry, and p a r t l y to more subtle but no less powerful kinds of oppression, such as perpetuating the i n v i s i b i l i t y of lesbians and gay men—for example, by excluding lesbian and gay couples from t e l e v i s i o n programs and adver t i s ing . Neisen's paradigm seems confirmed, to a large extent, by the experiences of the women i n th i s study. A l l had experienced overt d i s cr iminat ion , such as name-cal l ing, the threat of phys ica l attack, having t h e i r re la t ionsh ips ignored, and not being allowed to marry. They also c i t e d subt ler kinds of oppression. For instance, several of the par t i c ipant s mentioned not knowing that l i v i n g as a lesbian was a v a l i d opt ion. Most d id not see themselves re f l ec ted i n songs, movies, t e l e v i s i o n , or people they met, and the only references to lesbians they heard were t y p i c a l l y derogatory ones. The process they underwent was c l e a r l y 1 35 one of recognizing "cu l tura l v i c t imiza t ion" and learning to respond to i t i n healthy ways. Rich (1980) sets the c u l t u r a l v i c t i m i z a t i o n of lesbians i n a broader framework, seeing i t as an aspect of sexism. In her view, lesbians and heterosexual women a l i k e are caught i n a male- dominated system wherein "compulsory heterosexuality" i s demanded i n exchange for emotional and economic s ecur i ty . One way i n which heterosexual i ty i s "enforced," according to Rich , i s by "the rendering i n v i s i b l e of the lesbian p o s s i b i l i t y " (p. 19); another i s by g l o r i f y i n g heterosexual romance. Experience of both these factors was mentioned by study p a r t i c i p a n t s . Al so , several par t i c ipant s connected heterosexism to sexism, or re la ted i t to other "isms." Hence, most par t i c ipant s saw heterosexism as a complex i n s t i t u t i o n whose roots were intertwined with those of other forms of oppression. O r i g i n a l l y , I had intended to research how lesbians "cope" with heterosexism. I was guided by Lykes' (1983) d e f i n i t i o n of coping as the "effort to master condit ions of threat , harm, or challenge . . . " (p. 84). However, since many of the women's approaches r e f l e c t attempts not just to master these condit ions but to "e-radicate" them (pu l l out t h e i r roots ) , I found the term inappropriate . For instance, while Neisen (1993) urges l esb ian and gay people to become v i s i b l e i n order to "reclaim personal power l o s t l i v i n g i n a heterosexist culture" (p. 51), most par t i c ipant s i n th i s study—through such a c t i v i t i e s as volunteering with youth groups, g iv ing workshops, and w r i t i n g 1 36 l e t t e r s to newspapers—go far beyond simply being v i s i b l e . As such, they not only take back personal power, but also attempt to help br ing about a s h i f t i n the fundamental imbalance of power. The women i n my study have contributed not merely ways of adjust ing to an unjust state of a f f a i r s , but ways of asser t ing a lesbian iden t i ty that challenge the i n s t i t u t i o n of heterosexism i t s e l f . According to Cass' (1979) o f t en-c i t ed model of homosexual ident i ty formation, a lesbian who reaches the f i n a l , " ident i ty synthesis" stage "is now able to integrate [her] homosexual iden t i ty with a l l other aspects of se l f" (p. 235). The model I developed with the p a r t i c i p a n t - c o l l a b o r a t o r s goes further by emphasizing the ro le of s e l f i n soc iety: i t includes such a c t i v i s t approaches as confronting and educating as a way of assert ing one's lesbian ident i ty i n a society that general ly re jec t s l esb ians . In other words, i t i s concerned with s o c i e t a l change, such that models l i k e i t s e l f would become obsolete. Implications for Counsel l ing Interes t ing ly , of these eight women who had "reached a comfortable acceptance of t h e i r lesbian i d e n t i t y , " only one mentioned therapy (though i n a pos i t i ve l i g h t ) , and only i n passing. Another made reference to working through personal i ssues , such as i n t e r n a l i z e d homophobia, i n order to deal e f f e c t i v e l y with heterosexism. Perhaps one impl i ca t ion i s that lesbians are not apt to r e l y on therapy as t h e i r only means of support. Among th i s sample, many other types of support were mentioned. Also , the focus of th i s study was on deal ing with the 1 37 s o c i e t a l problem of heterosexism rather than with i t s psychological ef fects i n p a r t i c u l a r ; therefore the topic of counse l l ing may not have been d i r e c t l y relevant i n interviews. Nevertheless, many factors i n the data point to ways that therapy could be use fu l . For instance, several women commented that the growing knowledge that they had choices helped them to assert who they were. In therapy, c l i e n t s can be helped to explore a f u l l range of options. For instance, when i n the ear ly stages of th inking about t h e i r sexual o r i e n t a t i o n , c l i e n t s can be reminded that they have time to decide, and need not act on same- sex fee l ings unless they want to or are ready (Gonsiorek, 1988). At the same time, assert ing a lesbian i den t i ty can be presented as a v a l i d , pos i t i ve choice. Also indicated by the data was a lack of the kind of information that made choices poss ib le . Part of the t h e r a p i s t ' s ro le i s to provide th i s information, i n the form of fac ts , reading and video l i s t s , and community resources (Browning, 1987; Kus, 1990). Explorat ion of stereotypes a c l i e n t holds may also be necessary, along with discuss ion of other myths about l esb ian and gay people (Hanley-Hackenbruck, 1988a; Sophie, 1987). At th i s stage, such books as Eichberg's Coming Out: An Act of Love (1990), C l a r k ' s Loving Someone Gay (1989), and Borhek's Coming Out to Parents (1993) may also be appropriate . C r u c i a l to counsel l ing lesbians i s acknowledgement of the ways that lesbians are made i n v i s i b l e , minimized, economically penal ized, and i n other ways oppressed. Discussion of these 138 f a c t o r s i s not meant to discourage, but to s h i f t the blame from s e l f to s o c i e t y (Browning, 1987). Women can be helped to see how they have i n t e r n a l i z e d s o c i e t y ' s negative a t t i t u d e s , and i n many cases, fa m i l y a t t i t u d e s (Gonsiorek, 1988; Neisen, 1993; Sophie, 1987). F e e l i n g s of shame can be traced back to t h e i r o r i g i n s . T herapists may need to poin t out that shame i s not.something we are born with , but comes from how we have been t r e a t e d (Kaufman, 1989; M i l l e r , 1994), both as i n d i v i d u a l s and as members of a p a r t i c u l a r group. In a d d i t i o n , data from t h i s study show that heterosexism has some p o s i t i v e "by-products," such as c l o s e bonds with supportive people, a "tougher s k i n , " and increased empathy f o r people of other oppressed groups. As R i t t e r and O ' N e i l l (1989) suggest, c o u n s e l l o r s can reframe the experience of being homosexual i n a h e t e r o s e x i s t s o c i e t y as a " g i f t " that brings unique i n s i g h t i n t o l o s s and i n j u s t i c e . The r e s u l t s of t h i s study i n d i c a t e that when a l e s b i a n comes out, more and d i f f e r e n t support from that provided by j u s t the t h e r a p i s t i s important. Other l e s b i a n s can be r o l e models f o r the coming out l e s b i a n , and can g r e a t l y decrease her sense of i s o l a t i o n (Kus, 1990; Savin-Williams, 1990). Counsellors should be able to poin t women toward coming out groups, s o c i a l and r e c r e a t i o n a l groups, l e s b i a n and gay community centres, dancing places, and advocacy groups. At minimum, a number f o r the l e s b i a n and gay community's telephone information l i n e can be provided, along with t a b l o i d s such as Vancouver's Angles and Xtra West, 1 39 which contain many more resources. Corroborating statements by Lewis (1984) and R i t t e r and O ' N e i l l (1989), the women i n th i s study gave evidence that emotional release i s centra l to deal ing with heterosexism. Therapists can help to va l idate g r i e f over loss or abandonment; f r u s t r a t i o n and discouragement over work s i tua t ions , l ega l s truggles , or re la t ionsh ips with those who do not accept t h e i r sexual or i e n ta t ion ; anger and sometimes rage at society for being the way i t i s ; and s p e c i f i c anger at r e j ec t ing or h o s t i l e people, or unfa ir s i t u a t i o n s . My research resu l t s also show that deal ing with heterosexism i s often wearing: much energy goes into making dec is ions , t r y i n g to ant i c ipa te negative react ions to d i sc losure of sexual o r i e n t a t i o n , explaining oneself (or deciding not to ) , and deal ing with one's emotions. Sometimes, c l i e n t s may f ee l i t i s up to them to redress a l l wrongs. They may f ind i t h e l p f u l to be reminded that they alone are not responsible for the state of soc ie ty , and that they have the r i g h t to save energy and choose t h e i r bat t l e s c a r e f u l l y . Many issues ra i sed by par t i c ipant s point to the ro l e of decision-making i n helping lesbians to deal with heterosexism. Major decis ions may include whether to leave a male partner, whether to be more "out," whether to confront one's fr iends or r e l a t i v e s about t h e i r a t t i tudes , whether to sever t i e s with unsupportive people or put re la t ionsh ips with such people on hold , whether to come out at work, and whether to move to an area 1 40 where one expects to f ind more support. A therapis t can a s s i s t c l i e n t s to weigh gains and losses and to determine what they want or need most. Where c l i e n t s are preparing for an important confrontat ion, ro le play or Gestal t two-chair techniques can be he lp fu l (Sophie, 1987). Emerging c l e a r l y from th i s study i s the c r u c i a l ro l e of education i n deal ing with heterosexism. Through d i scuss ion , rehearsa l , and reading mater ia l , counsel lors can empower lesbians to educate those they come i n c o n f l i c t with. As interview excerpts show, the a b i l i t y to correct misconceptions about homosexuality e f f e c t i v e l y can be extremely valuable . Par t i c ipant s provided support for Borhek's (1990) b e l i e f that a wi l l ingness to see other points of view i s key i n increas ing the other par ty ' s receptiveness. One way lesbians have healed from the damage done by heterosexism i s to become ro le models for others, inc luding lesbian and gay youth. This way, they can provide the leadership and knowledge they once sought themselves. Some lesbians may choose to become involved i n s o c i a l advocacy, such as put t ing on workshops or engaging i n p o l i t i c a l lobbying. Such actions serve to increase v i s i b i l i t y and replace misinformation with t r u t h ; they are a lso l i k e l y to enhance lesbians ' se l f -worth . Counsel lors need to provide "therapy" not just to c l i e n t s deal ing with the f a l l - o u t from heterosexism, but to a society that suffers from ignorance and prejudice . The f i r s t step i s to educate ourselves . Profess ionals who say they treat l e sb ian or 1 41 gay c l i e n t s no d i f f e r e n t l y than anyone else may be well-meaning, but they lack awareness of the unique stresses a r i s i n g from heterosexism. While i t i s important that counsel lors be nonjudgmental, they should also understand the dynamics of th i s i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d prejudice and the kinds of s trategies that counter i t , inc luding those that u l t imate ly work toward i t s dismantlement. Lesbian and gay issues should be a part of counsel lor education (Iasenza, 1989; Sang, 1989); to ignore such issues i s to ignore the needs of at l east 10% of the population (Fassinger, 1991; Gonsiorek, 1988). Videos, books, and workshops can a l l play a r o l e , as can the use of speakers to re la te personal experiences, give information and answer questions. Idea l ly , the knowledged gained would enable counsel lors to become s o c i a l a c t i v i s t s themselves. Because they are seen as being i n the vanguard of knowledge about s o c i a l sciences and human re la t ionsh ips (along with psychologists , s o c i a l workers, teachers, and r e l i g i o u s leaders) , counsel lors are i n a unique pos i t i on to educate the p u b l i c . Not s u r p r i s i n g l y , th i s study y i e lds evidence of heterosexist at t i tudes among ch i ldren and teenagers as wel l as among adul t s . Because these at t i tudes have such harmful consequences, i t i s up to people i n helping professions to communicate c l e a r l y the damage done by th i s form of oppression. Only then w i l l teachers and parents be motivated to provide correct information for youth on sexual i ty and al ternate l i f e s t y l e s , and to promote acceptance 142 of d i f ference . Education of th i s population i s p i v o t a l to b u i l d i n g a nonheterosexist soc ie ty . Recommendations for Future Research F i r s t , a study s i m i l a r to mine, but with lesbians of d i f f e r e n t age groups, might serve to further test my grounded theory that over time, lesbians evolve s trategies that are more e f f ec t ive than the ones they used prev ious ly . It should be noted, though, that f indings might be confounded by h i s t o r i c a l e f fec t s ; i n that sense, a l ong i tud ina l study would be preferable . However, research into the effects of heterosexism on youth and on o lder lesbians would lead to knowledge regarding the spec ia l concerns of these age groups. Certa in issues that came up within th i s study but could not be f u l l y explored bear further looking in to , such as how heterosexism affects lesbians i n work s i tua t ions , l esb ian couples, and lesbian mothers—both b i o l o g i c a l and nonbio log ica l— and t h e i r c h i l d r e n . In addi t ion , studying the effects of heterosexism on lesbian communities, by looking at i n t r a - community dynamics, would l i k e l y br ing to l i g h t how aspects of heterosexism become rep l i ca ted i n these communities. The phenomenon of " p o l i t i c a l correctness ," for example, i n v i t e s more explorat ion . Research into heterosexism within any of the i n s t i t u t i o n s mentioned by par t i c ipant s i n th i s study, such as the law, the media, science and medicine, and r e l i g i o n , would y i e l d r i c h 143 information. Also , though not brought up by interviewees, heterosexism i n academia requires further inves t i ga t ion . As mentioned, several par t i c ipant s made references to a l i n k between heterosexism and sexism. This connection could be further examined: for instance, one could conduct a study s i m i l a r to mine but include a question such as, "To what extent do you think your experience as a female i n th i s society has influenced the way you deal with heterosexism?" A l t e r n a t i v e l y , the questions I used i n my study could be asked of an a l l -male sample, so that responses to th i s form of oppression could be compared across gender. As Betz and F i t z g e r a l d ( 1 9 9 3 ) note, more research needs to be done on "multiple oppression"; for instance, on the needs of lesbians from r a c i a l or r e l i g i o u s m i n o r i t i e s , or p h y s i c a l l y challenged groups. How do lesbian members of v i s i b l e minority groups or r e l i g i o u s groups experience lesbian communities? How do heterosexual people from these groups perceive lesbians? Is there a place for bisexual women or transgendered lesbians in l esb ian communities? How are lesbian communities experienced by people from these groups? Studying the re la t i onsh ip between ways of deal ing with heterosexism and lesbians ' family backgrounds, i n f l u e n t i a l f igures i n chi ldhood, or personal i ty types might contribute to answering the question of why i n d i v i d u a l lesbians choose the s trategies they do. Exploring a connection between how lesbians deal with heterosexism and how they deal with other types of adversi ty could shed l i g h t on why lesbians develop t h e i r 1 44 p a r t i c u l a r coping and s t r a t e g i z i n g s ty l e s , and how they put t h e i r personal strengths to use. Invest igat ion into how much information about homosexuality and heterosexism.certain segments of the general publ ic have could be ed i fy ing: for instance, p o l i c e , teachers, parents, or high school students. Results could be compared with those of ch i ldren of l esbian or gay parents. And f i n a l l y , there has yet to be a "before and after" quant i ta t ive study, using a homophobia or heterosexism scale , on the effects of workshops designed to reduce heterosexist a t t i tudes . Summary This study out l ines the nature of the problem of heterosexism, and presents a theory to explain how lesbians deal with i t . The eight p a r t i c i p a n t s ' s trategies for deal ing with heterosexism show both d i v e r s i t y and resourcefulness i n approaches. Ear ly stages of grappl ing with the problem could be l a b e l l e d "coping," i n that the women t y p i c a l l y experienced fear , confusion, i s o l a t i o n , or r e j e c t i o n , and t h e i r behaviours were i n i t i a l l y re la ted to psychological s u r v i v a l . Later periods seem, general ly , to move beyond "coping" to confronting, educating, a "take me or leave me" stance, or a combination of a l l three. However, par t i c ipant s acknowledged that they drew on d i f f e r e n t s trateg ies depending on the s i t u a t i o n . Other f indings were: 1) the emphasis on the energy required to deal with 1 4 5 heterosexism on a d a i l y basis 2) the often-mentioned fear for physical safety 3) the changing role of anger: some women reported being less angry now than before, while other women's anger increased as t h e i r awareness increased, sometimes taking the form of rage; a l so , some women who previously took anger out on themselves or those around them l a t e r d irec ted anger at "systems" 4 ) an understanding of the other that seemed to develop over time, and to contribute to e f f e c t i v e l y countering heterosexist b e l i e f s or at t i tudes 5 ) an increased awareness of choices, and of the r i g h t to l i v e one's l i f e i n one's own way. 6) a connection between increased effect iveness i n deal ing with heterosexism and becoming more comfortable with oneself. I hope the f indings of th i s study w i l l help to i l luminate the dynamics of th i s complex, deeply-rooted prejudice . Counsel lors can help lesbians to use "hyperawareness"—as one p a r t i c i p a n t c a l l e d ins ight into oppression through experience—to recognize when they may be taking over the oppressor's ro l e and v i c t i m i z i n g themselves. When a growing sense of i n j u s t i c e i s accompanied by an increasing sense of se l f -ent i t lement and s e l f - worth, helpless anger becomes healthy anger, and one's ways of deal ing with heterosexism become more powerful. References A l l e n , K . R . , & Baber, K.M. (1992). E t h i c a l and epistemological tensions i n applying a post-modern perspective to feminist research. Psychology of Women Quarter ly , 16, 1-15. Banyard, V . L . , & Graham-Bermann, S.A. (1993). Can women cope? A gender analys i s of theories of coping with s t res s . Psychology of Women Quarter ly , 1_7, 303-318. Beran, N . J . , Claybaker, C , D i l l o n , C , & Haverkamp, R . J . (1992). 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L . , & Brewer, L . (1987). A grounded theory of thes is b locking . Teaching of Psychology, 1.4(1), 10-15. Rich , A. (1980). Compulsory heterosexuali ty and lesbian existence. Signs, 5(4), 631-660. Riddle , D . L . , & Sang, B. (1978). Psychotherapy with l e sb ians . Journal of Soc ia l Issues, 34.(3), 84-100. R i t t e r , K . Y . , & O ' N e i l l , C.W. (1989). Moving through loss : The s p i r i t u a l journey of gay men and lesbian women. Journal of 150 Counseling & Development, 68(1), 9-14. Sang, B . E . (1989). New d irec t ions i n l esb ian research, theory, and education. Journal of Counseling & Development, 68(1), 92-96. Savin-Wil l iams, R , C . (1990). Gay and lesbian adolescents. Marriage and Family Review, J_4(3), 197-216. Shidlo , A. (1994). Internal ized homophobia: Conceptual and empir ica l issues i n measurement. In B. Greene & G.M. Herek (Eds . ) , Lesbian and gay psychology: Theory, research, and c l i n i c a l appl icat ions (pp. 176-205). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Smith, D . E . (1990). The conceptual pract ices of power. Boston: Northwestern Univers i ty Press. Sophie, J . (1986). A c r i t i c a l examination of stage theories of l esbian id en t i ty development. Journal of Homosexuality, 12(2), 39-51. Sophie, J . (1987). Internal ized homophobia and lesbian i d e n t i t y . Journal of Homosexuality, 14.(1 ), 53-65. Staats, G. (1978). Stereotype content and s o c i a l distance: Changing views of homosexuality. Journal of Homosexuality, 4., 15-27. Strauss, A . , & Corbin , J . (1990). Basics of g u a l i t a t i v e research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Sue, S. , & Zane, N. (1987). The ro le of cu l ture and c u l t u r a l techniques i n psychotherapy: A c r i t i q u e and reformulat ion. American Psychologist , 42(1), 37-45. Tielman, R . , & Hammelburg, H. (1993). World survey on the s o c i a l and l e g a l pos i t i on of gays and lesb ians . In A. Hendriks, R. 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"I am taping th i s interview so that I can l i s t e n to i t again and transcr ibe i t . No one else w i l l l i s t e n to th i s tape, and I w i l l erase i t a f ter I have f in i shed t r a n s c r i b i n g i t . I ' l l destroy the t r a n s c r i p t i o n once I have completed th i s study. I f you would l i k e to re fer to yourse l f or others with assumed names, that ' s f ine . But i f you choose not to do that , I w i l l change the names myself to ensure c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y . "If at any time during the interview you decide you do not want to continue, l e t me know and I w i l l stop the interview. "Do you have any questions to ask me before we s tart?" Introduct ion: "I am doing th i s study i n order to f ind out how lesbians cope with heterosexism. By "heterosexism," I mean the a t t i tude that heterosexual i ty i s superior to other sexual or ientat ions as a way of being and of lov ing others . In asking lesbians how they deal with negative at t i tudes toward them, I hope to b u i l d a theory that r e f l e c t s what they t e l l me about i t . I'm interested i n both what aspects of i t lesbians have i n common and what i s d i f f e r e n t about i t for each woman." 1 52 Interview Guide 1 (subject to rev i s ion) 1) When you hear me use the word "heterosexism," I'm wondering what meaning you attach to i t . 2a) Could you t e l l me about any instances of heterosexism / (preferred term) you personal ly have experienced i n your l i f e ? b) How were you affected by that? c) How d id you cope with the s i tuat ion? d) What was the r e s u l t of your saying / doing that? (Repeat 2a, b, c, and d as many times as necessary) 3) When you think about the various ways i n which you've coped with heterosexism / (preferred term), do any of them s t r i k e you as more e f f ec t ive than others? (Probe: Why?) 4) Now that you r e f l e c t on the ways you've dealt with heterosexism / (preferred term), I'm wondering how those ways of coping f i t i n with your t o t a l p ic ture of yoursel f as a l e sb ian . 5) Is there anything else you would l i k e to t e l l me about your experiences, thoughts, or fee l ings about heterosexism / (preferred term)? 153 Interview Guide 2 (subject to rev i s ion) 1) When you hear me use the word "heterosexism," I'm wondering what meaning you attach to i t . 2a) Could you t e l l me about any instances of heterosexism / (preferred term) you personal ly have experienced i n your l i f e ? b) How were you affected by that? c) How d id you cope with the s i tuat ion? d) What was the r e s u l t of your saying / doing that? (Repeat 2a, b, c, and d as many times as necessary) 3) When you think about the various ways i n which you've coped with heterosexism / (preferred term), do any of them s t r i k e you as more e f f ec t ive than others? (Probe: Why?) 4) Do you think your way of coping has changed over time? 5) Now that you r e f l e c t on the ways you've dealt with heterosexism / (preferred term), I'm wondering how those ways of coping f i t i n with your t o t a l p ic ture of yourse l f . 6) Is there anything else you would l i k e to t e l l me about your experiences, thoughts, or fee l ings about heterosexism / (preferred term)?

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