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Amazing grace(s): a qualitative study of lesbian helping professionals 1999

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A M A Z I N G G R A C E ( S ) : A Q U A L I T A T I V E S T U D Y O F L E S B I A N H E L P I N G P R O F E S S I O N A L S by S U S A N D I A N E R . N . B . A . , T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f W e s t e r n Ontar io , 1983 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F U L L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F M A S T E R O F A R T S i n T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S Department o f E d u c a t i o n a l Studies W e accept this thesis as c o n f o r m i n g to the required standard T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A January 1999 © Susan D i a n e , 1999 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. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date DE-6 (2/88) It Abstract T h i s feminist qual i tat ive study was undertaken to explore the l i v e d experience o f l e s b i a n h e l p i n g professionals. T h e methodology consisted o f l i fe history interv iews a n d a focus group w i t h w o m e n w h o sel f - identi f ied as lesbian a n d h a d educat ion a n d w o r k experience i n nurs ing , teaching, s o c i a l w o r k a n d counsel ing. N e t w o r k i n g s a m p l i n g resulted i n s i x white lesbian participants between the ages o f 37 a n d 47. A s part o f c l a i m i n g their lesbian identity these w o m e n asked to have their r e a l names revealed. Stories o f gender soc ia l i zat ion indicate t radi t ional f a m i l y structures. Resistance to gender roles and qualit ies o f independence/leadership are seen i n g i r l h o o d a l o n g w i t h r e m e m b e r i n g o f early same-sex attraction. L i m i t e d career options for w o m e n are noted i n teenage years as is a c o n c e r n for soc ia l just ice a n d a v a l u i n g o f car ing for others. Journeys towards lesbian awareness span the c o m i n g out ages o f 18 to 38. T w o w o m e n h a d been m a r r i e d and bore c h i l d r e n w i t h i n their heterosexual unions. G e n d e r e m b o d i e d experiences i n c l u d e d pregnancy before marriage, abort ion d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g , acquaintance rape, a n d the i so la t ion o f motherhood. F o u r w o m e n revealed f e m i n i s m a n d therapy as the contexts for the r e c o g n i t i o n o f their lesbian desires i n adulthood. T h e intrapsychic processes surrounding lesbian-ness were labe led internal compartmenta l izat ion a n d the soc ia l separation a n d secrecy about l e s b i a n idenity was termed external compartmental izat ion. E x p e r i e n c e s o f d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , harassment and other negative reactions were documented as w e l l as stories o f support. E t h i c s a n d boundaries were issues w h i c h concerned these lesbians, w h o i n c loseted t imes c o u l d not discuss their d i l e m m a s openly. S o m e benefits o f lesbian-ness i n professional careers inc lude us ing their identity to educate others about divers i ty , d isrupt ing the stereotypes, a n d confront ing d i s c r i m i n a t i o n . Impl icat ions for h e l p i n g professional educat ion inc lude increased lesbians a n d al l ies a m o n g faculty c o m m i t t e d to creating anti-heterosexist c u r r i c u l a . Lesbians are oppressed by s e x i s m a n d heterosexism, so educat ion is needed about the c o m p l e x i t y o f identi ty a n d the i n t e r l o c k i n g i m p a c t o f m u l t i p l e oppressions i n capital ist patr iarchal s o c i a l structures. T h e A p p e n d i c e s conta in a n interactive educat ional t o o l c a l l e d A S o c i o m e t r y o f Oppressions. Ill TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ii Table of Contents \ iii Acknowledgments vi Chapter One: Introduction . 1 Amazing Grace(s) 1 Claiming Lesbian Identity 4 Social/Cultural/Historical Contexts 7 Feminism, Sexuality and Lesbian Identity: A Conceptual Framework 10 My Position 14 Research Questions 21 Significance of this Study 22 Map of the Thesis .24 Chapter Two: Literature Review 25 Lesbian Identity 25 Heterosexism/Homophobia 29 Lesbians at Work 35 Lesbians in Post Secondary/Adult Education 40 Gender Socialization and Female Dominated Professions 43 Racism 51 Ethics/Boundaries 54 Summary of the Literature Review 58 Chapter Three: Methodological Considerations 61 The Unfolding of a Methodology 61 iv Life History Interviews 64 Confidentiality 66 Witnessing 67 Participant Selection 69 Focus Groups 71 Data Analysis 73 Chapter Four: Family and Other Significant Influences 77 Demographics 77 Age, Education and Employment 77 Race 78 Class 78 Family 79 Father 80 Mother 82 Role Models 85 Independent/Radical/Leadership 87 Resistance to Gender Roles 89 Limited Career Options 90 Early Lesbian Awareness 91 Gender Embodied Experience 94 Catalyst 97 Feminism. 98 Therapy 100 Chapter Four Discussion 104 V Chapter Five: Conditions and Contributions of Lesbian Lives 112 Repressive Conditions 112 Coming Out Process 114 Compartmentalization 115 Internal Compartmentalization 115 External Compartmentalization 117 Support/Allies. 119 Negative Reactions 122 Ethics/Boundaries 127 Benefits at Work 136 Coming Out to Parents 145 Chapter Five Discussion 154 Chapter Six: Discussion and Future Research 160 New Social Movements 160 Family, Gender Socialization and Career . . 161 Journey to Lesbian Awareness 164 Considering Ethics and Boundaries 168 Limitations: Race, Age, Class and What about Religion? 175 Implications for Professional Education and Unions 179 A Final Word 181 References 184 Appendices 192 Appendix A: Interview Guide ....192 Appendix B: A Sociometry of Oppressions 194 Appendix C: Participant Consent Form. 199 v i A c k n o w l e d g m e n t s A mentor for m y f e m i n i s m , D r . Shauna B u t t e r w i c k has b e e n one o f m y instructor/professors for the past f ive years. A s m y advisor for this project I c o u l d not have f o u n d a m o r e support ive, nurtur ing a n d patient a l ly . She managed to guide a n d encourage m e through the entire research/committee process, a very t r i c k y terra in indeed, w i t h c a r i n g a n d humour. T h i s intel l igent, h a r d - w o r k i n g w o m a n loves her students a n d not surpris ingly w e love her too. I also w i s h to thank the other members o f m y commit tee and m y external reader for b r i n g i n g their scholar ly input a n d their lesbian-ness to strengthen this thesis. A very l o v i n g thank y o u especial ly to m y mother , Joyce B u m s t e a d R . N . (nee K i n g ) w h o has c o m e through e m o t i o n a l l y a n d f i n a n c i a l l y for me m a n y t imes over the years. T h i s i n c l u d e d a gift o f the first year 's t u i t i o n for this M a s t e r ' s program. T h e c o m b i n e d parenting o f two spec ia l h u m a n beings, b e i n g ra ised i n a large f a m i l y , a n d m y m i d d l e class b a c k g r o u n d a l l contr ibuted to m y sk i l l s and abi l i ty to complete this w o r k . There were m a n y friends, f a m i l y members a n d co-workers whose support I a m grateful for as they l istened patiently to m y r a m b l i n g , ranting a n d r a v i n g o n m y journey towards a n d through this educational/research process. L a s t l y , but maybe most important ly , I a m very deeply grateful for the honor a n d pr iv i lege o f w o r k i n g w i t h the w o m e n w h o became the A m a z i n g Graces , the lesbians w h o part ic ipated i n this study. T h e y gave generously o f their t i m e , t o u c h i n g m e w i t h their honesty a n d e m p o w e r i n g me w i t h their courage. 1 Chapter O n e : Introduction T h i s qual i tat ive study is an e x p l o r a t i o n o f the l i fe a n d w o r k histories o f s i x ( i n c l u d i n g mysel f ) lesbian h e l p i n g professionals: N a n c y B u z z e l l , Susan D i a n e , Pat M a c D i a r m i d , J o a n M e r r i f i e l d , C a r l a R a n d a l l , and D e b r a Sutherland. T h e part ic ipat ion, c o m m i t m e n t and passion o f these w o m e n was the v i ta l energy that ini t iated and sustained this work . A m a z i n g Graces Throughout the months o f the research process, I was consistently impressed w i t h - the honesty, the courage, a n d the quiet a c t i v i s m o f these intel l igent, h a r d w o r k i n g w o m e n . M y academic supervisor not iced that I was repeatedly c o m m e n t i n g o n h o w a m a z i n g these w o m e n were a n d so one day she suggested the tit le A m a z i n g Grace(s). I was a bit j o l t e d b y this idea i n i t i a l l y but as 1 considered the impact o f A m a z i n g Grace(s): A Qual i tat ive Study o f L e s b i a n H e l p i n g Professionals it seemed attention grabbing w i t h its re l ig ious connotations snuggled up against the w o r d lesbian. 1 dec ided it was an appropriate w a y to re-frame a p o p u l a t i o n that has been denigrated by m a n y oppressive groups i n c l u d i n g some right w i n g C h r i s t i a n groups. D u r i n g m y twenty plus years o f e m p l o y m e n t as a nurse or counsel lor , I have w o r k e d w i t h thousands o f people, l i s tening to countless stories o f adversity, abuse, gr ie f and pa in . 1 a m always a m a z e d at the endurance o f the h u m a n spirit a n d its a b i l i t y to surmount tremendous obstacles and dif f icult ies . I saw again this strength o f spirit i n these w o m e n as they recounted the problems they have faced. M y amazement was further fueled by h o w these w o m e n have travel led a step further to use their lesbian-ness 1 to confront and educate o n soc ia l just ice issues i n their da i ly w o r k i n g l ives. T h e stories I heard and that are re-presented "in this thesis were often about struggles i n l i fe , but there is a lso a l e v e l o f race, class, a n d educat ional pr iv i lege w h i c h assists m y co- 1 Lesbian-ness is a term c o i n e d by W i l t o n (1995), w h o rejects the patholog ica l f lavor to the term lesb ianism w h i c h she paral le ls to words l i k e ast igmatism. She finds lesbian- ness a m o r e f lex ib le term w i t h descript ive connotations such as "r ichness or loveliness" ( p . x ) . 2 researcher/participants 2 as they journey past these struggles towards empowerment a n d the a b i l i t y to affect change. There are other narratives that have been t o l d a n d are w a i t i n g to be t o l d , where people are not as p r i v i l e g e d and/or are unable to overcome tremendous obstacles a n d injustices; where the h u m a n spirit does not receive the encouragement it needs to continue and suic ide, addict ions or numerous other actual deaths or s m a l l d a i l y soul deaths prevai l . There is m u c h to be learned f r o m a l l different types o f stories a n d I d o not want to negate these other l i v e d experiences or m i n i m i z e factors such as p o s i t i o n o n the socia l/economic hierarchy w h i c h inf luence i n d i v i d u a l a n d group perceptions/outcomes. T h i s h a v i n g been said, I a m st i l l i n awe o f the qual i ty , depth a n d inspirat ion conta ined i n the lesbian/career stories that I was p r i v i l e g e d to obta in for this research project. T h e a m a z i n g part o f m y tit le 1 easi ly understood but I needed more i n f o r m a t i o n about the grace(s) aspect. G r a c e a c c o r d i n g to Webster ' s N e w C o l l e g i a t e D i c t i o n a r y (1977) has m a n y meanings a n d some o f these are as f o l l o w s : unmeri ted d i v i n e assistance g i v e n m a n [sic] for his [sic] regeneration or s a n c t i f i c a t i o n , . . . a state o f sanct i f icat ion enjoyed through d i v i n e grace . . . a virtue c o m i n g f r o m G o d . . . d i spos i t ion to or a n act or instance o f k indness or c lemency. . . . a special favor. . . . a c h a r m i n g trait or accompl ishment . . . sense o f propriety or r i g h t . . . the qual i ty or state o f b e i n g considerate or t h o u g h t f u l . . . three sister goddesses i n G r e e k mythology w h o are the givers o f c h a r m a n d beauty, (p. 498) M a n y o f these connotations seemed suitable for w o m e n w h o , w i t h courage and kindness, have r isen above the surrounding oppression to dedicate themselves to da i ly h e l p i n g a n d enl ightening others. I was especia l ly interested i n the three sister goddesses a n d 2 1 use this term to refer to the expanded role those i n m y study h a d i n requesting to be n a m e d , i n g i v i n g feedback o n codes i n the focus group, a n d c o m m e n t i n g on/annotating the thesis. T h e l ines between researcher and researched were b l u r r e d also w h e n I was a research subject w i t h one o f m y co-researcher/participants i n t e r v i e w i n g me. I recognize that as the p r i m a r y researcher w h o is obta ining a graduate degree as a result o f this study, I h a d the p o w e r and responsibi l i ty over m u c h o f the process i n p l a n n i n g , c o n d u c t i n g a n d w r i t i n g this thesis. See Stacey (1991) for more o n p o w e r imbalances between researcher and researched. 3 sought out other sources. Stewart (1994) comments o n these figures i n G r e e k mythology: C o m p l e t i n g A p h r o d i t e ' s retinue these s m i l i n g d iv in i t ies r u l e d b u d d i n g plant l i f e a n d r i p e n i n g fruit. Daughters o f Z e u s by the O c e a n i d E u r y n o m e , their number a n d names varied. In t i m e it was agreed that there were three: A g l a i a , Euphrosyne a n d T h a l i a . B r i n g e r s o f j o y to every heart, i n spring they danced w i t h the nymphs. I n R o m a n lore, they were depicted naked, as "they must be free o f decei t" (Servius) , or bare ly-c lad, as "benefits want to be seen" (Seneca). T o Neoplatonis ts s y m b o l i z i n g the three f o l d aspect o f love , i n m e d i e v a l t imes they ep i tomised Beauty , C h a r i t y a n d Love . (p .289) T h e honesty a n d vulnerabi l i ty o f m y co-researcher/participants as they recounted their experiences to m e , seemed high- l ighted b y this c o n n e c t i o n w i t h the " n a k e d " Graces . B y w i s h i n g to have themselves ident i f ied i n order to c l a i m their lesbian identity, they are b e c o m i n g exposed, w a n t i n g to be seen. I felt quite t h r i l l e d w i t h this associat ion between the w o m e n i n m y study a n d these three sister goddesses w h o play j o y f u l l y i n the spring w i t h the nymphs. Starhawk (1987), w i t c h , ecofeminist , peace act iv ist a n d author, ta lks about Graces also w h e n she outl ines the necessity o f leadership roles and h o w these dif fer i n h i e r a r c h i c a l a n d non-hierarchica l groups. In h ierarchica l groups she sees that " a l l roles are f i l l e d by one person or a s m a l l el ite, w h o are rewarded m o r e h igh ly than others"(p.276). In some types o f non-hierarchica l groups, " i n w h i c h everyone has immanent value, f u l f i l l i n g certain roles does not set one apart f r o m the group or establ ish anyone as b e i n g i n t r i n s i c a l l y m o r e va luable than others" (p. 276). U s i n g the four direct ions o f earth based re l ig ions she envis ions four different types o f leadership roles. O n e o f these roles is for those she cal ls Graces stating: for the South, the d i rec t ion o f f ire , o f energy w e have the Graces , w h o help the group e x p a n d . . . . Graces are c o n t i n u a l l y aware o f the group's energy, h e l p i n g raise it when it flags, a n d to direct and channel it w h e n it is strong. Graces provide the group w i t h fire", enthusiasm, r a w energy, abi l i ty to expand. T h e y m a k e people feel 4 good, generate enthusiasm about the group, w e l c o m e newcomers , b r i n g people i n . T h e y furnish inspirat ion a n d generate n e w ideas, (p. 277-279) These qualit ies c o u l d also be associated w i t h the nurses, teachers, soc ia l workers a n d counsel lors i n m y study. I have felt i n s p i r e d by the w i s d o m a n d strength that permeates the narratives o f these w o m e n . A s enthusiastic leaders, not o n l y i n the lesbian a n d gay movement , but i n their respective professions, serv ing diverse populat ions, they are d a i l y creating n e w educational opportunities a n d strategies. M o r e a n d m o r e the tit le suggested b y m y equal ly a m a z i n g a n d i n s p i r i n g academic supervisor seemed appropriate. Starhawk comments o n Graces needing to " temper their enthusiasm w i t h some o f the grounding qualit ies o f dragons." (p. 279). D r a g o n s are f r o m the N o r t h a n d they "establ ish a n d guard the group's boundar ies" and "keep the group grounded"(p. 277). T h i s is g o o d advice also for those i n h e l p i n g professional careers. S o m e o f m y co-researchers/participants are educating the p u b l i c i n volunteer lesbian a n d gay organizations. I n this study though, under the theme, benefits at w o r k , they discussed their p a i d e m p l o y m e n t i n institutions such as hospitals , universit ies , c o m m u n i t y agencies a n d schools. In these m o r e t radi t ional settings, they are increas ingly tak ing the r i s k o f us ing their lesbian-ness to b r i n g about changes i n the bel iefs around them. Despi te worr ies for the security o f their j o b s a n d the increasingly organized back lash , middle-c lass lesbians such as the s i x i n v o l v e d i n this study, are c o m i n g out i n d i v i d u a l l y and i n groups, at home, at w o r k , o n the streets, and o n b u m p e r stickers everywhere. C l a i m i n g L e s b i a n Identity A s I focused m y M a s t e r ' s thesis o n e x p l o r i n g the interface between lesbian identity and the h e l p i n g professions, I was aware that I w o u l d be p u b l i c l y revea l ing m y personal identity as a lesbian, a m e m b e r o f a m u c h m a l i g n e d a n d very m a r g i n a l i z e d populat ion. D e c i d i n g to professional ly , academica l ly and personal ly disrupt heterosexism, was a r isk I was w i l l i n g and needed to take at this t i m e i n m y l i f e . 3 It seemed important to a d d to the i n f o r m a t i o n o n lesbians ' l ives as they struggle to l i v e i n a subculture surrounded by an often 3 H e t e r o s e x i s m is the b e l i e f that heterosexuality is superior thus rendering any other sexuality inferior. 5 hosti le dominant culture. In c o n d u c t i n g a qual i tat ive study, I choose to co l lect data through a focus group a n d in-depth interviews, w i t h others l i k e myself , w h o interact da i ly i n professional h e l p i n g posit ions. A s nurses, teachers, socia l workers , a n d counsel lors , w e have often r e m a i n e d i n v i s i b l e as lesbians i n an effort to ensure our l ive l ihoods . I was quite prepared to protect the anonymity o f the w o m e n w h o agreed to be i n c l u d e d i n this study but, f r o m the i n i t i a l interview, these courageous p u b l i c service professionals took an activist stance i n expressing their desire to name themselves as lesbians. T h e y rejected m y suggestions o f us ing a pseudonym, instead c h o o s i n g to be open and honest about their lesbian identity. T h e y generously gave m e their t i m e , their lesbian/career histories a n d their personal a n d c o l l e c t i v e w i s d o m . O n e o f these w o m e n consented to i n t e r v i e w m e so that m y story became part o f the data col lected. 1 feel honoured a n d p r i v i l e g e d to have heard their stories a n d to inc lude m y s e l f as a m e m b e r o f this group o f a m a z i n g lesbian h e l p i n g professionals. Entangled i n the details o f any one i n d i v i d u a l ' s l i fe are the personal details o f other people 's l ives. In order to address concerns about protect ing the anonymity o f s ignif icant others, the w o m e n i n this study reveal their names a n d professional posit ions as lesbians w h o are teachers, soc ia l workers , nurses a n d counsel lors , but the details o f their stories are t o l d i n subsequent chapters under relevant themes, i n a co l lec t ive , non-ident i f iable way. A l t h o u g h this thesis focuses m o r e o n professional p a i d w o r k , these w o m e n have a l l done m u c h o f the u n p a i d w o r k o f h o m e m a k i n g , i n some cases w i t h b o t h male a n d female partners. S o m e have also per formed the reproductive labour o f c h i l d bear ing and shouldered the enormous responsibi l i ty o f parenting. T h e s ix o f us are l i s ted next i n a lphabetical order w i t h a quote f r o m our interviews, our educational credentials , a n d our professional e m p l o y m e n t history. 6 " I a m an out lesbian counselor, so w h e n cl ients ask for a lesbian or gay posi t ive counselor, they get me. I can give them a safe p lace to explore their o w n sexuality, something I never h a d . " N A N C Y B U Z Z E L L B . P . E . , M S c , P h . D . Teacher (elementary), A t h l e t i c D i r e c t o r / C o a c h , Instructor (university) , Psychologis t "It 's very hard to extract your lesbianism f r o m y o u r f e m i n i s m . I can see heterosexism . . . . I see the structures o f society a n d h o w they play on w o m e n and the oppression o f w o m e n . T h e y e n d up b e i n g psychiatr ized and m e d i c a l i z e d -1 w i l l talk about their s ituation as a s o c i o l o g i c a l t h i n g - society has these v i e w s on m e n a n d w o m e n - I ' l l contextual ize i t . " SUSAN DIANE R . N . , B . A . , M . A . Registered N u r s e , Staf f D e v e l o p m e n t Instructor, C l i n i c a l C o u n s e l o r "It (oppression as a lesbian) can sensitize y o u to other k inds o f oppressions because y o u can relate to it o n your o w n personal level . Y o u can say I ' m white , so I have pr iv i lege i n that w a y but I ' m lesbian so I d o n ' t have pr iv i lege i n that w a y . " P A T MacDIARMID B . A . , B . S . W . , M . S . W . S o c i a l W o r k e r ( c o m m u n i t y agencies), V o l u n t e e r C o o r d i n a t o r " I ' m very conscious o f m y language. I never say w h e n y o u get m a r r i e d - 1 say when y o u fa l l i n love w i t h someone, w h e n y o u decide y o u want to be a partner w i t h someone. . . . I use those k i n d s o f words and I try to be real ly i n c l u s i v e and I b r i n g up options and alternatives. . . I m a k e it a very safe c l imate for the k ids to discuss the issue." J O A N M E R R I F I E L D B . E D E n v i r o n m e n t a l E d u c a t o r , Teacher (elementary) " I have a v i s i o n o f the k i n d o f w o r l d I ' d l i k e to l i v e i n a n d I set about to do w i t h m y l i fe - whether it is as a teacher or student or partner or whatever- is to try a n d create that w o r l d . I see that needing to occur across m a n y borders, boundaries . . . what d iv ides us - that keeps us seeming as different." C A R L A R A N D A L L R.^N., B . S . N . , M . S . N . , Ph.D.(student) Registered N u r s e , N u r s e E d u c a t o r (col lege and university) " Y o u n g k ids are c o m i n g out i n the school system and it is real ly hard for t h e m and they need role models . T h e y need support not just o f the gay and lesbian teachers but they need the support f r o m straight teachers." D E B R A S U T H E R L A N D B . E D . , M . E D . Teacher (secondary), Instructor ( c o m m u n i t y col lege) , counselor ( school , col lege, c o m m u n i t y ) 7 Socio/Cul tura l/Histor ica l Contexts W h e n l o o k i n g at l i v e d experience i n qual i tat ive research, it is necessary to be aware o f the p o l i t i c a l , s o c i a l , h is tor ica l and cul tural structures i n w h i c h this experience is embedded. M y co-researcher/participants made the c h o i c e to be open about their lesbian- ness. H o w l i n k e d is this c h o i c e , at this h is tor ica l t i m e , to the a c t i v i s m that started i n previous decades at the grassroots leve l a n d has n o w inf i l trated the mainstream culture a n d the media? There are other scholars l o o k i n g c lose ly at this quest ion (Faderman, 1991; R o s s , 1995), but I w i s h to i n c l u d e a f e w c o m m e n t s here to give a b a c k g r o u n d to m y study a n d the co-researcher/participants' l ives. W e are e m b e d d e d i n the pol i t ica l/soc ia l c l i m a t e o f the spr ing a n d summer o f 1998 i n the C a n a d i a n ci ty o f V a n c o u v e r . S o m e o f us are i n v o l v e d i n a larger group c a l l e d the G a y a n d L e s b i a n Educators o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a ( G A L E - B C ) . T h i s grassroots, volunteer organizat ion, over the past seven years, has made inroads into the educat ion system b y g i v i n g homophobia/heterosexism workshops o n request. G A L E - B C has also been a resource for other educators, administrators, parents, and c o m m u n i t y groups i n the L o w e r M a i n l a n d o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a . T h i s w o r k has not gone unnot iced w i t h the B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a Teacher ' s Federat ion recently v o t i n g to place heterosexism/homophobia into its educat ion mandate. Other factions i n society have also taken not ice o f the w o r k b e i n g done b y these educators and there is an organized backlash. G r o u p s w h i c h often have connections to certa in re l ig ious aff i l iat ions that v i e w homosexual i ty as a s i n f u l behaviour, are very m u c h i n v o l v e d i n resist ing changes to teachers' and the school systems' ways o f d isseminat ing i n f o r m a t i o n about gay or lesbian l i fe . I n A p r i l o f 1997, the school b o a r d i n Surrey, a major c i ty near V a n c o u v e r , banned three b o o k s ( r e c o m m e n d e d by G A L E - B C ) f r o m b e i n g used by teachers i n its l o w e r - l e v e l , elementary classrooms. T h i s act was seen as d iscr iminatory and l e d to an organized c a m p a i g n by some teachers, parents and students, c a l l e d B i g o t s B a n B o o k s , to raise awareness a n d l a u n c h a const i tut ional chal lenge i n the f o r m o f a lawsui t against the school board. A s I wri te this thesis, newspapers such as the V a n c o u v e r S u n a n d the V a n c o u v e r P r o v i n c e , have d a i l y headlines about this landmark court case. 8 This flurry of publicity is not isolated to British Columbia. The North American entertainment industry has also seen an increase in depictions of lesbians and gay male characters in major motion pictures and in magazines. Ross (1995) comments on this increased public visibility stating "how is it that the lesbian love that dared not speak its name is now, in the 1990's refusing to shut up?" (p. 3). She documents some examples of this phenomena as it focuses on lesbians. In 1993, Newsweek featured two lesbians 'stepping out front and center'; New York magazine made a spectacle of 'lesbian chic ' and assured al l the non-queers that it's all white, professional, Armani-draped style and no substance. A n d the August cover of Vanity Fair showed singer songwriter k.d.lang and super model Cindy Crawford playfully acting out lang's lesbian sex fantasy. ( p.3) This visibility has continued with North American wide interest as millions became glued to their televisions sets in 1997, to watch as comedienne El len Degeneres "came out" on her television sitcom. The Gay Pride Parade for 1998 in Vancouver had more registrants than ever before. This is quite surprising as a great many lesbians and gay men were out of the country in Amsterdam, either as spectators or participants, in the sporting activities of the 1998 Gay Games. Ross (1995) states "In urban and rural milieux, lesbian/gay/queer and queer-positive resources are multiplying - not shrinking - a testament to the fortitude and imagination of those faced with adversity, hostility and feelings of non-existence"(p. 230). The reclaiming of the term queer4 and the activism associated with it seemed to begin with "Queer Nation" and the " in your face" activism by gay men to bring A I D S awareness to the public. Thus a new generation of activism entered into the political arena but older activists remember other liberation movements that paved the way. Queer rhetoric often gives the impression that direct action politics was invented in "Queer, although not embraced by all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, is a term used to reclaim and empower a derogatory label. It is identified with an attitude and strategies that deconstruct ideologies based on the homo-hetero binary, question notions of gender, reproductive sexuality and the family, and call for radical change in other social institutions all based on heterosexism such as "the press, the/education system, policing and the law"(Smyth, 1992, p.20). " 9 1987, that the B l a c k and W o m e n ' s L i b e r a t i o n M o v e m e n t haven' t happened, that the campaigns against nuclear weapons, abort ion, reproductive rights a n d v io lence against w o m e n have not occurred and have h a d no inf luence o n the w a y queer a c t i v i s m manifests itself. ( S m y t h , 1992, p.28) A l t h o u g h Queer N a t i o n h a d some lesbian involvement , it was cr i t iqued as " h a v i n g too narrow a focus, one that appeals to p r i m a r i l y white , m i d d l e class gay m e n a n d is o b l i v i o u s to the special problems o f lesbians, the w o r k i n g class and rac ia l and ethnic m i n o r i t i e s " (Faderman, 1991, p. 301). T h e nineties coal i t ions amongst lesbians a n d gay m e n is not wi thout di f f icult ies . " O f course r i d d i n g m e n o f m i s o g y n y and creating a mutual confidence whereby lesbians no longer need to separate f r o m m e n to define their o w n agendas is a d i f f i cu l t process" ( S m y t h , 1992, p. 29). S m y t h proposes a question that m a n y lesbians ask w h e n w o r k i n g w i t h gay m e n , one that c o u l d be broadened to i n c l u d e the frustration and rage that the feminist m o v e m e n t has h a d i n dea l ing w i t h most m e n since its beginnings. " A r e gay m e n i n queer settings w i l l i n g to l i s ten a n d be cha l lenged?" (p. 29). S m y t h also mentions the problems that non-white lesbians and g a y m e n struggle w i t h i n an involvement w i t h queer pol i t ics . Part o f their struggle i n "the 60's a n d 70's was the right to retain their cultural distinctness. ' G a y ' or ' l e s b i a n ' may not be the p r i m a r y basis o f their identity, and to take o n the labe l 'queer ' is seen as a ' w h i t e w a s h i n g ' o f their existence" (p. 32). B i s e x u a l s and the transgendered populat ions are also struggling to find a p lace for their part icular issues under the queer umbrel la . F a d e r m a n (1991) describes a study where o lder lesbians, l o o k i n g back f r o m the eighties, saw that " i n earl ier decades, d u r i n g the traumatic events o f their l ives such as a breakup o f a re lat ionship, they received l i t t le or no c o m f o r t i n g since they d i d not b e l o n g to a lesbian c o m m u n i t y a n d they c o u l d not te l l their heterosexual fr iends w h y they were suf fer ing" (p. 298). T h e eighties were seen by these w o m e n as m u c h m o r e supportive w i t h a larger c o m m u n i t y and less o f a need to be c loseted i n as many areas o f their l ives (p. 298). T h e seventies h a d witnessed the growth o f s m a l l clusters o f m o r e p o l i t i c a l l y active lesbian- feminists , usual ly i n larger urban centers. These act ivit ies gave b i r t h to L e s b i a n N a t i o n , a forerunner to Queer N a t i o n , w h i c h had a focus o n consciousness ra i s ing a n d a v i s i o n o f a 10 w o r l d based o n values other than patriarchal androcentric ones. M a n y w o m e n - r u n cooperatives, festivals and other l i v i n g , w o r k i n g and entertainment alternatives began d u r i n g these " r a d i c a l " t imes. F a d e r m a n (1991) comments o n the 1970's successes o f these very brave a n d h a r d w o r k i n g lesbian feminists: T h e y ident i f ied the w o m e n ' s m o v e m e n t as h o m o p h o b i c a n d the gay m o v e m e n t as sexist, a n d they fought against both. In the process they not o n l y forced those movements to open up to lesbian and feminist ideas, but they also established their o w n movement that created a unique " w o m e n ' s c u l t u r e " i n m u s i c , spir i tual i ty , a n d literature that made at least a s m a l l dent i n mainstream culture, (p. 244) L e s b i a n c o m m u n i t i e s a n d networks became larger a n d were more establ ished i n the eighties rooted i n these i n i t i a l soc ia l experiments o f the seventies. These are some o f the various social/cultural/historical contexts that surround the lesbian-ness o f the l i fe s t o r i e s j n m y study w h i c h span the seventies, eighties and nineties. A l s o surrounding m y co-researcher/participants is the gendered nature o f the female soc ia l i zat ion process w h i c h often leads w o m e n into the heterosexist environment o f a female dominated professional career. I discuss these l i n k e d subjects i n more detai l i n the literature r e v i e w i n chapter two. F e m i n i s m . Sexual i ty a n d L e s b i a n Identity: A C o n c e p t u a l F r a m e w o r k . T h i s thesis and the stories conta ined w i t h i n it are very m u c h embedded i n a feminist v i e w o f the w o r l d . T h e w o m e n ' s l i b e r a t i o n m o v e m e n t has a n d is changing oppressive socia l/pol i t ica l structures and tradit ions w h i c h have constrained the h u m a n situation for thousands o f years. " F e m i n i s m is a m o n g other things, a response to the fact that w o m e n either have been left out of, or i n c l u d e d i n demeaning d is f igur ing ways i n what has been a n almost e x c l u s i v e l y male account o f the w o r l d " (Lugones & S p e l m a n , 1995). B y c l a i m i n g a feminist v i e w , I a m expressing m y b e l i e f that w o m e n have been oppressed and m y c o m m i t m e n t to w o r k i n g towards changing this socia l/pol i t ical/economic circumstance. S i m o n e de B e a u v i o r (1991/1952), a french phi losopher w h o wrote T h e S e c o n d S e x . is credited for some i n i t i a l feminist concepts, i n particular, the construct ion a n d d e f i n i t i o n o f w o m a n by m a n as "other" , as an object to his pos i t ion as subject T h e term "f irst wave 11 f e m i n i s m " usual ly encompasses the nineteenth century w o m e n ' s m o v e m e n t w h i c h fought for, a m o n g other things, the right for educat ion for w o m e n , temperance, a n d w o m e n ' s suffrage. B l a c k w o m e n were i n v o l v e d i n the early feminist m o v e m e n t , for e x a m p l e Sojourner T r u t h , a former slave w h o " c h a l l e n g e d the popular doctrine o f w o m e n ' s de l i cacy a n d phys ica l i n f e r i o r i t y " at a w o m e n ' s rights convent ion i n the U n i t e d States i n 1851 (Andersen, 1997, p. 306). S e c o n d wave f e m i n i s m , usual ly thought to start i n the late s ixt ies, dealt w i t h issues such as "access to b ir th c o n t r o l , rights to education and employment , and e x c l u s i o n f r o m formerly m e n o n l y occupations a n d organizat ions" ( A n d e r s e n , 1997, p. 313). T h e feminist s logan "the personal is p o l i t i c a l " e v o l v e d f r o m consciousness ra is ing groups that brought i n d i v i d u a l w o m e n ' s l i v e d experiences out into the open so that systemic oppression c o u l d be recognized. T h e dominant discourse o f the first wave and the early part o f second w a v e f e m i n i s m , h a d been wri t ten by a n d was m a i n l y c o n c e r n e d w i t h the l ives o f white , m i d d l e - class w o m e n w h o were attempting to throw o f f the infer ior conceptions o f w o m a n / w o m e n , were f ight ing for equal status w i t h m e n , a n d e x p l o r i n g the cause(s) o f this systemic oppression. A s m o r e and more m i d d l e class w o m e n entered the p a i d w o r k f o r c e , equal pay for equal w o r k became a major feminist issue. I n the 1960s, 70s a n d 80s, the B l a c k m o v e m e n t and anti-racist po l i t i cs i n the U n i t e d States became the focus for many b l a c k w o m e n . T h e y felt that they d i d not b e l o n g i n the feminist m o v e m e n t w h i c h h a d evo lved i n the 50s a n d 60s w i t h its focus o n the i so lat ion o f the middle-c lass (usual ly white) w i f e and mother. R e s p o n d i n g to the c r i t i c i s m o f r a c i s m f r o m w o m e n o f co lour , o f c l a s s i s m f r o m w o r k i n g class w o m e n , and o f heterosexism f r o m lesbians, means that the feminist movement has n o w a m u c h broadened perspective. A s s e r t i n g the need for a w o m e n ' s agenda, not just p r o v i n g equality to m e n , but l o o k i n g at differences f r o m them and amongst ourselves, became part o f the later stages o f the second wave. T h e i n c l u s i o n o f other oppressions continues to evolve w i t h race, class and gender a l l h i g h on the feminist agenda. Heterosex ism a n d a b l e i s m have more recently gained a share o f the focus o f feminist po l i t i cs a n d literature. Lesbians o f colour(s) m a k e a dist inct contr ibut ion as they document 12 the i n t e r l o c k i n g affect o f r a c i s m , sexism and heterosexism. Feminis t theory is not one theory as this b r i e f o v e r v i e w o f f e m i n i s m might suggest. " F e m i n i s m is not dependent o n i d e o l o g i c a l purity ( indeed it has a lways been a m i x t u r e o f c o n f l i c t i n g ideologies) or any f o r m a l organizat ional structure" ( K r a m e r , 1993, p. 52). D o u g l a s (1990) comments that " feminists w h o disagree w i t h a group's ideas or process just f o r m another g r o u p " (p. 11). There are numerous a n d diverse theories a n d posit ions taken b y social ist feminists , rad ica l feminists , cul tural feminists (eco-feminists) , marxis t feminists , l i b e r a l feminists , l esbian feminists , postmodern feminists , poststructural feminists , g lobal feminists , afrocentric feminists a n d more , plus sub-groupings a n d combinat ions a m o n g these branches. These different perspectives attempt to describe w o m e n ' s oppression a n d its possible causes a n d f rom these posit ions develop var ious l iberat ing strategies. Issues often important to f e m i n i s m are power, gender, s isterhood, voice and oppression. T h e deconstruct ion o f hierarchies based o n dualisms/binaries (for e x a m p l e male/female, public/ private, nature/culture) are noteworthy feminist concepts that inf luence p o l i t i c a l a c t i o n and theory. Issues such as v io lence against w o m e n , unequal economic/occupat ional situations for m e n a n d w o m e n , the unpaid female labour inside the f a m i l y structure, s t i l l very m u c h plague society and garner feminist attention. " F e m i n i s m is a m e d i u m for w o m e n to r e c l a i m our anger, share it, p r o c l a i m it p u b l i c l y , and ground it i n the e c o n o m i c a n d p o l i t i c a l condit ions o f our l i v e s " ( B r i s k i n , 1990, p.29). U n r a v e l i n g the contradict ions i n w o m e n ' s l ives can lead to l iberat ing strategies, according to B r i s k i n . T w o o f these contradict ions she discusses are most relevant to this research. She refers to "the devaluat ion o f m o t h e r i n g (mother w o r k , house w o r k , w i f e w o r k ) and the simultaneous presentation o f motherhood as a w o m a n ' s l i f e w o r k " (p. 2). I w i l l discuss later h o w the female d o m i n a t e d professions c a n be seen as a n extension o f w o m e n ' s caring/mothering role into the p u b l i c rea lm where car ing is seen as " n a t u r a l " for w o m e n a n d therefore deva lued a n d not a w a r d e d a fa ir share o f s o c i a l p o w e r or monetary rewards. 5 5 T h e w o r d " n a t u r a l " brings us to the feminis t arguments against b i o l o g i c a l determinism. M a n y behaviours that are seen as nurtur ing are learned and not c o n f i n e d to w o m e n . 13 A n o t h e r contradict ion B r i s k i n reveals is the message that "heterosexual practices are deemed n o r m a l a n d n a t u r a l " yet "h is tory shows that sexual practices change over t i m e , vary across cultures and must be learned. T h e y also must be enforced through government a n d soc ia l pressure" (p. 4). T h u s w e have c o m p u l s o r y heterosexuality were w o m e n are taught "that their survival and l i fe choices are ( indeed, should be) b o u n d up w i t h m e n and m a r r i a g e " (p. 4). T h i s heterosexist ideology a n d its h o m o p h o b i c messages p o l i c e sexuality and "result i n an absence o f gay - and - lesbian posi t ive images and a deafening si lence about h o m o s e x u a l r e a l i t y " (p. 5). H e t e r o s e x i s m a n d its effects are o u t l i n e d i n the stories rer presented i n this study so this subject w i l l be discussed further i n the literature r e v i e w i n the next chapter. Progressive academic c irc les n o w have a n increas ing interest i n feminist a n d queer theory/research, as sources o f transformative soc ia l ideologies and practices ( H o n e y c h u r c h , 1996). In educat ion courses and c u r r i c u l a i n general , mater ia l o n gays a n d lesbians is s t i l l neg l ig ib le and adult education as an academic d i s c i p l i n e has b e e n cr i t iqued as h a v i n g neglected research i n this area ( H i l l , 1995). Sexual i ty is often left out o f the analysis i n many areas yet is bas ic to the condit ions a n d structures surrounding h u m a n social relations i n c l u d i n g inst i tut ional ones. In a s i m i l a r w a y to race, sexuality is s e l d o m understood as part o f the mater ia l condit ions o f one 's existence, even though there is ample evidence that sexuality structures relations i n the w o r k p l a c e , the lega l system a n d adminis t ra t ion o f just ice , state p o l i c i e s s u c h as i m m i g r a t i o n , s o c i a l welfare a n d m u c h more. (Creese & S t a s i u l i s , 1996, p. 7) In the past and i n many places today, lesbians or w o m e n w h o love w o m e n , have b e e n constructed predominant ly i n t w o ways: either as v i l e , e v i l , a n d s i c k or as a n i n v i s i b l e , non-existent, or barely noticeable phenomena that happens only m i n i m a l l y and somewhere else. T h i s a n n i h i l a t i o n o f the ideology a n d practice o f w o m e n b o n d i n g sexual ly , emot ional ly and spir i tual ly enables heterosexism and male supremacy to continue as the o n l y legit imate, " n a t u r a l " existence ( K i t z i n g e r , 1987). C o m p u l s o r y heterosexism serves the patriarchal order by ensuring that w o m e n have sexual/reproductive ties to m e n ( A d r i e n n e ' 14 R i c h , 1980). " T h e 'pr ivate ' nature o f sexuality . . . leaves sexuality b e y o n d the boundaries o f most analyses, w h i l e reaf f i rming the normative assumptions about heterosexual i ty" (Creese & Stasui l is , 1996, p. 7). T h e gay a n d lesbian activist s o c i a l movement has brought attention to the injustices perpetrated against this group. T h i s may account for the increas ing m e d i a curiosi ty and preoccupat ion w i t h lesbians i n the nineties but the contrast w i t h the past i n v i s i b i l i t y o f lesbians is a bit confusing. Is this m e d i a b l i t z a fad w i t h the p u b l i c interest b e i n g only superf ic ia l a n d l i k e l y to fade? T h e G a y G a m e s i n 1990, h e l d i n V a n c o u v e r , a n d i n 1994 h e l d i n N e w Y o r k , a n d recently i n 1998 i n A m s t e r d a m , d i d not get m e d i a attention i n N o r t h A m e r i c a even though w o r l d records i n some sport ing events were broken. Is the p u b l i c real ly interested i n the struggles and achievements o f m i n o r i t y sexualit ies? M a y b e as a result o f a n d certainly i n the midst o f these academic a n d social/historical changes, 1 have chosen to focus m y research o n lesbians. M y P o s i t i o n In this postposit ivist era, the researcher can no longer pretend to be c o m p l e t e l y object ive, detached, a n d value-neutral. T h e white coat o f the scientist w e n o w k n o w covered a h u m a n b e i n g usually male , often white and m i d d l e class, whose perspective c o l o u r e d his research questions and methods. In qualitat ive methodology the researcher is seen as the " instrument o f research" w i t h her presence i n the l ives o f the participants seen as " fundamenta l to the p a r a d i g m " ( M a r s h a l l a n d R o s s m a n , 1995. p. 59). K r i e g e r (1996) discusses this " re la t ionship between the observer and the observed the m a n y ways i n w h i c h our analyses o f others result f r o m highly interact ional processes i n w h i c h w e are personal ly i n v o l v e d . W e b r i n g biases and m o r e than biases. W e b r i n g id iosyncrat ic patterns o f r e c o g n i t i o n " (p. 180). K r i e g e r looks deeply at the quest ion o f subjectivity i n the research process and states that i n soc ia l research w e often "see others as w e k n o w our se lves" ( p l 9 0 ) . She goes o n to state " i n soc ia l science, I th ink, we must acknowledge the personal far more than w e do. . . . W e need to l i n k our statements about those \y(e study w i t h statements about our selves, for i n reality neither stands a lone ." (p. 192). T h e impetus for c o l l e c t i n g career/life histories o f other lesbian h e l p i n g professionals 15 came f r o m a personal desire to share w i t h and learn f rom others w h o are w o r k i n g i n a contradictory space. I experience d a i l y the tensions a n d contradict ions o f h o w m y lesbian identity disrupts the heterosexist assumptions that i n f o r m the c a r i n g role o f those l i k e m y s e l f w h o w o r k as h e l p i n g professionals. M y w o r k history as a nurse/counsellor/instructor includes not only g i v i n g the occas ional h y p o d e r m i c inject ion but a variety o f experiences such as fac i l i ta t ing group a n d i n d i v i d u a l therapy, case l o a d management, a n d designing/teaching educational programs. 1 felt curious about the similarit ies/differences o f the l i fe stories o f other lesbian h e l p i n g professionals i n areas s u c h as nurs ing, teaching, s o c i a l w o r k and counsel l ing . A l t h o u g h this study is i n f o r m e d by a personal passion 1 assume that it w i l l offer insights a n d deepen understanding for others. M y part icular ins ider status i n this research project has been used to push deeper into areas about w h i c h I have knowledge a n d experience. I t r ied to be aware, as m u c h as possible , o f h o w m y subjective experiences can c o l o u r the lens through w h i c h I v i e w other 's stories. I have i n c l u d e d thelparts o f m y story here that seem relevant to m y posi t ion o f lesbian h e l p i n g professional w h o is n o w researching the stories o f others w i t h s i m i l a r personal a n d professional locations so that m y perspective/biases may be more obvious to the reader G r o w i n g up i n s m a l l t o w n O n t a r i o i n the fifties and sixties gave me no overt or conscious k n o w l e d g e o f homosexuals or o f h o m o s e x u a l activity. Sexual i ty was not an issue discussed very often i n m y home a n d sex educat ion at s c h o o l was c o n f i n e d to sperm a n d egg m o v i e s w h i c h w e n o w k n o w are gender b i a s e d . 6 I v i v i d l y remember ga ining knowledge f r o m m y peers at about age 10 or 11 about intercourse and menstruation but there is no m e m o r y o f whisperings or giggles about sex between w o m e n . H o w I learned or was t o l d about lesbianism remains a mystery but 1 k n o w that m y very p o w e r f u l react ion to the discovery o f m y lesbian-ness i n m y twenties meant that I h a d absorbed information/misinformation/myths at a deep level . T h i s repression o f 6 See the B i o l o g y a n d G e n d e r Study G r o u p , (1988/1989) for m o r e information^ contrary to nonular b e l i e f about the active role the egg (ovum) plays as its m i c r o s c o p i c v i l l a e reach out and "select" a snerm and then "null" it into the wall of its structure 16 k n o w l e d g e , yet actual ly h a v i n g k n o w l e d g e w h i c h i n c l u d e d society 's c o n d e m n a t i o n o f sex that is not heterosexual, seems to agree w i t h the repressive hypothesis w h i c h Foucault (1978/1990) explores a n d deconstructs. T r a c k i n g discourses around sex b a c k to the C a t h o l i c confess ional , he cal ls it "the d isquiet ing enigma: not a t h i n g w h i c h stubbornly shows itself, but one w h i c h always hides, the ins id ious presence that speaks i n a v o i c e so m u t e d a n d often d isguised that one r isks r e m a i n i n g d e a f to i t " ( p. 35). H e maintains that there was a proliferation o f ta lk a n d i n f o r m a t i o n about sex as parents and teachers w o r k e d to stop c h i l d r e n f r o m masturbating; m e d i c i n e t r ied to therapize a n d cure people f r o m a l l k inds o f so c a l l e d sexual disorders; a n d laws were made regarding var ious sexual cr imes w i t h the p o l i c e attempting to enforce these. D i s c u s s i n g m o d e r n societ ies ' v i e w s o n sex he states " they dedicated themselves to speaking o f it a d i n f i n i t u m , w h i l e e x p l o i t i n g it as the secret" (p. 35). I c a n o n l y see, i n retrospect, g l impses o f m y lesbian-ness d u r i n g m y c h i l d h o o d a n d adolescence. T h e roots o f m y feminist ideology can be seen more easily. "It 's a m a n ' s w o r l d a n d it makes m e angry" m y mother w o u l d say as she l i v e d her tradi t ional w i f e a n d mother role. M y father was probably m o r e i n v o l v e d than m a n y m e n i n assist ing i n what seemed to m e to be m y mother ' s enormous j o b o f ra is ing their seven chi ldren. C o m i n g h o m e f r o m his management pos i t ion he w o u l d m a i n t a i n , create a n d repair the structures o f our various homes a n d automobi les a n d h e l p w i t h the household a n d c h i l d - c a r i n g duties. T h e tradit ional gender roles were expanded to i n c l u d e m y brothers ' assignment to their regular turn at d o i n g the domest ic chore o f w a s h i n g dishes. T h i s seemed a bit one-s ided though as 1 never d i d get a turn at m o w i n g the l a w n a n d m y current abi l i ty or interest i n f i x i n g anything m e c h a n i c a l is l i m i t e d . I was aware f r o m a n early age that 1 d i d not see m y mother ' s l i f e as one that I w i s h e d for myself . I often said as a c h i l d that I was not getting m a r r i e d T h i s usual ly brought laughter f r o m m y extended f a m i l y o f uncles a n d aunts w h o seemed interested i n discuss ing what they saw as inevitable i n the future o f their precocious niece. W h e n I reached h igh-school at age thirteen, I remember del iberately a v o i d i n g the w e e k l y d iscuss ion group conducted for teens by our pastor (having been t o l d he w o u l d be 17 d iscuss ing dating). I a c c o m p l i s h e d this b y e x p l a i n i n g that I w o u l d rather j o i n the c h u r c h choir . H e r e I c o u l d s ing beside one o f m y c lose gir l fr iends. D a t i n g was not a n act ivi ty that I l o o k e d f o r w a r d to, and 1 eventually experienced it as s o m e h o w b o r i n g yet s imultaneously tension laden. I c o u l d not understand w h y m y gir l fr iends wanted a b o y f r i e n d w i t h a car. I just wanted the car, the b o y f r i e n d seemed l i k e extra baggage. M u c h to m y del ight 1 was able to purchase m y first car f r o m m y grandparents at the age o f eighteen. In this 1962 P o n t i a c I went o f f to p i c k up what seemed l i k e the required b o y f r i e n d to go to the n u r s i n g students' dance. Foucaul t (1978/1990) discusses the "hyster izat ion o f w o m e n ' s b o d i e s " w h i c h leads to p a t h o l o g i z i n g a n d d iscredi t ing w o m e n ' s abi l i t ies due to b i o l o g y (p. 104). T h i s discourse has he lped to keep w o m e n subordinate for centuries a n d enabled the a l l o c a t i o n o f w o m e n away f r o m the professions (de B e a u v i o r , 1952/1974, p .xxx) . A t age eleven after h a v i n g read a b o o k about a l a w y e r I d iscussed it w i t h a male relative. T h i s m a n was a lawyer h i m s e l f a n d d i d our f a m i l y ' s legal transactions. H i s response to m y enquiries about l a w school were that I s h o u l d be sure to take t y p i n g a n d shorthand i n h igh-school a n d he w o u l d g ive me a j o b i n his off ice as a secretary w h e n I graduated. I remember b e i n g upset by his response a n d expressing some indignat ion about this to m y mother. I c o m p l e t e d h i g h - s c h o o l , a n d was accepted into several universit ies w i t h an interest at that t i m e i n b e c o m i n g a psychologist . M y parents saw university as i m p r a c t i c a l a n d a place where d r u g abuse was rampant. N u r s i n g was an occupat ion that m y mother h e l d i n h i g h esteem. S o m e h o w 1 dut i fu l ly " c h o s e " nursing s c h o o l w i t h m y goal b e i n g to w o r k i n psychiatry as a w a y to help others a n d possibly f inance future university studies. A f t e r graduating, I w o r k e d for three years as a nurse. I then entered universi ty a n d s imultaneously ended a s o m e h o w d u l l , dat ing re lat ionship w i t h a nice y o u n g m a n w h o everyone thought was very "su i tab le" for me. I h a d been taking the o c c a s i o n a l course a n d felt that I was o b v i o u s l y not turning out to be the " w i f e a n d m o t h e r " type w h i c h seemed to then point towards b e i n g a "career- w o m a n " . It was w h i l e studying fu l l - t ime for an undergraduate degree i n psychology a n d w o r k i n g part-time as a nurse that I fe l l very m u c h i n love w i t h a female co-worker. 18 T h i s was an except ional ly confus ing t i m e for both o f us w i t h intense, o v e r w h e l m i n g feelings a n d absolutely no f ramework w i t h w h i c h to understand these. I remember saying the w o r d lesbian out l o u d once and this h o r r i f i e d m y equal ly naive g ir l f r iend. She seemed to handle the s i tuation better o n a concrete l e v e l though, c h o o s i n g to leave her husband a n d m o v e i n w i t h me. T h i s unfortunately lead to a " h o m e - w r e c k e r " image o f m y s e l f and, a l o n g w i t h the concurrent stressor o f m y mother 's bout w i t h cancer, p lunged m e into a depression. T o say that 1 was complete ly unprepared and h a d di f f i cu l ty accept ing the enormity o f this l i fe-changing transit ion, is an understatement. O n e bizarre s y m p t o m o f m y di f f icul t ies w h i c h lasted for the better part o f a year, was the pattern o f r i s i n g i n the m o r n i n g and v o m i t i n g about three t imes a week. T h i s 1 n o w recognize as m y inabi l i ty to s w a l l o w this n e w piece o f i n f o r m a t i o n about myself . E v e n though I h a d no conscious awareness o f l earning anything about lesbians, s o m e h o w it h a d been c o m m u n i c a t e d to me at some deep leve l that this was a despicable and deeply despised entity to w h i c h b e l o n g i n g was more than nauseating. T h e discourses Foucaul t (1978/1990) mentions that surrounded the "perverse adul t " were o b v i o u s l y deep i n m y psyche (p. 104). I left the situation and put distance between m y s e l f a n d m y gir l fr iend. M y attempt to deal w i t h m y phys ica l a n d emot ional health lead m e to see several health care professionals. F o r about five years, m y sexuality was never a topic o f these discussions. Situated i n s m a l l t o w n Ontar io i n the seventies, a lesbian identity to m e , seemed to entai l huge losses such as m y respectabil ity, m y career as a professional i n the c o m m u n i t y , and the love and acceptance o f m y fami ly . I w o r k e d as a nurse and as a staff development instructor, f in ished m y degree, occas ional ly dat ing m e n , but m a i n t a i n i n g correspondence and often vacat ioning w i t h m y ex-g ir l f r iend w h o was n o w l i v i n g a fa i r ly " o u t " lesbian l i festyle. E v e n t u a l l y 1 d e c i d e d that 1 h a d to leave s m a l l t o w n O n t a r i o i f I wanted to evolve into a w h o l e , complete person. 1 h a d read the s ix books i n the t o w n l ibrary on the subject o f lesbians, w h e n a p u b l i c d isplay o f homophobia/heterosexism c l i n c h e d the matter for me. A p o l i c e ra id o n a p u b l i c w a s h r o o m where video-cameras h a d been P l a c e d , l e d to charges against numerous m e n for h o m o s e x u a l activity. T h i s l e d to court cajigs; f a m i l i e s c r u m b l i n g ; j o b s lost; and the suicides o f two o f the men. G a y activists f r o m an urban center came to 19 t o w n and gained m e d i a attention. T h i s tragic mess was the final push for m e towards finding a less barbaric c o m m u n i t y i n w h i c h to deal w i t h m y sexuality/identity. M i g r a t i o n to urban centers has been a theme i n many lesbian l ives. T h e m o v e to bigger cit ies c a n b r i n g anonymity so that w o r k i n g a n d l i v i n g s o c i a l l ives as lesbians is possible. F i n d i n g an organized lesbian c o m m u n i t y w i t h bars, coffee houses and social interest groups is another draw. V a n c o u v e r , where I have l i v e d for the past fourteen years, contains m a n y o f these organizations. I have subsequently been i n v o l v e d i n relat ionships w i t h w o m e n i n this c i ty w i t h its large a n d very active lesbian a n d gay c o m m u n i t y . I have sought out feminist therapists both lesbian and heterosexual a n d various s e l f he lp and therapy groups as I w o r k e d through personal a n d career issues, some o f w h i c h seemed related to dea l ing w i t h external/internal oppression surrounding m y lesbian identity and subsequent relationships. A l t h o u g h I have found therapy h e l p f u l , the more open I a m about m y lesbian-ness, the increas ing v i s i b i l i t y o f lesbians i n the surrounding culture, a n d the more I pursue expanded career opportunit ies, the happier a n d healthier 1 seem to feel. In the past fourteen years 1 have been out to m a n y o f m y co-workers , m o r e i n some w o r k settings than others but it is s t i l l a process for m e to navigate the negative stereotypes a n d deal w i t h heterosexist assumptions. C h o o s i n g to focus m y academic w o r k and research o n lesbians brought to the surface m a n y core issues/blocks for me. F o r example , the U n i v e r s i t y o f T o r o n t o offered to pay m y airfare w h e n 1 submitted a paper about m y research o n lesbians. It was to be presented a n d p u b l i s h e d as part o f a qual i tat ive research conference. M u c h fear and g r i e f overcame me as I considered speaking i n this a c a d e m i c p u b l i c setting i n the province i n w h i c h 1 was born . A t t e m p t i n g to negotiate this c o m i n g out i n academia so that 1 w o u l d not be the o n l y w o m a n i n a session w i t h three other m e n , brought resistance f r o m the organizers o f the conference. Fassinger (1996) pinpoints the p r o b l e m I was h a v i n g when she states "as w o m a n - i d e n t i f i e d w o m e n , lesbians may experience a n even greater need than their heterosexual counterparts for female support, again suggesting t^e, addit ive effects on lesbians o f a w e l l - d o c u m e n t e d p r o b l e m i n w o m e n ' s career d e v e l o p m e n t " (p. 168). In therapy I connected w i t h the shame I h a d around b e i n g female , h a v i n g feelings 20 a n d a b o d y , amongst m e n w h o have been assigned tradi t ional ly a less e m b o d i e d m o r e detached a n d therefore m o r e " p r o f e s s i o n a l " posit ion. N o t o n l y d i d I have b l o c k s to h a v i n g a vo ice as a w o m a n i n a misogynist culture, but 1 also felt m y core shame around speaking the unspeakable, s tanding up i n a n a c a d e m i c setting a n d d iscuss ing lesbian ident i ty . 7 I h a d been w o r k i n g w i t h the G a y and L e s b i a n Educators o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a d o i n g workshops w i t h teachers a n d c o m m u n i t y groups but this was a lways done w i t h the support o f others a n d d i d not seem to b r i n g forth the fear that I h a d around presenting at a n academic conference. L u c k i l y another w o m a n had j o i n e d the session I was assigned to speak i n , but I was s t i l l unable to accept the opportunity. M y final b l o c k seemed to be m y need to prepare m y brothers a n d sisters, m a n y o f w h o m l i v e d i n O n t a r i o , for this sister w h o was speaking i n p u b l i c about her lesbian-ness. Af ter 1 h a d wri t ten a l l s ix o f them about m y plans and gotten some supportive comments f r o m some o f them, I f i n a l l y felt able to take what seemed l i k e this enormous step o f f l y i n g to T o r o n t o and presenting m y paper. A l t h o u g h I a m doubly oppressed as a lesbian a n d a w o m a n , I ' m aware that m y class, m y whiteness and m y educational b a c k g r o u n d place me i n a corhparatively p r i v i l e g e d pos i t ion to m a n y other people. I have been struggling for some t ime w i t h the " g h e t t o i z e d " nurs ing profession a n d its re lat ionship to the m e d i c a l hierarchy ( V a l e n t i n e , 1996) 8 . W h e n I w o r k i n the role o f counselor/therapist or psychiatr ic nurse, 1 b r i n g a feminist perspective, v i e w i n g the systemic oppression o f w o m e n as often a cause and certainly the context o f their circumstances/unhappiness. I ' m aware that not a l l l esb ian h e l p i n g professionals have a feminist out look and that m a n y nurses see the m e d i c a l m o d e l i n a different l ight. Issues such as these I attempted to deal w i t h a n d m o n i t o r i n m y j o u r n a l , a practice w h i c h is often part o f a qualitat ive research procedure. T h e opportunity to do research and to disseminate 7 I w i s h to thank M i r i a m M a t t i l a , rebirther, p r i m a l therapist a n d inner c h i l d counselor extraordinaire for her w o r k w i t h me on these debi l i tat ing issues. 8 V a l e n t i n e (1996), states i n a d iscuss ion o f nurs ing a n d its re lat ionship to the female or w o m a n ' s sphere that " female w o r k ghettos are generally characterized by female d o m i n a t i o n , l o w wages, poor w o r k i n g condi t ions and l i m i t e d opportunit ies for advancement", (p.99). 21 information, to add in some small way to the knowledge on this marginalized population, is exciting and rewarding for me. Canada is a country whose institutions with their patriarchal structures and relations of ruling like to be considered "tolerant" and "liberal", so I have been able to study this subject in a very traditional university. One of the drawbacks though is that there is only the rare course which includes content on lesbians at the University of British Columbia. Research Questions As I pull on the thread of a lesbian life, the thread that is gender starts to unravel also. The childhood of a girl, female gender socialization, often includes the roles of sister, daughter and mother with duties and behaviours mapped out under patriarchal family and institutional structures. Career choices are much affected by gender as the dominance of women in helping professional careers reveals. As 1 considered the lives of lesbian helping professionals my research questions were as follows: Lesbian Identity • How do these women define their identity/sexual orientation? • When and how did they become cognizant of this (coming out to self)? • What was that process/experience like for them? • How has this affected personal areas of their life such as family, and friendships (coming out to others)? • How does their coming out process affect their careers and how do their careers affect their coming out? Heterosexism • What are their experiences with heterosexism, especially in the work environment? • If they have remained in the closet at some work sites, what was that experience like? • How do they view lesbian and gay activism? • What social action is needed to assist them and other lesbian helping professionals? Gender Socialization and Career • How did these women come to be involved in the helping professions? 22 • W h a t do they l i k e and d i s l i k e about their h e l p i n g roles? • W h a t has their career journey (educat ion, j o b satisfaction) been l i k e for them? • D o the participants feel that b e i n g female had a bear ing o n their decis ions to b e c o m e h e l p i n g professionals? • H o w d i d they precieve the sexual d i v i s i o n o f labour as they were g r o w i n g up? • W h a t career choices were open to them? • H o w d i d the heterosexual s o c i a l i z a t i o n o f w o m e n impact their careers? S igni f icance o f this Study T h e process o f d e f i n i n g one's sexuality has been done by m a n y lesbians i n what appears to be a k n o w l e d g e v a c u u m . O u t o f t h i n a ir and sometimes alone, a lesbian m a y have h a d to deconstruct the heterosexist knowledge o f hersel f as she confronts her desires a n d then reconstructs hersel f and her l i fe . A lesbian is an idea l research subject for the constructivist n o t i o n o f knowledge a n d learning. H i l l (1995) discusses this transformation o f identity and h o w gay and lesbian a n d other "unfree society learners are s o c i a l i z e d across the l i fe span to systemical ly misunderstand their identity, needs, re lat ionships, a n d values. . . . people ' u n l e a r n ' major ideas a n d feelings . . . H e r o i c features o f this ' u n l e a r n i n g ' i n c l u d e confront ing st igmatizat ion, d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , a n d self-hatred" (p. 148). R e s e a r c h o n lesbians c a n give n e w insights into sexism less cluttered by heterosexist values, a n d possibly suggest alternative ways o f d e a l i n g w i t h the problems o f h u m a n beings i n m a n y areas. B y us ing l i f e history interviews a n d a focus group, this study faci l i tated a n d documented some o f these untold experiences. B y ident i fy ing themes i n these s i x l ives , the processes around d i s c o v e r i n g a n d l i v i n g a lesbian identity are h igh l ighted as w e l l as the impact o n careers i n a professional h e l p i n g capacity. B e i n g p laced i n a professional pos i t ion to w o r k c lose ly w i t h other h u m a n beings can m a k e c o m i n g out a r i sky process that m a n y d o not venture into as Khayatt (1992) explores i n her b o o k L e s b i a n Teachers: A n Invis ib le Presence. L i k e Khayatt , w h o h a d been a teacher and then chose to study lesbian teachers, m y awareness as an insider was that there were u n t o l d stories here, i n c l u d i n g b o t h u n e x p l o r e d problems a n d strategies for s o l v i n g problems, w h i c h can be i l l u m i n a t e d a n d shared. M y l i fe herstory, a n d those o f other lesbian w o m e n , have been l i v e d inside this 23 dominant androcentric , heterocentric cul tural ideology. W e have w a l k e d a f ine l ine between l i v i n g our l ives as w e w i s h a n d s u r v i v i n g i n a society that either hates us or denies our existence. Interviews b r i n g forth stories o f h o w a m a r g i n a l i z e d , s t igmatized identity and/or leading a h i d d e n or double l i fe c a n affect health, e c o n o m i c s u r v i v a l a n d relat ionships w i t h f a m i l y , partners and co-workers. Resistance a n d survival are also themes as strategies are e x a m i n e d for l i v i n g l ives w i t h i n a n d yet, s o m e h o w outside patr iarchal structures. S o c i a l a c t i v i s m o n a day-to-day basis unfolds as each interviewee talks o f her everyday professional and personal interactions w i t h others. W o m e n ' s studies a n d i n part icular lesbian studies c a n be i n f o r m e d by this research. A n y s o c i a l science d i s c i p l i n e that professes to study h u m a n l i fe c o u l d also be i n f o r m e d by research into lesbian l ives . T h e h e l p i n g professions, i n c l u d i n g the f i e l d o f educat ion, are charged w i t h serving everyone equally. T h i s seems imposs ib le w i t h l i tt le documentat ion o n a segment o f the populat ion. A d u l t educators c o u l d become m o r e responsive a n d i n c l u s i v e as they design a n d administer programs for adults, some o f w h o m w i l l undoubtably be lesbian. H i g h e r educat ion programs w i t h a focus o n t ra in ing professionals , can gain knowledge for future c u r r i c u l a by l i s tening to what lesbian h e l p i n g professionals have to say about their educat ion and w o r k i n g l ives. Research focus ing o n lesbian experiences gives a message to participants that they not only exist but are b e i n g given a space i n w h i c h to tel l their stories, a n d that their o p i n i o n s are valued. T h e y c a n g a i n increased self-understanding a n d receive sortie o f the benefits o f catalytic v a l i d i t y " i n w h i c h the research process re-orients, focuses and energizes participants toward k n o w i n g real i ty i n order to transform i t " (Lather 1991, p.68). Lather talks o f " a n emancipatory research where both researcher a n d researched b e c o m e i n the words o f feminist singer-poet, C r i s W i l l i a m s o n , 'the changer a n d the changed' " (p.56). T h e goal o f emancipatory research, a c c o r d i n g to Lather , is "to encourage self-reflection and deeper understanding i n the part o f the researched at least as m u c h as it is to generate e m p i r i c a l l y grounded theoretical k n o w l e d g e " (p. 60). A s the lesbian h e l p i n g professionals i n this study focus o n our l ives i n the heterosexist a n d sexist institutions o f f a m i l y , educat ion, and w o r k , w e are " h e l p i n g " each other to c lar i fy our past, e x p l a i n the present and 24 m o v e o n to the future better prepared for the next struggle. L a t h e r also suggests that " o p e n l y i d e o l o g i c a l , advocacy-based research has arisen as a n e w contender for l e g i t a m a c y " (p.52). In this study I lay out the ideologies i n f l u e n c i n g m y pos i t ion as researcher, and t e l l m y personal a n d professional story as it relates to this subject. I also a m attempting to shift the misconcept ions surrounding lesbians. R e a d i n g this thesis m a y e m p o w e r other lesbian nurses, teachers, soc ia l workers and counsel lors a n d inf luence others i n d i v i d u a l s to b e c o m e al l ies i n the f ight against oppressions. M a p o f the Thesis ' « In the next chapter I explore l iterature relevant to this i n q u i r y i n c l u d i n g lesbian identity, heterosexism/homophobia, gender soc ia l i za t ion , career and the female d o m i n a t e d professions. D u e to the e v o l v i n g research process, 1 added m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n o n r a c i s m , d e l v e d into the vocat ional psychology literature, a n d found a de l ight fu l b o o k that focuses o n ethics/boundaries. Chapter three discusses the l i fe history and focus group qual i tat ive methods that e v o l v e d a n d describes the data c o l l e c t i o n processes. C h a p t e r four a n d chapter f ive , present a n d discuss the key themes selected f r o m the data. Chapter s i x contains a s u m m a r y focused o n n e w developments that emerged f r o m the research, a d iscuss ion o f i m p l i c a t i o n s for the educat ion o f h e l p i n g professionals , suggestions for future research and a f i n a l w o r d f r o m each o f the graces. 25 Chapter T w o : Literature R e v i e w T h i s chapter outl ines the literature w h i c h provides the theoret ical a n d conceptual f ramework for this study. F i v e areas were selected and provide the context for t h i n k i n g about this work: lesbian identity, heterosexism/homophobia, gender s o c i a l i z a t i o n a n d female dominated professions, r a c i s m , and ethics/boundaries. L e s b i a n Identity " C o m i n g out" refers to a process required for lesbians and gays i n a culture that dictates, pol ices a n d forces people into c o m p u l s o r y heterosexual ways o f relating. A l l o w i n g into consciousness the rea l izat ion that y o u are attracted to another person o f the same sex ( c o m i n g out to yourself) , a n d then the cont inua l , l i f e - long process o f d e c i d i n g to c o m e out (or not) to others, are both necessary i n a culture that renders any f o r m o f sexual expression other than heterosexual as inferior , s ick or i n v i s i b l e . Sedge w i c k (1990) points out that "there are remarkably few o f even the most openly gay people w h o are not del iberately i n the closet w i t h someone personal ly or e c o n o m i c a l l y or inst i tut ional ly important to them"( p. 68). These c o m i n g out processes can take their t o l l o n an i n d i v i d u a l a n d can be l i fe threatening as i n the case o f suicides or murderous lesbian a n d gay bashings. Other oppressions and d i s c r i m i n a t i o n s , such as laws that benefit heterosexual relat ionships and render gay a n d lesbian ones i l legi t imate a n d i n v i s i b l e ; the l a b e l l i n g o f lesbian mothers as unfit and d e n y i n g them custody o f their c h i l d r e n , not to m e n t i o n j o b loss; denial o f rental accommodat ions a n d d e n i a l o f access to some m e d i c a l procedures (ie. a r t i f i c i a l inseminat ion) ; can a l l easily be understood as p a i n f u l as w e l l as h a v i n g profound mater ia l consequences. P e r s o n a l rejection at the l e v e l o f f a m i l y a n d friends c a n also be devastating. S e d g e w i c k (1990) discusses the double b inds i n j u d i c i a l systems that systemical ly oppress lesbians a n d gays " u n d e r m i n i n g through contradictory constraints o n discourse the grounds o f their very b e i n g " (p. 70). T h e epis temologica l underpinnings o f the heteropatriarchal e c o n o m i c a n d soc ia l structures rests o n a system o f binaries. T h i s dual is t ic b e l i e f system contains such false d ichotomies as superior/inferior, male/female, culture/nature, mind/body, public/private, heterosexual/homosexual , good/bad a n d numerous others that S e d g e w i c k points out (p. 72). H o m o s e x u a l i t y seems to threaten these 26 binaries i n c r u c i a l ways. Just as patr iarchal paradigms have been threatened b y feminists w h o advocate against the sex-segregation o f w o r k w i t h its u n p a i d or l o w p a i d labour o f w o m e n , the heteropatriarchy is threatened by the very existence o f a p o p u l a t i o n o f gays a n d lesbians w h o are l i v i n g openly together, confus ing the male/female b inary b y h a v i n g sex w i t h the same sex a n d not c o n f o r m i n g to the stereotypical roles a n d ways o f behaving. D u e to the extensive inst i tut ional izat ion o f h o m o p h o b i a a n d heterosexism i n N o r t h A m e r i c a n culture and b e l i e f systems, personal c o m i n g out can also be f u l l o f p e r p l e x i n g contradictory a n d unpredictable consequences. T h u s a f r iend c a n feel their o w n sexual i ty is threatened by d i s c o v e r i n g another's queer identity. Fr iends may question a lesbian 's knowledge o f herse l f a n d she may be accused o f g o i n g through a phase. Re lat ives or friends m a y have gui l t feel ings about negative stereotypic comments that they have expressed previously. A f r i e n d may c o m e out i n response to another's disc losure a n d this c a n generate the poss ib i l i ty o f attraction w h i c h was not seen previously . Parents a n d friends may not see a disclosure as the chance to have a c loser more l o v i n g connect ion, but m a y see it as hurtful a n d u n l o v i n g . R e j e c t i o n due to re l ig ious bel iefs o f f a m i l y and friends, w h o have previous ly c l a i m e d to love y o u , c a n be heart-breaking. These are o n l y a f e w reactions amongst m a n y others that render the c o m i n g out process s i m i l a r to w a l k i n g a m i n e f ie ld . H o w d o lesbians experience their o w n c o m i n g out process? H o w d o they v i e w their lesbian-ness and their relationships? " G e n d e r is a powerfu l organizer o f sexual behaviour , identity, and re lat ionship patterns. In general , gay m e n are more s i m i l a r to heterosexual m e n , and lesbian w o m e n m o r e s i m i l a r to heterosexual w o m e n , than to each other" (Garnets & K i m m e l , 1993, p. 25). N o t surpris ingly lesbians, l i k e their heterosexual counterparts, often have a re lat ional out look to their sexuality. In contrast to the predominant ly sexual experiences that gay m e n have as they m o v e towards a h o m o s e x u a l identity, " lesbians tend to experience sexual feelings i n situations o f romant ic love and e m o t i o n a l attachment" (p. 27). T h e tradit ional heterosexual s o c i a l i z a t i o n o f gir ls often promotes restraint o n sexual i ty except i n c o m m i t t e d relat ionships such as marriage (p. 26). A focus o n emot ional connect ion i n relat ionships is consistent w i t h theories w h i c h h ighl ight w o m e n as operating f r o m an ethic o f care and w i t h connected ways o f re lat ing and construct ing knowledge 27 ( G i l l i g a n , 1982; B e l e n k e y , C l i n c h y , Goldberger , & T a r u l e , 1986). " A lesbian identity is a w o m a n ' s subjective experience or intra subjective account o f her o w n l e s b i a n i s m " ( K i t z i n g e r , 1987, p. 90). H i s t o r i c a l l y , soc ia l control o f m a r g i n a l i z e d a n d oppressed groups has taken the f o r m o f r e l i g i o n a n d then psychiatry/psychology. K i t z i n g e r argues that " i n construct ing lesb ianism as pathology scientists have taken the place o f priests i n c o n d e m n i n g a n d root ing out s o c i a l l y unacceptable behaviour"(p. 40). T h e construction o f any identity is done w i t h i n a soc ia l a n d his tor ica l context. A n account o f any i n d i v i d u a l ' s l e s b i a n identity f o r m a t i o n m a y change over t ime a n d be rendered differently, cons ider ing w h o it is t o l d to, under what c ircumstances and other contextual factors. In analys ing interviews a n d questionnaires w i t h s ixty lesbians us ing a Q-sort m e t h o d o l o g y 9 , K i t z i n g e r f o u n d f ive factors i n v o l v e d i n these stories o f lesbian identity. O n e factor accounts for l e s b i a n i s m i n the more tradit ional l ight o f a personal inadequacy thus t a k i n g i n the re l ig ious objections and/or sc ient i f ic pathologiz ing. She found three other factors that are variat ions o n a l ibera l humanist pos i t ion. O n e set o f these subjective accounts he lped to " incorporate lesb ianism into the dominant o r d e r " by seeing i t as " a source o f personal f u l f i l m e n t " . A n o t h e r set o f accounts, b y d e f i n i n g their experience as 'true l o v e ' again feed into a l iberal ist humanist pos i t ion. A fourth set o f subjective explanations v i e w e d their sexual i ty as b e c o m i n g aware o f their "sexual or ientat ion" w h i c h once again, is an i n d i v i d u a l i s t pos i t ion (p. 116 ). There is evidence i n her sample o f a fifth factor, an account o f l e s b i a n i s m that she labels a radica l feminist factor. In this v i e w , the w o m a n sees her lesb ianism as d e v e l o p i n g i n a p o l i t i c a l way, as a chal lenge to heterosexuality a n d the patr iarchal def init ions o f w o m e n (p. 115). K i t z i n g e r is cr i t i ca l o f the l ibera l humanist ideology interwoven i n lesbians ' constructions o f their identity. She perceives the outcome b e i n g one i n w h i c h "attention is distracted away f r o m the central (po l i t i ca l ) a ims o f radica l f e m i n i s m towards i n d i v i d u a l ' " A Q sort is s i m p l y a c o l l e c t i o n o f i tems w h i c h the person is asked to sort a l o n g a c o n t i n u u m f r o m , for example "Very L i k e M e ' to ' V e r y U n l i k e M e ' . . . . Q methodology, then, is fundamental ly a means o f e l i c i t i n g subject ivi t ies" ( K i t z i n g e r , 1987, p.77-78). 28 (private) solutions i n terms o f personal happiness, se l f - ful f i lment and true love , thus support ing the p r i v a t i z e d ideologies o f the dominant c u l t u r e " (p. 123). M a i n t a i n i n g the public/private d i c h o t o m y , as discussed previous ly a l l o w s m e n to rule the p u b l i c d o m a i n thereby relegating w o m e n to the ghettoised private. T h u s K i t z i n g e r feels that lesbians w o u l d be m a k i n g a statement to advance the destruction o f heterosexist l ibera l agendas by e m p h a s i z i n g the ways their story challenges heterosexism instead o f t e l l i n g romantic/l iberal ist humanis t i c stories. A s 1 l o o k at m y o w n account o f m y lesbian-ness, I c a n see evidence o f a l l o f K i t z i n g e r ' s five factors. I became quite distressed and i l l d u r i n g and after m y i n i t i a l self- discovery. 1 saw doctors a n d other health professionals about m y symptoms, a n d so, even •though I d i d not discuss m y sexuality, 1 saw m y distress about it as something that needed m e d i c a l treatment; therefore i n some w a y as patholog ica l or a n inadequacy. 1 see evidence o f m y v i e w i n g m y first sexual desires as a " l o v e story" w i t h a j i l t e d husband i n v o l v e d . M y sexual orientat ion became a private i n d i v i d u a l quest for fu l f i lment as 1 m o v e d to a larger urban area. Thus these parts o f m y story a l l fit w i t h K i t z i n g e r ' s first four Q-sort factors. T h e fifth factor i n v o l v e d a lesbian's subjective account that i n c l u d e d evidence o f cha l lenging the heteronormative patriarchal constructions o f w o m e n . T h i s can also be seen i n m y story as I b e c o m e aware early that I never wanted to marry (or have seven chi ldren) as m y mother had. F r o m an early age I. h a d an intuit ive k n o w i n g that I wanted something different for myself . I a v o i d e d the heterosexual dat ing programing o f m y pastor, escaping to the comfort o f s itt ing beside m y g i r l f r iend i n the choir . D a t i n g was b o r i n g and tense for me, never comfortable i n that unequal a n d c o n f i n i n g role o f someone's g i r l f r i e n d w h o sat passively by w h i l e he drove the car. These parts o f m y story are a rejection o f the dominant heterosexual constructions o f male a n d female roles a n d o f the c o n f i n i n g inst i tut ion o f marriage w i t h its t radit ional seemingly endless w i f e and mother duties. K i t z i n g e r approaches her analysis as a s o c i a l constructivist w h i c h "does not assert any unitary doctrine or ' theory ' about people or love , or sexual i ty" but sees mental/psychological processes as "generated f r o m situated a n d constitutive s o c i a l pract ices" (p. 188). Lesbians account for their o w n experiences a n d their identity f o r m a t i o n 29 inside the ideologies that surround them. K i t z i n g e r sees e x a m i n i n g social practices as necessary a n d deconstruct ing l ibera l humanist ideologies as the g o a l for those interested i n a l lev ia t ing oppressions (p. 198). Just f o l l o w i n g through on a d e c i s i o n to d o research o n lesbians has generated some destabl iz ing energy i n m y smal l corner o f the w o r l d . A s I discuss m y interest i n d o i n g research i n the academy i n this area, suddenly I ' m turning the conversat ion towards what has been considered a private matter, not usual ly discussed i n a p u b l i c or academic way. People become uncomfortable a n d I feel s o m e h o w vulnerable as m y personal , sexual practices are at least wondered about. T h i s is not the tradit ional v i e w o f the detached, even d i s e m b o d i e d professibnal/researcher/academic. F o r a b r i e f moment , both sides o f a public/private spl i t , researcher/sexual person, and other dual i sms c o m e into d is turbing co- existence. M y experience is that o f a white , m i d d l e class lesbian so o n reading the literature o n lesbian identity m y experience seemed to be reflected, but it is noteworthy that there is • m i n i m a l d iscuss ion o n race a n d class issues for/with lesbians. T h e lesbian c o m m u n i t y is very diverse w i t h w o m e n f r o m a l l races a n d classes but this is not usual ly e x p l i c i t l y focused o n i n the academic research/literature. H e t e r o s e x i s m / H o m o p h o b i a H e t e r o s e x i s m a n d h o m o p h o b i a are terms used sometimes interchangeably to describe the oppressive structures that lesbians a n d gay m e n face dai ly . Pharr (1988) • defines h o m o p h o b i a as "the irrat ional fear a n d hatred o f those w h o love a n d sexual ly desire those o f the same sex" (p. 1). N e i s e n (1990) feels that the o lder term h o m o p h o b i a , w h i c h "has become a catchal l w o r d for any type o f negative attitude o r a c t i o n d irected toward homosexuals" is inaccurate (p.21). T h e p h o b i a suff ix is a m i s n o m e r as it is more a prejudice than a phobic react ion a n d the pref ix doesn't express the patr iarchal structures that are under ly ing this attitude (p.23). H e comments "the major determinant o f negative attitudes toward homosexual i ty was to a v o i d sex role c o n f u s i o n by m a i n t a i n i n g tradit ional ly def ined male/female stereotypes" ( p.23). These tradit ional stereotypes are based on m a l e superiority a n d contribute to women's oppression. 30 T h e concept o f internal ized h o m o p h o b i a tries to capture the di f f icul t ies lesbians and gays experience as they struggle w i t h their o w n feelings as a result o f indoctr inat ion w i t h the dominant heterosexist value system. N e i s e n feels it is confus ing to leave us w i t h t w o types o f h o m o p h o b i a , internal and external , so w e then need to c lar i fy w h i c h h o m o p h o b i a w e are d iscuss ing ( p. 21). A r e w e t a l k i n g about the h o m o p h o b i a that is external i n the structures a n d v iews o f people around us or are w e t a l k i n g about our o w n internal shame and self-hatred? H e advocates using the term heterosexism, i n order to reveal a n d name inst i tut ional a n d i n d i v i d u a l acts o f oppression. In addi t ion to this , the attitude o f superiority o f one sexual orientat ion over another is revealed i n the hetero pref ix (p. 25). T h e uncomfortable feelings ar is ing f r o m heterosexist slurs a n d the result ing self-contempt that c a n lead to suic ide, N e i s e n w o u l d suggest l a b e l l i n g as shame due to heterosexism (p. 24). There is a s imi lar i ty o f these feelings to other emot ional ly abusive situations w i t h shame b e i n g the c o m m o n factor. N e i s e n sees the cu l tura l v i c t i m i z a t i o n that lesbians a n d gays suffer f r o m as poss ib ly f o l l o w i n g a s i m i l a r recovery process to those w h o suffer f r o m sexual , phys ica l a n d e m o t i o n a l abuse (p. 31). H e states "v ic t ims need to speak up, break the s i lence, or name the abuse. Perpetrator responsibi l i ty must be established. Personal p o w e r must be restored" ( p.31). It seems he lpfu l to l o o k at a n d name this shaming process so that its v i c t i m s a n d helpers can m o v e o n to use recovery pr inc ipa ls to assist the h e a l i n g work . I try to use the term heterosexism for the p o l i t i c a l reasons N e i s e n describes, but the term h o m o p h o b i a or its derivat ive h o m o p h o b e are st i l l used frequently a n d are i n the literature a n d n o w k n o w n to the general p u b l i c . N e i t h e r heterosexism or h o m o p h o b i a properly labels the hatred that culminates i n the murders o f gay m e n and occas ional ly lesbians. T h e act ivit ies o f the K u K l u x K l a n are inadaquately c o v e r e d by the term rac ism. W i f e battering or domest ic v io lence or c r i m e o f passion c o m e under the labe l sexism. Hate cr imes seems a better descriptor for these act ivi t ies that s e x i s m , r a c i s m a n d heterosexism can result i n , but this depol i t izes and i n d i v i d u a l i z e s what is real ly behaviour e p i t o m i z i n g the far e n d o f a n inst i tut ional ized patr iarchal b e l i e f system. S l ight ly different terminology is offered by Pheterson (1986) i n a report o f a study 31 done by D u t c h w o m e n , ident i fy ing s i m i l a r internal and external processes surrounding oppressions. T h i s study was a n o n g o i n g feminist a l l iance project that ran three para l le l groups w i t h seven w o m e n f r o m an oppressed populat ion and f ive w o m e n f r o m a d o m i n a n t populat ion i n each group "to nurture personal change, p o l i t i c a l strength, a n d theoret ical understanding o f d i v i s i o n s between w o m e n " (p. 146). O n e o f the groups focused on e x p l o r i n g a l l iance between lesbians a n d heterosexuals, another i n c l u d e d J e w i s h a n d non- J e w i s h w o m e n , a n d the t h i r d group consisted o f b l a c k a n d white w o m e n w o r k i n g together. T h i s strategy o f s tudying a phenomena at the same t ime as t ransforming it seems quite wonderfu l a n d i n this case benefited 100 or m o r e w o m e n over a two year p e r i o d (p. 151).. In w o r k i n g to transform heterosexism, r a c i s m a n d a n t i - S e m i t i s m , Pheterson f o u n d the t e r m " internal ized oppression" helpful (p. 148). T h i s accounted for forces "perpetuating d o m i n a t i o n not o n l y b y external c o n t r o l but also by b u i l d i n g subservience into the m i n d s o f • the oppressed group" (p. 148). She identif ies "self-hatred, sel f-concealment, fear o f v io lence a n d feelings o f inferiori ty , resignation, i so lat ion, powerlessness a n d gratefulness for b e i n g a l l o w e d to survive" as the results o f internal ized oppression (p. 148). Thus internal ized oppression includes the feelings associated w i t h the concept o f shame due to heterosexism as discussed by N e i s e n (1990). Pheterson (1986) also attempts to s imultaneously transform " internal ized dominat ion"(p . 148). She defines this concept as the "feelings o f superiority, n o r m a l c y , and self-righteousness, together w i t h guilt , fear, project ion, denia l o f reality, a n d a l ienat ion f r o m one's body and f r o m nature" (p. 148). These t w o concepts account for the d y n a m i c s ins ide a l l o f us i n situations where w e are the oppressed a n d where w e are the oppressor. It acknowledges the c o m p l e x i t y o f o u r various posit ions and behaviours i n a diverse a n d stratified society. I n this p a r a d i g m what does the recovery process for a l l inc lude? Pheterson discusses the concept o f v i s i b i l i t y , "being onesel f f u l l y , openly , undefensively, a n d expressively" (p. 148). She also inc ludes the concept o f pride def ined as "self-acceptance a n d self-respect, i n part icular , respect for one's identity, one's heritage, and one's r ight to sel f-determination" w i t h " indignat ion against the abuse o f any h u m a n being, i n c l u d i n g onese l f ' (p. 148). Pheterson discussed the development o f ties to others i n the oppressed group, or sol idarity , 32 w h i c h means "knowledge of, respect for, and unity w i t h persons whose identities are i n certain essential ways c o m m o n w i t h one's o w n " (p. 149). D e v e l o p i n g a l l iance or "knowledge of, respect for a n d c o m m i t m e n t between persons w h o are i n essential ways different but whose interests are i n essential ways a k i n " , is the ult imate goal i n the groups , w o r k i n g to overcome these patterns (p. 149): H a v i n g heterosexual w o m e n and lesbians w o r k through their internal ized d o m i n a t i o n a n d internal ized oppress ion to "become partners i n a l l iance against oppression" was one o f the goals achieved. G r o u p members i n both the oppressed a n d dominator posit ions reported increased a c t i v i s m around issues o f oppress ion i n society after attending these groups (p. 158). T h e concepts o f heterosexism a n d shame due to heterosexism o r internal ized oppression a n d d o m i n a t i o n seem important i n sorting out the issues lesbians have as they attempt to l i v e a n d w o r k under the crushing oppressions o f a heteropatriarchal culture. S o m e lesbian feminists are m o r e l i k e l y to stress a s o c i o - p o l i t i c a l so lut ion over a p s y c h o l o g i c a l one. T h e y see the p r o b l e m as ar is ing out o f inst i tut ional ized s o c i a l structures. Suzanne Pharr (1988) states "patr iarchy~an enforced b e l i e f i n m a l e d o m i n a t i o n a n d contro l - - is the ideology a n d s e x i s m the system that holds it i n p l a c e . . . . H o w are gender roles maintained? B y the weapons o f sex ism: e c o n o m i c s , v io lence , h o m o p h o b i a " (p. 8). T h e relat ionship o f patr iarchy a n d c a p i t a l i s m is the subject o f m u c h debate but it is important to note that late twentieth century capi ta l i sm also plays a s ignif icant role i n the l ives o f w o m e n . W i l t o n (1995) describes the phenomena o f l i n k e d sexism/heterosexism w h e n she states: 1 f o l l o w the practice o f referring to 'heteropatriarchy' rather than s i m p l y 'patr iarchy ' i n order to foreground the co-dependency o f s e x i s m a n d heterosexism i n the maintenance o f m a l e supremacy. T h e subordinat ion o f w o m e n within/by the regime o f gender is inseparable f r o m the oppress ion a n d abj e d i f i c a t i o n o f lesbians a n d gay men. (p .x i ) . 1 agree w i t h W i l t o n about the oppress ion b y a n el ite heteropatriarchy, but as a lesbian w a t c h i n g the relations o f r u l i n g at an everyday l e v e l , 1 have also felt a n d seen 33 oppression related to sex ism when attempting to w o r k i n conjunct ion w i t h gay men. T h e pervasiveness o f s e x i s m a n d heterosexism a n d other oppressions s u c h as r a c i s m a n d a b e l i s m , is ingrained i n our institutional/cultural structures and these complex i t ies shift w i t h each o f our i n d i v i d u a l a n d group relationships/locations to the systems o f pr iv i lege a n d dominance . Pharr (1988) states " a lesbian is perce ived as a threat to the nuclear f a m i l y , to male d o m i n a n c e a n d c o n t r o l , to the very heart o f s e x i s m " (p. 18). In order to understand w h y lesbians are seen as such a threat, Pharr points to the e c o n o m i c basis o f society w i t h the p y r a m i d o f very f e w wealthy at the peak a n d "the 90 percent o n the bottom. . . . s u p p l y i n g the cheap labour"(p. 11). T h i s leads to a "fervent effort to keep those oppressive systems (rac ism and sex ism and a l l the ways they are manifested) i n place to m a i n t a i n the u n p a i d a n d l o w - p a i d l a b o u r " (p. 11). W a r i n g (1988) a N e w Z e a l a n d p o l i t i c i a n a n d economist , also discusses the patriarchal nature o f e c o n o m i c s that she observed w h e n invest igating the e c o n o m i c f r a m e w o r k used by the U n i t e d N a t i o n s . She witnessed this as a g l o b a l l y united force i n v o l v i n g a l l the heads o f state i n c l u d i n g the V a t i c a n (p.4). " T o be a lesbian is to be perce ived as someone w h o has stepped out o f l ine , w h o has m o v e d out o f sexual/economic dependence on a male , w h o is w o m e n ident i f ied"( Pharr , 1988, p. 18). A w o m a n w h o is not serv ic ing m e n privately or domest ica l ly , unthinkable i n this androcentr ical ly constructed w o r l d , must then hate men. T h e love/hate binary seems to be the log ic/ i l log ic b e h i n d this belief. A n y w o m a n w h o steps out o f l ine i n a m y r i a d o f ways can then be labe led the despised category o f lesbian, an outcast, an unspeakable entity. Pharr explains: L e s b i a n ba i t ing is a n attempt to c o n t r o l w o m e n by l a b e l i n g us l e s b i a n because our behaviour is not acceptable, that is , w h e n w e are independent,' g o i n g our o w n way, l i v i n g w h o l e l ives , f ight ing for our rights, d e m a n d i n g equal pay, saying no to v io lence , b e i n g s e l f assertive, b o n d i n g w i t h and l o v i n g the c o m p a n y o f w o m e n , assuring the right to our bodies, ins ist ing o n our o w n authority, m a k i n g changes that inc lude us i n society 's d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g ; lesbian b a i t i n g occurs w h e n w o m e n are c a l l e d lesbians because w e resist male d o m i n a n c e and control . A n d it has l i tt le or 34 nothing to do w i t h one 's sexual identity (p. 19). O n e o f the m o r e unpleasant accusations made towards a lesbian is that o f b e i n g a man-hater. T h i s term seems to be t a k i n g lesbians f r o m a gynocentric pos i t ion o f l o v i n g w o m e n to a d ichotomous , androcentric one. W o m e n c a n not seem to be def ined i n a culture that is b u i l t o n phal locentr ic structures, except i n relat ion to men. D o e s anyone assume o n meet ing a heterosexual m a n that he is a "man-hater" because he has w o m e n as sexual partners? A s s u m i n g that a heterosexual m a n is a lover o f w o m e n because he has sex w i t h t h e m c a n also be grossly inaccurate as the g r o w i n g statistics o n v i o l e n c e show. These document the t ip o f the iceberg o f the reported c r i m i n a l acts such as batterings, rapes, a n d murders o f gir ls a n d w o m e n (Samuelson, 1994). 1, o n the other hand, a l o n g w i t h most other lesbians and the major i ty o f other w o m a n , have never battered, raped, or murdered even one m a n . W h a t I have had, as a h e l p i n g profess ional , is m a n y m e n over the years expressing their deep appreciat ion at h o w understanding, k i n d and effective I h a d been i n assisting t h e m w i t h di f f icul t , at t imes l i fe-threatening problems. Thus I a m s e r v i c i n g m e n , as w e l l as w o m e n a n d c h i l d r e n , i n m y professional p u b l i c w o r k w h i c h depending o n the nature o f the p r o b l e m c a n entai l c a r i n g for a n d about m e n i n p h y s i c a l a n d p s y c h o l o g i c a l ways. It is noteworthy that early i n the A I D S e p i d e m i c w h e n there was l i t t le p u b l i c assistance m o b i l i z e d , m a n y lesbians assisted a n d cared for gay m e n suffering f r o m this disease. It is curious indeed that lesbians l i k e these, or l i k e m y s e l f w h o are i n car ing professions, are labe led man-haters a n d heterosexual m e n (especial ly husbands) are considered the protectors o f w o m e n yet there are m a n y w h o are the perpetrators o f v i o l e n c e against w o m e n . These mythology/bel ie f systems are based o n a reversal o f real i ty i n order to support the patriarchal hegemony. Feminis ts , b o t h heterosexual a n d lesbian, are often angry about "the injustices w o m e n face i n the w o r k p l a c e , angry about the v i o l e n c e perpetrated against w o m e n , angry about persecution o f gays a n d lesbians, a n d angry about the persistent denigrat ion o f w o m e n i n popular cu l ture"(Andersen, 1997, p. 9). S p e a k i n g up about the preference a n d pr iv i lege g i v e n to m e n a n d expressing anger about s o c i a l injustices is also often l a b e l l e d as "angry, man-hat ing lesbian b e h a v i o u r " i n an effort to inval idate this perspective and m a i n t a i n the 35 status quo. W e can see h o w a l l w o m e n are kept i n l ine w i t h the threat o f b e i n g c a l l e d lesbian. Heterosexual feminists have conf ided to me that they have exper ienced this phenomena. A l l w o m e n then are c o n t r o l l e d by the horror o f the lesbian labe l i n m u c h the same w a y that w e are kept i n l i n e by the threat o f rape. Fear is what keeps w o m e n f r o m g o i n g anywhere alone at night a n d keeps lesbians f r o m c o m i n g out. V i o l e n c e or the threat o f v io lence , heterosexism, sex ism and rac ism help keep w o m e n , lesbians and gay m e n , and rac ia l minorit ies/majorit ies i n fear for their safety a n d /or begging for scraps at the table o f the el ite, white , heteropatriarchal e c o n o m i c system (Pharr, 1988). H o w do lesbians cope w i t h this pervasive heterosexism? T h r o u g h interviews w i t h eight lesbians and a focus group, us ing a grounded theory approach, A b r a m (1996) documents a m o d e l o f " lesbian transformations i n dea l ing w i t h heterosexism" (p.77). A b r a m ' s study was done w i t h a sample size o f eight lesbians w h o volunteered w h e n she advertised for "lesbians w h o have reached a comfortable acceptance o f their sexual identity" (p. 154). T h e focus group and subsequent interactions p r o d u c e d col laborat ive m o d e l s i n almost a consensus-l ike process. A b r a m s (1996) uses the "grounded theory approach, i n w h i c h a theory is arr ived at induct ive ly f r o m the data on the phenomena studied" ( p.25). She goes o n to say "it values the subjective realities o f the participants, makes t h e m the p r i m e - i n fact, the o n l y source o f k n o w l e d g e " (p.25). She does conclude that "lesbians b e c o m e more effective i n dea l ing w i t h heterosexism over t ime" (p. 81). T h e overa l l m o v e m e n t is f rom fear ( H i d i n g ) , to d e c i d i n g to assert one's lesbian identity (Prepar ing to C o m e Out) , to using self-protective strategies (Protective Stance), to m a k i n g a statement to others ( A c t i v e Stance), to contr ibut ing to the idea l o f a nonheterosexist society (Proactive Stance). ( A b r a m s , 1996, p. 82) Lesbians at W o r k T h e e c o n o m i c reality o f j o b loss is one that faces m a n y lesbians. " A s n o n - heterosexual w o m e n , their l i festyle places e c o n o m i c demands upon t h e m to be self- supporting. A s w o m e n , they must negotiate a n unequal labour market that often places l i m i t s on the extent to w h i c h this can be a c h i e v e d " ( D u n n e , 1997, p. 127). Other major 36 losses can i n c l u d e f a m i l y love and acceptance and custody o f their c h i l d r e n . Institutions, for e x a m p l e the legal , educat ional a n d medical/psychiatr ic ones, are w r a c k e d w i t h heterosexism. Lesbians fear the " loss o f p u b l i c acceptance, a loss o f a l l ies , a loss o f p lace a n d belonging. . . . they fear they w i l l be no longer respected, l i s tened to, honoured, bel ieved. T h e y fear they w i l l be social outcasts" (Pharr, 1988, p. 22). M a k i n g the decis ions o n w h e n to, o r h o w to, or where to c o m e out, or whether to come out at a l l , must be w e i g h e d by the i n d i v i d u a l . B a l a n c i n g j o b security and advancement w h i l e gauging the l e v e l o f heterosexism i n their w o r k place is s t i l l a d a i l y act for many lesbians. T h e crunch comes i n m a i n t a i n i n g a sense o f sel f-worth and s u r v i v i n g e c o n o m i c a l l y . Khayatt's (1992) research for her doctora l dissertation conta ined a sample o f eighteen lesbian teachers. In her methodology section she uses D o r o t h y S m i t h ' s (1987) ideas that advocate starting f r o m women's everyday experience a n d then studying h o w these experiences interact w i t h the structures i n w h i c h they are embedded. M e n have been l i s tening to each other, researching a n d w r i t i n g about what is relevant to them, a n d w o m e n are located outside this (p.86). R e f e r r i n g to w o m e n , Khayat t states "their situations are t r i v i a l i z e d , their real i ty is either d iscredi ted or discounted, a n d their w h o l e b e i n g is objectif ied"(p. 87). A t t e m p t i n g to p lace women's experience into the "relations o f r u l i n g " m e a n i n g "that total c o m p l e x o f act ivit ies , differentiated into m a n y spheres, b y w h i c h our society is r u l e d , managed and administered" is a goal for w o m e n sociologists f r o m Smith's perspective ( S m i t h , 1990). Khayatt (1992) agrees w i t h Smith's proposal : W h a t she is p r o p o s i n g is that the knower's b i furcated consciousness, the k n o w l e d g e o f hersel f as a subjectivity located i n her body as w e l l as i n a speci f ic mater ia l a n d histor ica l moment , be extended to i n c l u d e her everyday experience i n the ordinary everyday w o r l d super imposed by a k n o w l e d g e o f the s o c i a l organizat ion (p. 92) F r o m this p o s i t i o n , Khayatt (1996) was able to locate the experiences o f the lesbian teachers she interv iewed and her o w n experiences w i t h i n the w i d e r s o c i a l organizat ion. In her case this i n c l u d e d the relations o f r u l i n g i m p a c t i n g the p r i m a r y and secondary school systems i n O n t a r i o , C a n a d a i n the eighties. She is able to question " h o w heterosexuality is 37 used by the r u l i n g apparatus to expropriate women's product ive and reproductive labour, h o w it is hegemonic , a n d . . . h o w i n d i v i d u a l s accept a n d integrate the dominant ideo logy i n their everyday l ives " (p. 94). She concludes that w o m e n l o v i n g w o m e n becomes a threat " i n the i m p l i c a t i o n s such a.life has o n normat ive , prescr ibed female l ives" (p. 243). W o m e n as independent o f m e n , as powerful a n d strong, regardless o f sexual orientat ion, disrupts the "preva i l ing ideologies , the capital ist exigencies that promote a n d encourage systemic control over, and the cont inued, i f more subtle, appropriat ion of, female labour and sexuality" (p. 242). R i s t o c k (1990) "administered open-ended questionnaires a n d conducted f o l l o w - u p interviews w i t h s ix lesbian feminist socia l service workers i n 1987" (p. 80). H e r study focuses o n i n d i v i d u a l s w o r k i n g as h e l p i n g professionals i n a variety o f agencies a n d institutions and thus portrays more than one type o f w o r k environment. H e r participants a l l volunteered their t i m e at a c o u n s e l l i n g centre for lesbians a n d gays a n d so h a d the experience o f us ing their s k i l l s i n an environment that a l l o w e d them to be put. T h i s contradicted w i t h their everyday p a i d e m p l o y m e n t situations. O n l y one o f her participants was out at her p a i d w o r k and she felt the strain o f b e i n g a token lesbian. T h e rest were i n the closet to some degree. "The h o m o p h o b i c s o c i a l services system prevai ls regardless o f the type o f socia l service agency. W e a l l need j o b security, so w e are p l a c e d i n the p o s i t i o n o f fee l ing c o m p r o m i s e d " (p. 77). R i s t o c k adds to the "themes o f contradic t ion a n d struggle" for lesbians by d iscuss ing those found i n w o r k i n g i n a lesbian a n d gay c o u n s e l l i n g centre (p. 79). T h e values a n d goals o f lesbian feminists are orientated to e n d i n g "the oppress ion o f w o m e n by c h a l l e n g i n g the male supremacy that underlies our culture" (p. 78). G a y m e n can have goals that conf l ic t w i t h this as they often "desire to have gay m e n freed f r o m their intolerable 'deviant' posit ions and accepted w i t h i n the ex is t ing (dominant) p o l i t i c a l a n d soc ia l structure" (p. 78). R i s t o c k advocates for further research i n the fol lowing-areas: A s lesbian social service providers , we must v i e w our w o r k w i t h an understanding o f the contradictory relationships that exist between our personal realit ies a n d our p u b l i c realit ies, between the personal and the p o l i t i c a l , between the heterosexual c o m m u n i t y a n d the lesbian a n d gay c o m m u n i t y , between the pol i t i cs o f gay 38 l iberat ion and the p o l i t i c s o f f e m i n i s m , a n d between the service provider and the service recipient, (p. 79) A study that came f r o m the v o c a t i o n a l p s y c h o l o g y literature was done f r o m interviews w i t h ten lesbian w o m e n about the f o r m i n g o f their lesbian identity a n d their career trajectory (Boatwright , G i l b e r t , Forrest, a n d K e t z e n b e r g e r , l 9 9 6 ) . T h e w o m e n i n this study were gathered through a fr iendship s a m p l i n g and ranged f r o m age 30 to 45 w i t h nine white w o m e n and one A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n . M a n y h a d attained above average levels o f higher education and although many were i n h e l p i n g professions, there was more o f a variety i n careers w i t h some i n non tradit ional posit ions. " F u l l y accept ing what is def ined by m a n y i n society as a ' n o n n o r m a t i v e ' sexual orientation is a l o n g a n d mult i faceted process consequently; ' c o m i n g o u t ' m a y be def ined uniquely by each i n d i v i d u a l " (Boatwright et. a l . , 1996, p. 214). Despi te this acknowledgement o f the i n d i v i d u a l i t y o f the process a n d the s o c i a l oppression at its root, these researchers go on to label this process a second adolescence. T h e c o m i n g out experience was conceptua l i zed by B o a t w r i g h t et a l . around themes that descr ibed it as a " f irst ' r e a l ' adolescence", as a " s e c o n d adolescence" a n d as "establ ishing a lesbian ident i ty" (p.216-217). It is possible that these researchers' backgrounds i n psychology leads to p l a c i n g this often arduous process that can occur at any t i m e i n an adult w o m a n ' s l i fe into some sort o f deve lopmental p s y c h o l o g i c a l frame work . Boatwr ight et a l . acknowledge feminist theories that cr i t ique such developmental theorists as E r i k s o n , as possibly based on " w h i t e , androcentric , heterosexist experience a n d values": Y e t they conceptual ize the c o m i n g out process and its d isor ient ing effects o n identity, and at t imes career, as a second adolescence (p. 210). Is this labe l o f a second adolescence necessary? S o m e h o w a second adolescence seems to m e to m i n i m i z e the ro le that societal oppression plays i n this uncover ing process. It uses a concept, adolescence, w h i c h has some very white , eurocentric meanings. A l s o there needs to be some considerat ion o f the l i fe style/career changes around m i d - l i f e that c a n be true for m a n y w o m e n , b o t h heterosexual a n d lesbian. W o m e n returning to school to pursue n e w careers i n m i d l i f e is not a n e w phenomena, a l though psychologists have again d u b b e d it as a disorder a n d a stage, b y l a b e l l i n g it the " e m p t y nest syndrome". 39 D e s c r i p t i o n s o f adolescence vary f r o m culture to culture and not a l l groups o f people gear their ideas o f maturity towards a n autonomous independent adult nor do they have " d a t i n g " as one o f these rituals. B e l e n k e y et a l . (1986) quote a study by K a g a n that f o u n d that the Japanese value o f interdependence contrasted w i t h the A m e r i c a n v a l u i n g o f independence. Japanese parents were theor ized to project autonomy onto their babies a n d therefore they perceived a need to coax c h i l d r e n into a more dependent role to encourage the b o n d i n g seen as needed i n adult l i fe . A m e r i c a n parents conversely were seen as project ing dependence onto their babies a n d this has a reverse effect o n the d i r e c t i o n c h i l d r e n are encouraged to grow towards (p. 178). I agree that awareness needs to be raised about the struggles a n d the joys o f d i s c o v e r i n g a lesbian identity i n a misogynist , heterosexist culture but 1 w i s h to question the need to m a k e this fit into a pseudo second adolescence to fit into psychology ' s developmental stages. W o m e n i n the B o a t w r i g h t et a l . study also described the c o m i n g out process i n terms o f " e x p l o r i n g , d e v e l o p i n g and s o l i d i f y i n g a lesbian i d e n t i t y " ( p . 2 l 7 ) . T h i s perspective a n d terminology seems a preferable one w h e n cons ider ing this identity process. B o a t w r i g h t et a l . (1996) ident i f ied several themes affecting career trajectory: "educat ional d e l a y " w i t h descriptions o f the emot ional energy needed to focus o n a n e w identity and i n t i m a c y ; "career dera i lment" as a professional career took a ' b a c k seat' to personal issues; a n d a "sense o f fee l ing ' b e h i n d ' their heterosexual peers" w h o h a d not h a d to deal w i t h this d isrupt ion i n identity (p. 217-218). " L o s s o f career opportuni t ies" was one o f the themes organized around the subject o f societal h o m o p h o b i a . E x a m p l e s i n c l u d e d c h o o s i n g less lucrat ive posit ions than ones i n organizations that were higher prof i le a n d less tolerant, or actual ly l o s i n g a j o b poss ib i l i ty w h e n m e n t i o n i n g a specialty i n lesbian issues. " F e a r o f b e i n g d i s c o v e r e d " was the theme that incorporated strategies for r e m a i n i n g i n the closet at work. B o t h , fear o f consequences such as loss o f respect and the ult imate fear o f b e i n g f i red, were inc luded. Isolating themselves at w o r k , not b e i n g able to be honest or to real ly be themselves became c o u p l e d w i t h feelings o f b e i n g o n edge and hating themselves for their dishonesty (p. 219). " Internal ized h o m o p h o b i a " consisted o f a theme c a l l e d "negative effect o n self- 4 0 esteem and sel f -conf idence" to encompass loss o f pr ior professional confidence when learning o f their lesbian-ness. T h e second theme under this heading was c a l l e d " increased i s o l a t i o n " w h i c h resulted f r o m strategies to h ide sexual orientation and the a c c o m p a n y i n g shame a n d fear that resulted (p. 220). A m o n g s t a l l this negativity, B o a t w r i g h t et al .(1996), also found benefits w h i c h seemed to result f rom b e i n g part o f the lesbian c o m m u n i t y . F o r e x a m p l e "business benefits a n d n e t w o r k s " were ident i f ied w h i c h ga ined some o f the participants increased financial opportunities. "Support for d i f f i cu l t chal lenges" was p r o v i d e d by lesbian friends w h o encouraged the participants to pursue n e w career paths a n d supported them w h e n careers became di f f icul t . A geographical m o v e w o u l d be enabled by connections through l i n k s i n lesbian c o m m u n i t i e s . B e c o m i n g "d ivers i ty experts" is a benefit theme that B o a t w r i g h t et a l . found was strong as participants became i n v o l v e d i n " a c o m m u n i t y o f lesbian w o m e n c o m m i t t e d to process ing conf l icts u n t i l consensus is reached" (p. 221) T h i s l e d to increased abi l i ty to handle diversity issues i n a professional environment a n d pride at h o w the lesbian c o m m u n i t y is far ahead o f the straight c o m m u n i t y w i t h the example o f signers for the deaf be ing used a decade ahead o f more mainstream enterprises. " S k i l l deve lopment" was another benefit ident i f ied w h i c h i n c l u d e d advocacy sk i l l s f rom increased sensitivity to diverse issues (p. 223). V a r i a t i o n s o n many o f these themes are seen i n m y research a n d w i l l be discussed i n subsequent chapters. R u t h Fassinger (1996) also documents vocat ional issues for lesbians, l o o k i n g at the internal and external barriers to vocat ional c h o i c e , i m p l e m e n t a t i o n a n d adjustment. She identif ies the f o l l o w i n g vocat ional issues for lesbians: " l a c k o f self-confidence and d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g s k i l l s ; occupat ional stereotyping a n d l i m i t e d perce ived choices; bias i n c o u n s e l i n g and testing; lack o f role models ; l a c k o f support f rom parents, f a m i l i e s , spouses, peers, faculty result ing i n a ' n u l l ' educational environment; se l f doubt; in terna l i z ing d i s c r i m i n a t i o n ; gui l t ; fear o f others' attitudes; m u l t i p l e role issues i n the h o m e - w o r k interface; occupat ional d i s c r i m i n a t i o n ; harassment; a n d ' o l d b o y ' systems" (p. 162). Lesbians i n Post Secondary/Adult E d u c a t i o n D o e s a lesbian fare better i n the educat ional process than i n the w o r k p l a c e as she prepares for her h e l p i n g professional role? Unfortunate ly , there is evidence that post- 41 secondary institutions remain heterocentric with faculty and administration often not addressing their lesbian and gay students' needs. "The costs of heterosexism on campus are lowered quality and diversity of education provided, perpetuation of the sexist status quo and traditional roles, perpetuation of ignorance and perpetuation of prejudice against an oppressed group, and internalized oppression" (Baker, 1991, p. 30). Baker highlights areas of concern including "course content, textbook content, student support services, library resources, advisement, faculty employment, and collegial support" (p. 30). She feels that faculty and administrators are responsible for assisting in eliminating heterosexism on individual and institutional levels. Confronting heterosexist attitudes, encouraging gay role models in course content, encouraging dialogue about gay issues are some ways she sees faculty taking responsibility. Institutional level intervention includes: nondiscriminatory employment policies, hiring more gay and lesbian faculty/staff, monitoring textbooks for heterosexist content, incorporating gay content when designing inclusive demographic forms, and increasing gay and lesbian literature in the library (p.31). Schreier (1995) would like to see a shift in the programming models in universities as they attempt to change heterosexist/homophobic beliefs and attitudes. Currently he sees an agenda that promotes tolerance and he would like to see that replaced with one that promotes nurturance. Tolerance means that something is "allowed" or "permitted" not necessarily something accepted, approved of or encouraged. A nurturing person is characterized as one "who gives sympathy and comfort, assists others whenever possible, and readily performs favors for others" (p. 19). When this nurturing attitude is directed towards lesbigay people, there will be "genuine affection and warmth" and the willingness "to be advocates at many levels" (p. 20). His approach assumes that "gay, lesbian, or bisexual people are invaluable to our lives and culture .. . and need to be able to empower themselves.. . heterosexual(s) can help create this encouraging environment" (p. 22). Some movement is taking place though and Hill (1995) outlines areas in which lesbian and gay adult education is taking place today. There are some independent schools in the United States as well as some courses appearing in other departments in colleges and universities. There are some actual departments of gay and lesbian studies with degrees 42 granted. S o m e l ibrar ies , cultural organizat ions, service organizat ions, a n d occupat ional associations incorporate this theme into educat ional opportunities. M a s s m e d i a , gay a n d lesbian centers a n d bars, non-profit organizations and A I D S related heal th care agencies are a l l very i n v o l v e d i n assist ing to counter heterocentrism through adult education. S o m e churches and re l ig ious organizations as w e l l as some p o l i t i c a l parties have developed gay interest groups. H i l l argues that m u c h o f this act iv i ty does not reflect the character o f a defiant a n d l iberat ing , p o p u l a r adult educat ion soc ia l movement , rather it is an e x a m p l e o f h o w groups that chal lenge power relations have b e c o m e spec ia l interest groups a n d this d e p o l i t i c i z a t i o n "has the potential to destroy the role o f radical p r a x i s " (p. 153). S o c i a l movements are effective because they are f l u i d a n d are outside the status quo using unconventional radica l methods that educate as w e l l as push for soc ia l change. A s these spec ia l interest groups a n d gay associations d e v e l o p a n d b e c o m e inst i tut ional ized the m o v e m e n t is taken inside structures that l i m i t n o n - c o n f o r m i n g behaviours. T h u s instead o f using radica l grassroots strategies they b e c o m e "domest icated a n d co-opted" (p: 152). H i l l also suggests that "future adult education research w i l l need to be sensitive to both the c h a n g i n g gay discourse a n d the heterocentric biases i n past research methods, topic se lect ion, m e t h o d o l o g i c a l approaches, sample se lect ion, data c o l l e c t i o n , data analysis , a n d report ing o f results" (p. 153). C h a p k i s (1994) identif ies the addit ions that lesbian a n d gay academics are m a k i n g as they take their p lace transgressively w i t h i n the academy. W e tend to quest ion authority, to c r i t i c i z e established methods o f research a n d to see our w o r k and our l ives as e x p l i c i t l y p o l i t i c a l . W e are at the forefront i n re th inking our pedagogy— h o w we teach a n d the relat ionship between students a n d teachers. (P-13) Ett inger (1994) describes what happens w h e n those w h o have been s i lenced b e g i n to speak i n educational situations: A n interesting th ing often happens w h e n people o f c o l o u r speak up i n a class: everyone else feels si lenced. . . E v e r y o n e else real ly means P e o p l e L a c k i n g an A g e n d a ( P L A s ) , people whose interest i n race, class, a n d gender is grounded i n - 43 something other than the need to survive i n an al ien culture and/or to assess i n g o o d faith their o w n pos i t ion i n the m u l t i p l e systems o f subordinat ion that constitute the culture (p. 51) Ett inger goes o n to describe the disor ientat ion that c a n happen w h e n the hegemonic heterosexual discourse is replaced by strategies that reject its often malevolent frames. " A s subordinated people generate a discourse w h i c h i m p l i c i t l y or e x p l i c i t l y crit iques the established order o f the c lassroom P L A s b e g i n to lose themselves" (p. 53). She suggests that white people a n d heterosexuals need to take some responsibi l i ty for r a c i s m a n d heterosexism. " T o take responsibi l i ty is to f i n d your footing i n a w o r l d outside the dominant discourse. T o take responsibi l i ty is to acquire a n agenda" (p. 54). G e n d e r S o c i a l i z a t i o n and F e m a l e D o m i n a t e d Professions E v e r y female infant b o m into a patriarchal culture is subjected, i n v a r y i n g degrees, to p a i n f u l c ircumstances related to d i s c r i m i n a t i o n and oppression. M y focus i n this study is o n the oppression a n d d i s c r i m i n a t i o n that affects w o m e n i n the W e s t e r n w o r l d spec i f i ca l ly N o r t h A m e r i c a , i n institutions such as f a m i l y , educat ion and professional w o r k . 1 0 G i l l i g a n ' s (1982) w o r k a n d those o f subsequent researchers, for example Reitsma-Street (1991), indicate that identity for w o m e n is def ined i n re lat ionship and evolves around an ethic o f responsibi l i ty a n d care so that by the t ime a g i r l reaches the teenage years "the mandate to care is f i r m l y establ ished" (Baines , E v a n s , & N e y s m i t h , 1991, p. 18). " S u c h traits as nurturing a n d tak ing care o f others, serving and b e i n g orientated to contr ibut ing to others" have been act ively cul t ivated through sex-role soc ia l i zat ion ( K e m p , 1994, p. 246). B a i n e s et a l . (1991) also see patr iarchal notions o f f a m i l y i n v o l v e d i n w o m e n ' s unequal role i n caring. W o m e n are indoctr inated into the ideology o f motherhood and f e m i n i n i t y a n d are s o c i a l i z e d to "ass imi late the expectations a n d norms surrounding car ing i n o u r society" (p. 19). In a study o f pairs o f adolescent sisters, one w h o was considered del inquent due to contacts w i t h youth court and one non-del inquent, Reitsma-Street (1991) found that " g i r l s l 0 F o r documentat ion o f the torturous atrocities to infants, gir ls a n d w o m e n i n m a n y cultures see D a l y (1978/1990) and R u s h (1980). 44 not o n l y learn to care a n d to bear the costs o f car ing , they are a lso p o l i c e d to care a n d to bear the costs" (p. 110). She found that both sets o f sisters were "pressured subtly a n d f o r c i b l y to care for others i n certain ways, especia l ly for boyfr iends, fathers, and c h i l d r e n , more than for themselves" (p. 110). She saw these y o u n g w o m e n learning that " w o m e n were the major providers o f care for others and that they were expected to do l i k e w i s e " ; that they were to restrict c a r i n g for themselves to c u l t i v a t i n g a phys ica l appearance a n d personality that c o n f o r m e d to the " W e s t e r n f e m i n i n e female" ; and that boyfr iends are to be "the p r i m a r y object o f c a r i n g " (p. 116). She does m e n t i o n that the del inquent sisters fought m o r e against these lessons and she mentions some o f them report ing "exper imentat ion w i t h lesbian re lat ionships" but the rest o f her focus a n d it w o u l d seem the sisters' focus is o n boyfr iends (p. 115). W h a t are some o f the costs for these adolescent gir ls as they learn their societal lessons o f caring? She found that " g i r l s seriously restrict the development o f their o w n interests and independence" (p. 120); " the ir bodies a n d spirits pay the price o f sexual assault, unwanted pregnancy, inadequate b i r t h contro l , as w e l l as miscarriages and abort ions" (p. 121); a n d they have an i ncrease i n "the risk o f poverty a n d dependence"(p. 122). Reitsma-Street (1991) sums up some o f these consequences stating: D i v o r c e , j u g g l i n g h o m e a n d p a i d w o r k , p i n k c o l l a r ghettos, poor pay a n d poorer welfare and c h i l d care, a n d increas ing unemployment , especia l ly d u r i n g t imes o f recession, m a k e gir ls even more vulnerable to poverty or dependence o n others for food and shelter, (p. 122) Caring for refers to "the instrumental a n d tangible tasks i n v o l v e d i n c a r i n g " a n d caring about refers to the "expressive and affective d i m e n s i o n s " (Baines ,1991 , p. 15). "Because c a r i n g is p r o v i d e d i n the context o f a supposedly freely entered relat ionship a n d regarded as ' n a t u r a l ' for w o m e n , the labour i n v o l v e d is often rendered i n v i s i b l e " (p. 14). I f w o m e n want better wages as they care for others they are often accused o f not car ing about those they are g i v i n g a service to. " T h e pattern i n w h i c h poor ly paid>,women provide care to vulnerable populations has been evident throughout the development a n d expansion o f heal th a n d socia l services i n C a n a d a " (p. 16). 45 M a t e r n a l f e m i n i s m , the u n d e r l y i n g ideology d u r i n g the first wave o f f e m i n i s m that e m p o w e r e d a n d enabled w o m e n to w o r k outside the h o m e , a lso " r e i n f o r c e d the tradi t ional role o f w o m e n as caregivers" (Baines , 1991, p. 36). B a s e d o n notions o f b i o l o g i c a l d e t e r m i n i s m , maternal f e m i n i s m saw nurturing qualit ies i n a l l w o m e n thus m a k i n g t h e m good agents for soc ia l reform. " A l t h o u g h maternal f e m i n i s m was i n many respects a narrow, b i o l o g i c a l , a n d conservative v i e w o f w o m e n ' s car ing role , it e m p o w e r e d w o m e n to w o r k i n hospitals , church-based soc ia l services, a n d schools a n d fostered a f e m i n i n e consciousness a n d the sol idar i ty o f w o m e n " (Baines , 1991, p.42). T h i s sol idar i ty a m o n g • w o m e n was ev idenced b y the creation o f organizations such as the Y o u n g W o m e n ' s C h r i s t i a n A s s o c i a t i o n , the W o m a n ' s C h r i s t i a n Temperance U n i o n , a n d B i g Sisters. " W o m e n ' s early efforts to expand their p u b l i c role were based o n an ethic o f care n o w embedded i n the professions o f s o c i a l w o r k , teaching a n d n u r s i n g " (p. 24). Nurses h a d " a n ethic o f service and a l t ruism c o m m i t t e d to the p u b l i c g o o d " underpinning their w o r k , but an emphasis o n sc ient i f ic m e d i c i n e a n d a culture that a f f i r m e d the male-centered values o f order, e f f ic iency, and a h ierarchica l d i v i s i o n o f labour e v o l v e d so that "phys ic ians became the key players i n health care" (p.50). Y e t the organizat ion o f the hospita l "depended o n a cadre o f d i s c i p l i n e d nurses to u p h o l d the authority a n d p r i m a c y o f the p h y s i c i a n " (p. 55). W o m e n teachers were also rooted i n maternal f e m i n i s m a c c o r d i n g to B a i n e s and were to " u p h o l d the domest ic virtues o f the h o m e and transmit these to the broader c o m m u n i t y through the educat ion o f the y o u n g " (p. 51). T e a c h i n g y o u n g c h i l d r e n especial ly was considered w e l l suited to w o m e n w i t h their c a r i n g orientation. T h u s w o m e n c o u l d w o r k outside the h o m e i n the c a r i n g roles o f teaching, n u r s i n g a n d socia l w o r k , but the maternal feminist ideology conta ined some b i o l o g i c a l d e t e r m i n i s m that made profess ional izat ion w i t h its male ethic d i f f i cu l t to obtain. " M e n first gained a m o n o p o l y w i t h i n the tradit ional professions a n d then gradual ly assumed control o f the semi-professions" (Baines , 1991, p. 55). W h e n discuss ing professional occupations, K e m p (1994) gives examples such as physicians, lawyers a n d registered nurses but she sees differences i n the ways female-dominated professions r e m a i n semi-professions. Female-dominated professions she sees.as "more, orientated toward the 46 appl icat ion o f k n o w l e d g e than the creat ion o f i t , and they l a c k the abi l i ty to m o n o p o l i z e that knowledge a n d to self-regulate" (p. 218). B a i n e s (1991) states "cr i t iques o f profess ional izat ion suggest that although specia l k n o w l e d g e and expertise are characteristics attributed to the professions, the key element is s o c i a l p o w e r " (p. 37). T h e "service to h u m a n i t y " values o f the female-dominated professions are seen as extensions o f the h o m e m a k e r role a n d are thus devalued ( K e m p , 1994, p. 218). T h e subordinate nature o f the re lat ionship o f the female-dominated profession o f nurs ing to the tradi t ional ly male-dominated one o f m e d i c i n e , seems obvious to m e h a v i n g l i v e d it, but she also cites the psychologist to soc ia l w o r k e r re lat ionship as another example . " W o m e n have been systemical ly denied l e g i t i m a c y as healers as far back as the fourteenth century when university t ra in ing was established as the credential d is t inguishing healers f r o m w i t c h e s " ( K e m p , 1994, p. 2 1 8 ) . 1 1 Univers i t ies p r o h i b i t e d w o m e n f r o m attending and nurs ing is the area w o m e n were eventual ly a l l o w e d to dominate. A r e w o m e n w h o enter the p a i d labour force s t i l l consol idated i n sex-segregated occupations and professions? Statistics C a n a d a (1995), shows us that e m p l o y e d w o m e n i n 1994 are s t i l l very m u c h concentrated i n female d o m i n a t e d areas w i t h 7 0 % " w o r k i n g i n either teaching, nurs ing , and health-related occupations, c l e r i c a l posi t ions, or sales and services" (p. 67). A further break d o w n o f the figures reveals that i n 1994 w o m e n were " 8 6 % o f nurses a n d health-related therapists, 8 0 % o f c lerks , 6 3 % o f teachers, 5 6 % o f service personnel , a n d 4 6 % o f sales persons"(p.67). T h e attempt to attract m e n into these professions has s h o w n that they often end up i n more " m a l e " roles o f leadership a n d administrat ive posit ions. T h e f e w m e n w h o c o m e into nurs ing, rise l i k e o i l m i x e d i n water to sit i n posit ions at the top ( K e m p , 1994, p. 226). T h i s then places t h e m i n the higher pay ing j o b s i n nurs ing as w e l l as i n a tradit ional place o f authority accorded to m e n i n Western society. L e i g h n i n g e r (1996) cites a s i m i l a r c o n d i t i o n " F o r more o n witches (practitioners o f the W i c c a n re l ig ion) often the. Vi l lage herbalists a n d m i d w i f e s see Starhawk (1979/1989). F o r three centuries the C h r i s t i a n patriarchy burned, d r o w n e d a n d hung greater estimated numbers o f w o m e n than Jews were k i l l e d i n N a z i G e r m a n y . 47 i n social work. " F r o m socia l w o r k ' s beginnings , there has been a noticeable d i v i s i o n i n labor between male a n d female soc ia l workers w i t h m e n generally i n charge" (p. 129). T h e s m a l l number o f female teachers w h o b e c o m e pr inc ipa ls i n school systems has also been a f i n d i n g o f feminist researchers ( K i n n e a r , 1995, p. 123). T h e increased numbers o f m e n teaching i n secondary schools also seems rooted i n expectations o f w o m e n to be car ing for the c h i l d r e n i n a more maternal w a y i n j unior grades and m e n to "wrest le w i t h a m o r e f o r m a l academic p r o g r a m o f educational theory" (Baines , 1991, p. 64). Persuading society a n d some nurses that nurs ing deserves the recogni t ion a n d rewards that are accorded some other professional w o r k , has been d i f f i cu l t , a c c o r d i n g to K i n n e a r (1995). She sees "the m o n u m e n t a l shape o f Florence N i g h t i n g a l e " as t o w e r i n g "over the development o f the o c c u p a t i o n " (p. 98). K n o w n for her p ioneer ing efforts d u r i n g the C r i m e a n w a r a n d her i n i t i a t i o n o f schools for nurses, her legacy states that she was tireless and dedicated herse l f so nobly to h e l p i n g others. L e i g h n i n g e r (1996) f inds w o m e n soc ia l workers also have s i m i l a r saint- l ike characteristics expected o f them. She tends to point the f inger at w o m e n saying " w o m e n have part ic ipated i n this d o m i n a t i o n through their tendency t o w a r d a l t r u i s m a n d sel f -sacr i f ice" (p. 129). A u t o n o m y seems to be the most d i f f i cu l t area that the nurs ing profession especial ly has yet to achieve. H o s p i t a l administrators a n d physic ians have sought c o n t r o l o f nurses. K i n n e a r (1995) v i e w s this phenomena as a gender issue w i t h m a l e administrators and physicians o p p o s i n g attempts " f r o m nurs ing organizations to regulate their o w n vo ice i n the government o f health-care systems" (p. 100). T h i s not ion o f autonomy is at odds w i t h what is expected o f w o m e n i n society, that is dependence a n d subordination. Just as the idea o f a m a r r i e d w o m a n b e i n g a professional was contradictory, so too is the i d e a o f a group o f w o m e n m a k i n g authoritative decisions. A l l e n (1987) points out that a l though nurs ing says it is professional , it lacks control o f " 'the terms, condit ions a n d content ' o f i ts ' w o r k " (p. 7). D e c i s i o n m a k i n g regarding the type o f service p r o v i d e d , the technology e m p l o y e d , the a l locat ion o f personnel , w o r k i n g condit ions , what nurses wear to w o r k , arid the environment they w o r k i n , are a l l made without nurses input i n most cases (p. 7). A l l e n states that this l a c k o f control over their w o r k i n g condit ions is often c i ted by nurses as one o f the reasons 48 that cause them to leave the profession. M c P h e r e s o n (1996) discusses the increased m i l i t a n c y o f nurses as they unionize a n d participate i n strikes, such as the one i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a i n 1989. "Frustrated w i t h inadequate staffing, a n intensi f ied pace o f w o r k , insufficient salaries, a n d the dramatic outmigrat ion o f their co-workers f r o m the p r o v i n c e and the o c c u p a t i o n , nurses i n B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a went o n str ike"(p. 248). 1 part ic ipated i n this strike a n d f o u n d it to be one o f the most e m p o w e r i n g experiences I have h a d as a nurse. N o w i n 1998, the B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a Nurses U n i o n has obtained a strike vote again to assist i n h e l p i n g to settle their contract dispute w i t h the H e a l t h E m p l o y e r s A s s o c i a t i o n o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a over excessive w o r k l o a d s a n d other unsatisfactory condit ions. M c P h e r e s o n sees a c o m b i n a t i o n o f unionizat ion , f e m i n i s m and professional development as the factors i n C a n a d i a n nurs ing 's transformation to increased p o l i t i c a l awareness. She sees nurses n o w quest ioning "the concepts o f f e m i n i n i t y and profess ional ism that have been central to their occupat ional identity a n d organizat ional f o r m " (p. 249). I n d i v i d u a l autonomy w i t h its m a s c u l i n i s t roots, seen as a core o f what is considered professional , c a n be i n conf l ic t w i t h a female d o m i n a t e d profession ( A l l e n , 1987, p.9). W o r k by G i l l i g a n (1982) and B e l e n k e y et. a l (1986) have suggested that there are other ways that some w o m e n prefer to make decis ions w h i c h have more to do w i t h c o l l a b o r a t i o n a n d connect ion. M a y b e the w h o l e underpinning o f the bel iefs and practices accorded to m a l e professionals w h i c h female-dominated professions have attempted to f o l l o w , are not appropriate or effective. Profess ional i sm has been based on mascul in is t scienti f ic notions o f "object iv i ty a n d mastery or d o m i n a t i o n (as opposed to understanding ) " ( A l l e n , 1987, p. 13). A l l e n points out h o w this leads to inappropriate models for car ing for s ick people such as treating the c l ient as a "mere b o d y " , a n d health care professionals w o r k i n g i n a hierarchy rather than interdependently as they h e l p another person (p. 13). " M u t u a l i t y i n relat ionships a n d co l lect ive co-operat ion" are ident i f ied b y feminists as "values c o n d u c i v e to redistr ibuting the costs and benefits o f c a r i n g between m e n , w o m e n , and the state" (Baines , 1991, p.25). B a i n e s feels that w e need to begin b y " r e c o g n i z i n g w o m e n ' s c a r i n g as w o r k " a n d 49 " ident i fy the k n o w l e d g e and s k i l l s " der ived f r o m this and "va lue these i n the same w a y as more tradit ional modes o f i n q u i r y " (p. 66). S i t t i n g i n a c l a s s r o o m for elementary students recently I not iced posters o n the w a l l w i t h words a n d sk i l l s i n c l u d i n g " d e f i n e " and "analys is" . I thought about these s k i l l s that are taught to y o u n g students. W o u l d there ever be posters w i t h " i n t u i t i o n " or " e m p a t h y " o n them? W h a t other s k i l l s do I rely o n w h e n I do hea l ing w o r k w i t h cl ients that I have no names for that w o u l d be categorized under w o m e n ' s car ing or emot ional labour? B a i n e s also points out that "profess ional izat ion has been a c c o m p a n i e d by a n attempt to objectify the cared-for and has l e d to b l a m i n g the v i c t i m " and poss ib ly increased the distance "between w o m e n teachers, nurses, a n d s o c i a l workers a n d those they serve" (p. 67). She feels that " a feminist ethos o f profess ional ism needs to be based o n an ideology that integrates a n ethic o f care a n d forms a m o r e equal partnership w i t h the cared-for" (p.67). T h i s d iscuss ion around the cl ient/professional re lat ionship w i l l be cont inued further i n m y r e v i e w o f H e y w a r d ' s (1994) w o r k later i n this chapter. W h a t o f the heterosexual nature o f relat ionships a m o n g professionals and those i n what have been c a l l e d the semi-professions or female d o m i n a t e d professions? T h e heterosexual f a m i l y mythology constructs the n o t i o n o f a natural ly o c c u r r i n g "consensual , n o n conf l i c tua l source o f support for a l l o f its m e m b e r s " ( A l l e n , 1987, p. 14). A s the statistics o n domest ic (often male) v i o l e n c e i n the f a m i l y reveal there is a discrepancy between this m y t h a n d many f a m i l i e s ' realities. T h i s b e l i e f system o r mythology, attempts to relegate " w o m e n ' s sexuality to heterosexual , monogamous institutions and s imultaneously to secure the benefits o f w o m e n ' s domest ic labour for m e n " (p. 14). Is it real ly best for the e lderly patient to be cared for i n their home w h e n the care then fal ls o n daughters already burdened? T h e m y t h o f the f a m i l y b e i n g a c a r i n g s i tuation for a l l usual ly takes a t o l l o n those, often w o m e n , w h o are expected to do the caring. Lesbians are seen as a major threat to this system as they attempt to l i v e their l ives i n some ways independent o f men. T h e structures k e e p i n g these f a m i l i a l b e l i e f systems i n place makes " e x t r a - f a m i l i a l l i v i n g e m o t i o n a l l y a n d f inanc ia l ly d i f f icul t to mainta in"(p . 14). T h e l o w e r wages p a i d to w o m e n result ing f r o m their not b e i n g seen as p r i m a r y wage earners; the l a c k o f a career 50 ladder and short pay raise scale; and m o n o p s o n y , where organizations such as "hospita ls i n a geographic area agree not to compete w i t h each other" c a n lead to reduced incomes a n d career opportunities for nurses and other care-givers (p. 15). Lesbians attempting to have a career i n nurs ing a n d to some extent other female dominated professions, are then caught ins ide a mascul in is t , heterosexist structure. A lesbian h e l p i n g professional i n a career such as nurs ing , teaching, a n d s o c i a l w o r k w h i c h have been devalued as extensions o f domest ic i ty , w o r k s alongside other w o m e n , often i n v i s i b l e as a lesbian, one extra oppression a n d increased stressor added to her load. Lesbians g r o w up w i t h i n female gender expectations and soc ia l i zat ion patterns and have to deal w i t h the treatment g i v e n to w o m e n as "not g o o d enough", as second class c i t izens, as the "other" that S i m o n e D e B e a u v i o r (1952/1991) describes. T h e career l imi tat ions i n professions such as nursing; the pay scale that reaches a m a x i m u m that is m u c h l o w e r than the fee for service i n c o m e o f some other professions; a n d a re lat ionship to the p h y s i c i a n that has its roots i n a subservient, w i f e l y role; c o u l d c u m u l a t i v e l y be f o u n d quite strangulating. A d d e d to this is the heterosexism that is inst i tut ional ized i n society a n d i n workplaces w h i c h c o u l d m a k e l i fe as a lesbian h e l p i n g professional at the very least oppressive, w i t h the fears o f the poss ib i l i ty o f j o b loss or d i s c r i m i n a t i o n a constant backdrop. O n the other hand, h a v i n g co-workers w h o are usually female is one o f the aspects o f nurs ing I have appreciated. T h i s aspect o f female dominated professions may have been appreciated also by lesbians i n the past as they dedicated their l ives to their careers a n d w o r k e d c lose ly w i t h other w o m e n . Surely lesbians found e m p l o y m e n t i n these occupations that i n i t i a l l y were seen as appropriate for s ingle w o m e n only. M c P h e r s o n (1996) i n a s o c i a l history o f C a n a d i a n nurs ing , discusses the c o m p u l s o r y heterosexuality that "served to marginal ize or m a k e i n v i s i b l e homoerot ic re lat ions" i n nurs ing, a " w o r l d o f a lmost e x c l u s i v e l y female occupat ion i n w h i c h bonds between w o m e n were accepted and encouraged" (p. 16). She f o u n d some " a l l u s i o n s to intense or spec ia l fr iendships between t w o students and o c c a s i o n a l indicat ions that some o f these coupl ings were orientated a l o n g a mascul ine- feminine dyad, a less extreme v e r s i o n o f the butchrfernme personae that developed w i t h i n the lesbian c o m m u n i t i e s i n the 1950s"(p. 182S). She goes o n to note that 51 there is " n o evidence that the w o m e n ident i f ied as part o f a couple pursued same-sex relations i n their postgraduate careers" (p. 183). She d i d find letters writ ten by a nurse i n the late 1930's w h o was heart b r o k e n w h e n another nurse that she h a d been l i v i n g w i t h , a n d i n fact w h o m she h a d a c c o m p a n i e d to a R e d C r o s s outpost pos i t ion , d i e d o f inf luenza. H e r letters to other R e d Cross personnel reveal that she was seen as the dead w o m a n ' s l i f e partner although the o f f i c i a l obituaries announced o n l y that her partner was " s u r v i v e d by her parents and a brother" (p. 185). M c P h e r e s o n states that "companionate relations w i t h other w o m e n was not unusual i n the nineteenth a n d early twentieth centuries" w h e n w o m e n " w h o chose w o r k over marriage forged close e m o t i o n a l a n d s o c i a l bonds w i t h other w o m e n " (p. 185). T h i s results i n a debate amongst historians as to whether " e m o t i o n a l i n t i m a c y extended into sexual i n t i m a c y as w e l l " a n d " s h o u l d such relations be c a l l e d lesbian i f that erotic element is absent or u n p r o v a b l e ? " (p. 186). She concludes that "heterosexual or lesbian w o m e n w i s h i n g to tf angress openly the sexual mores o f the day were not e m p o w e r e d by the restrictive sexuality inherent i n nurs ing 's convent ional feminine i m a g e " (p. 186). In his b o o k o n lesbian a n d gay nurses Z u r l i n d e n (1997) rounds out the picture o f N i g h t i n g a l e , the lady w i t h the l a m p , as he mentions letters wri t ten by F lorence w h i c h reveal her passion for w o m e n that carr ied over into the bedroom. T h e lesbian-ness o f this p ioneer ing w o m a n ' s l i f e is not usual ly a c k n o w l e d g e d i n n u r s i n g histories, nor are her active p o l i t i c a l efforts. C e r t a i n l y the presence o f lesbians inside the female d o m i n a t e d professions is not n e w and feminist socia l historians are struggling w i t h this subject as they delve into the past, aware o f its androcentric a n d heterosexist records. R a c i s m M y part icular s a m p l i n g strategy d i d not result i n any lesbian h e l p i n g professionals o f colour(s) and this issue w i l l be discussed i n later sections o f the thesis, but the r a c i s m that is present i n the w o r k f o r c e and i n the h e l p i n g professions c o u l d have h a d an indirect effect o n this. K e m p (1994) outl ines some A m e r i c a n statistics o n B l a c k w o m e n ' s careers/work. She sees sex segregation w i t h B l a c k w o m e n f o u n d at the l o w p a y i n g e n d o f female occupations. K e m p (1994) states that " B l a c k w o m e n tend to be concentrated i n serving the B l a c k 52 c o m m u n i t y or i n p u b l i c service jobs . . . . their hour ly earnings are consistently b e l o w those o f both B l a c k m e n a n d white w o m e n " (p. 224). A c c o r d i n g to the statistics, once B l a c k w o m e n c l i m b into the professions they are m o r e numerous than B l a c k men. She attributes some o f this to their relegation to the female-dominated profession o f s c h o o l teaching (p. 213). In t imes o f major change, white m e n e n d up i n the best j o b s , according to D i T o m a s o a n d S m i t h (1996) w h o also state " a m o n g w o m e n professionals. . . white w o m e n have a more favorable situation i n terms o f access to g o o d j o b s than do b l a c k w o m e n "(p.94 ). D a s G u p t a (1996) studied "the most comprehensive settlement achieved i n C a n a d a w i t h respect to systemic d i s c r i m i n a t i o n i n the w o r k p l a c e " w h i c h resulted after " 4 years o f del iberations and hearings "(p.97). T h i s f o l l o w e d a 1990 t i l i n g o f c o m p l a i n t s w i t h the Ontar io H u m a n R i g h t s C o m m i s s i o n , b y seven B l a c k nurses a n d one F i l i p i n o nurse, against a n Ontar io hospi ta l (p.97). She notes that " a pattern o f segmentation o f w o r k a l o n g rac ia l l ines is a feature o f health care i n most o f the advanced capital ist countries o f the West ' ' (p. 105). D a s G u p t a discusses the w a y i n w h i c h " b l a c k nurses and other nurses o f c o l o u r are often assigned to heavier duties i n less spec ia l i zed areas, less desirable shifts and units despite the fact that some o f these nurses have considerable experiences a n d s k i l l s " (p. 105). P r o m o t i o n s a n d performance appraisals are subjected to rac ia l bias as are recruitment a n d d i s c i p l i n a r y practices (p. 106-107). H o w this takes place o n everyday levels inc ludes excessive m o n i t o r i n g , b l a m i n g the v i c t i m (even w h e n they m a y actual ly have been the target o f harassment), a n d scapegoating (Das G u p t a , 1996, p. 110). T h e stereotypes entrenched i n health care about B l a c k people c o m e f r o m myths that started i n the slave trade. "Stereotypica l ideas about B l a c k people b e i n g ' c h i l d l i k e , ' ' i n f e r i o r , " u n s k i l l e d ' a n d 'dishonest ' underl ie the practices o f infanta l izat ion, b l a m i n g the v i c t i m , bias i n w o r k a l l o c a t i o n a n d underemployment" (p. 110). D a s G u p t a concludes that " r a c e - b l i n d a n d class- b l i n d research leads to serious f laws i n our understanding o f what is happening i n nurs ing a n d i n heal th care i n general"(p. 115). I w o u l d o f course l i k e to a d d s e x u a l i t y - b l i n d research to D a s G u p t a ' s c o m p l a i n t about f laws i n our understanding. V a r y i n g degrees o f homophobia/heterosexism are f o u n d i n part icular cu l tura l groups, both h is tor ica l ly and currently. A u d r e L o r d e (1984) discusses the di f f icul t ies b l a c k 53 lesbians have as they are "caught between the racism of white woman and the homophobia of their [black] sisters" (p. 122). She states that in the Black community "any female self- assertion" is accused of being lesbian and black lesbians are seen as a threat to "Black nationhood" (p. 121). Thus life would seem particularly harsh for Black, lesbian helping professionals, whether they are in an occupational situation which includes service to a Black community or in an already stigmatized position, surrounded by racism, serving a predominantly white or mixed race community. Many may feel they must make a choice in their loyalties to the black community or the lesbian community although they are affected by both racism and heterosexism. Native North American gays and lesbians are surrounded by serious racial discrimination, having barely survived the near genocide of the colonial white fathers, with poverty, substance abuse, and A I D S continuing to k i l l them in high numbers. They seem to have been given a much kinder heritage though from their native traditions. The concept of being two-spirited was "based on the recognition of people with alternate genders and/or sexualities as contributing members of traditional communities" (Wilson, 1996, p. 305). Wilson goes on to discuss how in some native cultures "two-spirited people were thought to be born ' i n balance'. . . a balance of masculine and feminine qualities, of male and female sp i r i t s . . . . are often seen as 'bridge makers' between male and female, the spiritual and the material" (p. 305). 1 2 This two-spirited concept seems to be related to more than an individual's sexual orientation/identity with its spiritual focus expanding the Western notion. As First Nations people are reclaiming their heritage, the inclusiveness of their community could assist in supporting a two-spirited woman as she navigates a professional education and occupation. Racism coupled with sexism and heterosexism in the workplace is an area that needs further attention in research and academic literature in order to broaden our understanding of the complexity of identity and oppressive structures and situations. 1 2 l t needs to be noted that there are many different cultures and cultural beliefs within the broad category of First Nations. This is true also of the cultural diversity subsumed under the category Black or Asian. . 5 4 Ethics/Boundar ies I n response to one o f the themes that arose d u r i n g the interview/coding stage o f the research, I e x p l o r e d the area o f professional ethics and boundaries. A s was discussed previously , profess ional ism is based on a mascul in is t , h ierarchica l a n d heterosexist paradigm. B e i n g detached and objective, a p p l y i n g some type o f l inear l o g i c to h u m a n relat ionships, b o t h profess ional or personal (the later b inary w e k n o w is a false d i c h o t o m y ) just does not a lways provide the most v iab le options. Often at y o u n g ages these w o m e n were p l a c e d i n posit ions w i t h great responsibi l i ty , a n d as lesbians,especial ly i n the past as c loseted lesbians, they struggled w i t h ethical concerns that m a y not have been v o i c e d to other workers. G u i d e l i n e s w h i c h were a n d are avai lable m a y not suit their situation. T h e false d ichotomies o f the heteropatriarchy were set up to keep w o m e n at h o m e as a m a n ' s private property d o i n g unpaid labour. These rules are seen i n a different l ight as lesbians (who real ly aren't supposed to exist) c o m e to do p a i d w o m e n ' s w o r k o f car ing for others inside mascul in is t structures. I n her struggle to understand her w o u n d i n g f r o m experiences i n therapy w i t h a "s ister" , another lesbian, feminist profess ional , H e y w a r d (1993) comes to some p r o f o u n d insights into " p r o f e s s i o n a l " ethics a n d boundaries. Those o f us i n v o l v e d i n the h e l p i n g professions need to reexamined these concepts a n d practices i n l ight o f their white , patr iarchal , sc ient i f ic , a n d classist origins, i n her book, H e y w a r d inc ludes responses to her pos i t ion f r o m other professionals. M i r i a m Greenspan, a feminist psychotherapist, ( i n H e y w a r d ) defines profess ional ism as: an entire h ierarchica l system o f value, status, a n d ul t imately o f p o w e r . . . . a measure o f w o r t h that starts w i t h the objective capital ist market value o f the professional , the price he c o m m a n d s for his services . . . it ends w i t h the internal izat ion o f this market value i n the f o r m o f what psychologists c a l l self-esteem (p. 201). W h a t happens i n this status conscious, credentia led hierarchy is that the "profess ional is s o m e b o d y " a n d "the nonprofess ional is n o b o d y " (p. 201). Contrary to bel iefs that this is a c c o m p l i s h e d entirely b y "sheer talent, inte l l igence, perseverance a n d hard w o r k " , Greenspan sees that "often one is b o r n to this by inherited class p r i v i l e g e " a n d 55 this h ierarchica l system keeps "people separate and unequal"(p.201). O n c e again the dual ist ic binaries are c i t e d that polar ize a n d keep some groups/individuals as other a n d devalued. Reason/emotions, w i t h their resul t ing mascul ine/feminine associations, are then accorded to the professional a n d the c l ient respectively. T h i s " c o n d e m n s the Patient to infer ior status. ' N e u t r a l i t y ' is rea l ly the absence o f connect ion to the devalued (nonprofessional) O t h e r . " (p. 202). B y possessing knowledge , the professional has p o w e r over the c l ient (or student or patient) a n d this " i n e v i t a b l y leads to the control or m a n i p u l a t i o n o f the O t h e r by the Profess ional - i f the Profess ional wishes to l i v e up to the ethic o f care he has been t a u g h t " ( p . 2 0 3 ) 1 3 . Greenspan ( i n H e y w a r d ) cites R . D . L a i n g and Jurgen Habermas, as two professionals w h o c o m m e n t e d o n respectively, the disease o f this ethic and the c losed system o f this professional paradigm (p. 203). H e y w a r d introduces the n o t i o n o f patr iarchal l o g i c as "the systemic, pervasive order ing o f our bodies/minds/souls/selves i n re la t ion to one another through a h ierarchica l construct ion o f unchanging power relations, "(p. 4). 'the fathers'- are ordained b y b i r t h , race, class, r e l i g i o n , profess ion, custom, a c c u m u l a t i o n o f weal th, or s i m p l y b y their gendered genital structure, to h o l d and use p o w e r over others i n a w a y that is b e n i g n , e thica l , ' l o g i c a l ' : that is , both to ' h e l p others' a n d to secure their o w n p o w e r so that it does not change hands, (p. 4) Seeing as unethical rules w h i c h do not a l l o w the " c u l t i v a t i o n o f genuinely mutual re lat ions" , H e y w a r d wishes that "those o f us w h o w o r k as healers - therapist, doctors, nurses, priests, pastors, rabbis , educators, m i d w i v e s - understand h o w b a d l y abusive we c a n be by w i t h h o l d i n g i n t i m a c y a n d authentic e m o t i o n a l c o n n e c t i o n f r o m those w h o seek o u r h e l p " (p. 10). W i t h her focus on the need for " m u t u a l e m p o w e r m e n t " , H e y w a r d sees "erot ic p o w e r " a n d the sacred i n the N i c a r a g u a n r e v o l u t i o n a n d i n therapy sessions as w e l l as i n 13 T h e mascul ine p r o n o u n was used del iberately as the psychiatr ic a n d psycholog ica l practit ioners were male i n i t i a l l y and the structures put i n place that continue are extensions o f this objective, separate, detached, mascul in is t professional paradigm. 56 genital sexuality (p. 2 8 ) . 1 4 She explains that " m u t u a l authenticity is the root o f . a l l that is genuinely m o r a l , creative, and l iberat ing, whether i n teaching, pastoral w o r k , or psychotherapy" (p. 183). T h e ethical quest ion then for professionals " i s h o w to embody our inst i tut ional power i n such a w a y that it is t ransformed into m u t u a l l y creative energy between us and those w h o seek our h e l p . " (p. 185). T h i s is done i n the "context o f c o l l a b o r a t i o n . . . . we should try to be a lways i n a process o f g i v i n g this p o w e r up responsibly , w i t h the he lp o f our friends a n d colleagues, let t ing it be transformed by the power o f mutual i ty . " (p. 184). i n d e f i n i n g mutual i ty H e y w a r d suggests " b o t h parties b e c o m i n g more ' z e s t f u l ' . . . m o r e deeply into the j o y w e k n o w ourselves capable o f w h e n we are i n touch w i t h w h o w e are created to be; brothers, sisters, friends i n the w o r l d " (p. 232). H e y w a r d feels that w e need to l o o k at h o w u n c r i t i c a l l y w e use the concept o f boundaries. Those m o s t i n v o l v e d i n efforts to curb sexual abuse by therapists and c lergy often tend to absolutize boundaries as w a l l s that discourage i n t i m a c y o f any sort between professionals a n d those w i t h w h o m we work . T h i s abso lut iz ing o f boundaries serves to reinforce the abusive l o g i c upon w h i c h the h e a l i n g professions have been structured i n the first place - that is to h o l d patr iarchal p o w e r i n place, (p. 186) Geenspan ( i n H e y w a r d ) comments o n h o w the professional ethics i n "seminars about transference a n d counter transference, interpretation, resistance, a n d act ing out" c a n stifle "the compassionate impulse towards c o n n e c t i o n that motivates people to b e c o m e psychotherapists i n the first place"(p. 200). Profess ional relat ionships c a n obscure the person-to-person c o n n e c t i o n that is where any real h e a l i n g occurs. T h e " ' N o b o d y H o m e ' " approach to therapy or other professional relat ionships leads to "the danger z o n e " b e i n g thought "to reside i n any manner o f person - to person t o u c h i n g - p h y s i c a l , e m o t i o n a l , or spir i tual - that might take place i n the re lat ionship"(p. 197). W h a t she sees result ing f r o m this is that m a n y professionals never learn "the art o f b e i n g authentical ly themselves i n a 1 4 H e y w a r d spent t i m e as a Witness for Peace i n N i c a r a g u a and was i n s p i r e d by the "ethic o f m u t u a l e m p o w e r m e n t " b e h i n d the fight for democacy a n d freedom against the " e c o n o m i c and m i l i t a r y hegemony o f the U n i t e d States"(p. 147-148). . . " * 57 therapeutic way - i n a w a y that a l l o w s the Patient to access her o w n inner authority rather than to rely o n the authority o f the P r o f e s s i o n a l " (p. 200). W h e n the designated c l i e n t ' s personhood is seen as a threat to these professional boundaries , the professional w h o has internal ized these rules feels d iscomfort a n d retreats. Greenspan questions "whether genuine hea l ing o f the i n d i v i d u a l is at a l l possible wi thout the h e a l i n g o f our cultures 's pathology"(p.205). She also looks at h o w ethics are pos i t ioned o n this patr iarchal , cu l tura l p a r a d i g m w h i c h "stems f r o m the fundamental d o m i n a t i o n o f w o m a n by m a n " ( p . 2 0 5 ) . H e y w a r d asks " W h e n lesbian therapists say that they, u n l i k e other therapists, cannot be int imate w i t h lesbian cl ients or former cl ients because the dangers o f sexual-boundary v i o l a t i o n are too rea l , do they not see that a l l l i f e - g i v i n g relat ionships are infused w i t h b o t h erotic power and danger?" (p. 171). She proposes that w o m e n struggle for r ight-relat ion, for "r ight , m u t u a l l y e m p o w e r i n g c o n n e c t i o n " that is " 'dangerous ' i n that it threatens to transform us and the ways w e love and w o r k " (p. 171). Those w h o choose this o p t i o n contribute to r e v o l u t i o n i z i n g w o m e n ' s l ives as opposed to those w h o chose "the safety o f separation f r o m sisters w h o they fear m i g h t love t h e m either too m u c h or not at a l l " (p. 171). H e y w a r d ' s lesbian partner, B e v e r l y H a r r i s o n , a professor o f C h r i s t i a n E t h i c s , comments on profess ional ethics stating that these require "above a l l a n abi l i ty to be deeply honest about our needs a n d a n a b i l i t y to meet others' feelings w i t h the deepest possible c a n d o r " and an "openness to re lat ional m o v e m e n t a n d change, so that i n concrete ways helper a n d c l ient become companions w h o can, together, reconceive a n d reconfigure their re lat ionship wi thout fear o f h a v i n g to c o n f o r m to stereotypical patterns" (p. 211). L a s s e n - W i l l e m s , a n E p i s c o p a l priest and counsel lor , another professional w h o responds i n H e y w a r d ' s b o o k , c lari f ies that the b o o k " i s not saying that a hea l ing re lat ionship is a l icense for sex between therapists a n d their c l i e n t s " but that it is about h o w "patr iarchy fetters i n t i m a c y ; h o w erotic energy, expressed i n h u m a n int imacy , is a n inherent part o f hea l ing; a n d h o w , i n our h e a l i n g roles w e c a n a l l too often take o n the mantle o f the oppressor." (p. 220). H e recommends that m e n abstain f r o m sex i n a h e a l i n g re lat ionship saying that "sex for us i n hea l ing relat ionships, has a different s igni f icance than it has for w o m e n because w e have too often used p o w e r i n our sexual relations to exploi t others' 58 vulnerabi l i t ies ."(p . 222). H e sums up what is needed i n a h e a l i n g process. "It does m e a n that honesty a n d openness about in t imacy , about fr iendship, about mutual i ty , and, yes about sexual feelings a n d their express ion must b e c o m e part o f our h e a l i n g i f w e are to open to Sophie/Sophia, a genuine Sophie v i s i o n o f h e a l i n g . " (p. 222). 1 5 S u m m a r y o f the Literature R e v i e w T h i s chapter has l o o k e d at the literature i n f ive areas: lesbian identity, heterosexism/homophobia, gender s o c i a l i z a t i o n a n d female d o m i n a t e d professions, r a c i s m , a n d ethics/boundaries. T h e first area discusses the lesbian identity process, c o m i n g out to s e l f and then others i n a heterosexist w o r l d . T h e re lat ional out look o f m a n y w o m e n , b o t h lesbian a n d heterosexual, towards their sexual i ty often results i n c o n f i n i n g this to c o m m i t t e d relationships. It is important to consider stories about l e s b i a n identity f r o m a r a d i c a l feminist perspective seeing lesb ianism as a n alternative to patr iarchal heterosexuality a n d restrictive notions o f w o m a n h o o d . I n the d iscuss ion o f heterosexism/homophobia, the concept o f h o m o p h o p b i a was problematized. H e t e r o s e x i s m and shame due to heterosexism were ident i f ied as important issues to focus on. Internal oppression a n d internal ized d o m i n a t i o n were concepts used also to identify the d y n a m i c s affecting our behaviours as w e deal w i t h each other i n a c o m p l e x stratif ied society w i t h inst i tut ional ized oppressions such as r a c i s m a n d heterosexism. T h e goal for each i n d i v i d u a l is to become aware o f a n d overcome our internal patterns a n d develop al l iances to other oppressed groups. It is c r u c i a l to recognize h o w s e x i s m , heterosexism, a n d r a c i s m are a l l oppressions that m a i n t a i n the economic/socia l/pol i t ica l supremacy o f the white heteropatriarchal elite. Lesbians profoundly disrupt the dominant heterosexist/sexist ideo logy as they step out o f the tradit ional w o m e n ' s role o f e c o n o m i c dependence o n and/or privately serv ic ing men. O t h e r research shows h o w lesbians evolve f r o m fear and h i d i n g , to take a proactive stance towards a nonheterosexist society. Lesbians d a i l y w e i g h the d e c i s i o n to c o m e out or not against fears o f j o b loss and/or ! 5 H e y w a r d uses the figure o f S o p h i a , w h o represented "Incarnate Wi|^grn"(p .220) , a n d Sophie , w h o was the name for the " free-spir i ted g i r l - c h i l d a n d sister-spirited w o m a n " inside hersel f (p.93). B o t h concepts were invaluable o n her h e a l i n g journey. 59 discr iminatory e m p l o y m e n t practices as w e l l as losses such as f a m i l y acceptance, custody o f c h i l d r e n , a n d a decreased standing i n society. These relations o f r u l i n g keep many lesbian h e l p i n g professionals i n the closet. C o n t r a d i c t i o n and struggle are constant themes for m a n y lesbian s o c i a l service workers as they m o v e between personal/public realit ies, heterosexual and gay c o m m u n i t i e s , feminist p o l i t i c s and gay l iberat ion. S o m e research has conceptual ized the lesbian c o m i n g out process as a second adolescence w h i c h m i n i m i z e s the role soc ia l oppress ion plays i n this sometimes p a i n f u l , d isorientat ing process that happens at a broad range o f ages i n lesbian l ives. R e s e a r c h has also revealed the benefits o f lesbian-ness i n d e v e l o p i n g advocay s k i l l s , or a n expertness i n diversity issues. These a n d other benefits o f lesbian-ness c a n be used i n w o r k contexts. T h e heterocentricity i n post secondary and adult educational settings, a n d i n educational inst i tut ional structures a n d practices, has been e x a m i n e d , leading to pract ica l suggestions for i n c l u s i v i t y i n a l l areas. In research that explores gender soc ia l i za t ion , it has been noted that society pol ices y o u n g gir ls to deve lop nurtur ing traits a n d to shoulder the burden o f c a r i n g for a n d about others w h i c h unfortunately results i n the neglect o f themselves. M a t e r n a l f e m i n i s m , w h i c h h a d a basis i n b i o l o g i c a l d e t e r m i n i s m , e m p o w e r e d middle-c lass , white w o m e n to m o v e out o f the h o m e and into j o b s that cul t ivated this c a r i n g for and about others such as soc ia l work , nurs ing a n d teaching (Baines , 1991). These female d o m i n a t e d professions based i n an ethic o f care are seen as semi-professions i n contrast to male d o m i n a t e d professions that eschew a scienti f ic basis, where ef f ic iency a n d order are va lued w i t h i n h ierarchica l structures. T h e female-dominated profession o f nurs ing is s t i l l s truggl ing to gain recogni t ion a n d monetary rewards through unionizat ion , f e m i n i s m a n d professional development. Issues around the mascul in is t notions o f profess ional izat ion such as object i fy ing the c l ient a n d increasing the distance between professional a n d c l ient have also b e e n studied. H i s t o r i c a l research has studied close l i f e partnerships o f w o m e n i n the h e l p i n g professions. T h e quest ion remains as to h o w to re-present these w o m e n i f their relationships can not be p r o v e n to be e x p l i c i t l y sexual a n d thus l a b e l l e d lesbian? ( M c P h e r e s o n , 1996, p. 186). R a c i s m is another important issue to consider w h e n studying- lesbians. I n the labour ' 6 0 market B l a c k w o m e n are often at the l o w e n d o f the pay scale. H o w e v e r they do have higher numbers i n the professions i n c o m p a r i s o n to B l a c k m e n due to their i n v o l v e m e n t i n the female d o m i n a t e d profession o f teaching. R e s e a r c h has documented systemic d i s c r i m i n a t i o n o f nurses o f colour(s). B l a c k lesbians are then caught between white r a c i s m and B l a c k heterosexism. T h e concept o f b e i n g two-spir i ted, attributed to some First N a t i o n s cultures, is a more f l u i d idea that sees lesbian a n d gay people by their spir i tual nature, often thought o f b e i n g " i n b a l a n c e " and leading to "br idge m a k e r " (mediator) c o m m u n i t y roles. Research into the issue o f ethics a n d boundaries i n h e l p i n g profess ional relat ionships has revealed mascul in is t notions o f profess ional i sm based o n the patr iarchal d o m i n a t i o n o f w o m a n by man. T h e professional is v i e w e d as " s o m e b o d y " w h o is to r e m a i n detached a n d "object ive" , thus d e v a l u i n g the patient to the status o f " n o b o d y " w h i c h leads to professional contro l a n d m a n i p u l a t i o n . T h e e m o t i o n a l connect ion , both erotic a n d sacred, between t w o people w h i c h promotes hea l ing through mutual i ty and authenticity is thus rendered imposs ib le a n d the status quo o f power is maintained. T h e suggestion has been made that lesbian therapists struggle w i t h their w o m a n cl ients to find " r i g h t - r e l a t i o n " by b e i n g honest about needs and feelings so that hea l ing a n d transformation c a n occur for b o t h parties. T h i s study o f s i x lesbian h e l p i n g professionals has been i n f o r m e d by the conceptual izat ions a n d research out ined i n this chapter. I n the f o l l o w i n g chapter, I r e v i e w the m e t h o d o l o g i c a l approach taken. 61 Chapter Three: M e t h o d o l o g i c a l Considerat ions T h e U n f o l d i n g o f a M e t h o d o l o g y " T h e overt i d e o l o g i c a l goa l o f feminist research i n the h u m a n sciences is to correct b o t h the i n v i s i b i l i t y a n d dis tort ion o f female experience i n ways relevant to e n d i n g w o m e n ' s unequal soc ia l p o s i t i o n " (Lather, 1991, p. 71). Lesbians have b e e n rendered i n v i s i b l e a m o n g w o m e n throughout patriarchal history. F e m i n i s t research that gives lesbians a v o i c e a n d corrects the m i s i n f o r m a t i o n about t h e m is needed. Qual i tat ive research, a n approach that has dominated feminist research, often uses narrative, instead o f numbers, to give descriptions and interpretations o f the people and the situation b e i n g studied. M y methodology, l i fe history interviews a n d a focus group, e v o l v e d f r o m a meander ing path through m y qualitat ive research courses w h i c h were i n ethnography a n d m y feminist focused graduate courses o n w o m e n , educat ion a n d work . E t h n o g r a p h i c research came f r o m the f i e l d o f anthropology a n d is n o w b e i n g adapted to other f ields such as educat ion, nurs ing a n d s o c i a l work. " E t h n o g r a p h y is part o f the interpretive a n d p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l p a r a d i g m w h i c h holds that reality is soc ia l ly constructed through i n d i v i d u a l or co l lec t ive d e f i n i t i o n s " ( B u t t e r w i c k , 1989, p. 26). T h e ways the researcher c a n explore, and then re-present, these i n d i v i d u a l a n d co l lec t ive perceptions o f real i ty, seem to be m u l t i p l e a n d v a r i e d H a m m e r s l e y (1990) states: There is considerable disagreement as to whether ethnography's dist inct ive feature is the e l i c i t a t i o n o f cu l tura l k n o w l e d g e (Spradley 1980), the detai led invest igat ion o f patterns o f s o c i a l interact ion ( G u m p e r z 1981), or ho l i s t i c analysis o f societies ( L u t z 1981). Somet imes ethnography is portrayed as essential ly descr ipt ive , or perhaps as a f o r m o f story-tel l ing ( W a l k e r 1981); occas ional ly , by contrast, great emphasis is l a i d o n development o f theory (Glasser a n d Strauss 1967; D e n z i n 1978). ( p . l ) Ethnography l i tera l ly means " w r i t i n g the c u l t u r e " a n d i n m y classes w e ta lked about the f i e l d o f educat ion w h i c h looks at c l a s s r o o m culture and.work culture. It occurred to m e that i f there was a c l a s s r o o m culture then there must be a lesbian a n d gay culture or subculture so I thought about ways o f invest igat ing it . " I n a n ethnographic study the researcher relies o n observation, i n t e r v i e w i n g a n d document analysis or a c o m b i n a t i o n o f 62 these to provide a n in-depth understanding o f what is s tudied" (Schumacher & M c M i l l a n , 1993, p. 37). M y course w o r k i n c l u d e d a n assignment i n c o n d u c t i n g field w o r k to learn about part ic ipant observat ion, a n ethnographic data c o l l e c t i o n method. I chose a lesbian bar as m y " f i e l d " and took m y s m a l l note p a d to l o o k for l e s b i a n culture. A l t h o u g h it was quite interesting to ponder the cul tura l meanings o f rituals such as a D r a g K i n g show, I wanted to explore other m e a n i n g f u l l i v e d experiences o f lesbians. C o n d u c t i n g interviews w i t h i n d i v i d u a l s about the importance o f the bar at various t imes i n their l ives a n d about lesbian culture i n general seemed to a d d considerable depth to m y participant observat ion f i e l d work . " M e a n i n g - m a k i n g is the heart o f the cul tural process, a n d the interpretation o f meaning—from a slight distance, f r o m one 's o w n perspective a n d never to the e x c l u s i o n o f other interpretations—is the heart o f the ethnographic enterprise" ( D a w s o n , 1996, p. 9). I attended another graduate course o n w o m e n , w o r k a n d educat ion a n d Conducted interviews w i t h two lesbians about the intersect ion o f their lesbian-ness w i t h their w o r k a n d educat ional experiences. T h e stories c o l l e c t e d i n these interviews seemed r i c h w i t h i n f o r m a t i o n about l e s b i a n l ives. Interv iewing is a s k i l l I have deve loped as a h e l p i n g professional but using it to e l l i c i t perceptions o f lesbian identity a n d culture a n d h o w this intersects w i t h the d o m i n a n t heterosexist culture brought data w h i c h seemed fascinating to me. I deve loped a p l a n to conduct eight interviews a n d t w o focus groups w h i c h seemed doable i n m y t i m e frame. So a l though m y intent was ethnographic i n that 1 wanted to a d d to cu l tura l knowledge about lesbians a n d their l ives as I e l i c i t e d descript ions a n d stories, I d i d not do the part ic ipant observation or document analysis that are s ignif icant i n ethnographic methodology. M y intent was also feminist i n that I wanted to create a space for the voices o f w o m e n , i n part icular lesbians, a m a r g i n a l i z e d group o f w o m e n , a n d b r i n g their stories to light. T h e researcher needs to "recognize the ref lexive character o f s o c i a l research: that is to recognize that w e are a part o f the soc ia l w o r l d w e study" ( H a m m e r s l e y , 1991, p. 1990). H a m m e r s l e y goes o n to state that the researcher " i s the research instrument par e x c e l l e n c e " (p. 18). A s I thought about m y p o s i t i o n as a lesbian d o i n g research w i t h lesbians, m y insider 63 status was obvious. I dec ided to use this ins ider p o s i t i o n and k n o w l e d g e i n the work/educat ion aspect also, c h o o s i n g to focus o n other lesbian h e l p i n g professionals. T h e depth o f the questions that 1 was f o r m i n g about gender s o c i a l i z a t i o n and career, c o m i n g out stories, a n d the impact o f heterosexism i n w o r k a n d educat ion, made a n hour interv iew seem too short. I made a f inal d e c i s i o n to do longer interviews w i t h fewer participants, the number hovered between 4 to 6, a n d o n l y one focus group. I c a l l e d these lesbian/career history interviews and only o n c o m p l e t i o n d i d I real ize they were very m u c h l i k e l i fe history or o r a l history interviews. " I f i l l u m i n a t i n g a n d resonant theory grounded i n trustworthy data is desired, w e must formulate self-corrective techniques that c h e c k the c r e d i b i l i t y o f data a n d m i n i m i z e the distort ing effect o f personal bias u p o n the l o g i c o f ev idence" (Lather, 1991, p.66). A n approach that addresses the personal bias o f the researcher involves self-ref lection often through j o u r n a l w r i t i n g a n d a dec larat ion o f one 's o w n p o s i t i o n a n d biases. M y j o u r n a l was used after the i n d i v i d u a l interviews and the focus group, to vent feelings and take stock o f what h a d transpired. T h e ident i f icat ion o f some o f the themes started through this discussion w i t h m y s e l f as 1 wrote about m y process/progress w i t h the interviews and h o w they intersected w i t h the literature I h a d read. T h e focus group w i t h a l l s i x o f us present, he lped to gain input o n the themes I h a d f o u n d i n the interviews. It also gave the group an opportunity to be part o f the d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g around the theme/issue o f h o w to c l a i m their lesbian identity. A s I was a m e m b e r o f the p o p u l a t i o n I was studying it o c c u r e d to me that m y story c o u l d add to the data. P l a c i n g m y s e l f i n the hands o f one o f m y co-researcher/participants to be interv iewed a c c o m p l i s h e d several goals. It p l a c e d m y story into the data to be c o d e d so m y curiosi ty about these differences/similarit ies was easi ly satisf ied but it was also a benefit to the research i n a d d i n g one more participant, one more perspective. P r o b a b l y the most enl ightening part o f this process was that I experienced direct ly the v u l n e r b i l i t y that m y co-researcher/participants might also have felt as I answered the personal and professional questions o n m y research guide w i t h one o f m y peers t a k i n g notes and taperecording. T h e p o w e r imbalance between this one co-researcher/participant a n d m y s e l f 64 was reversed for these t w o interviews thus b l u r r i n g the l ine between researcher a n d participant. I d i d fee l quite vulnerable a n d yet it brought me c loser to the w o m a n w h o l istened. T r a n s c r i b i n g m y i n t e r v i e w was another very i l l u m i n a t i n g experience as I l is tened to m y s e l f try to e x p l a i n to another person the distress and c o n f u s i o n that were the consequences o f the c o m i n g out experience for me. I felt very accepted b y this co- researcher/participant a n d indeed exper ienced this as heal ing. I understood exper ient ia l ly w h y "therapeutic" was one o f the words used by another co-researcher/participant as she descr ibed her i n t e r v i e w experience. I felt that it was an important t o o l i n ref lect ing o n the subjective/objective b inary and w o u l d r e c o m m e n d this for other researchers w h e n they are researching a topic that intersects w i t h their o w n experience. I a m also aware that i n m y case I h a d h e l p i n g professionals as co-researcher/participants so they have developed i n t e r v i e w i n g s k i l l s a n d have experience l i s tening to other's personal stories. M y purposes i n us ing these data c o l l e c t i o n methods was to l o o k for themes/patterns that explore the processes a n d meanings o f l e s b i a n realities a n d also to gather stories for others to read a n d hopefu l ly enter vicariously into these l ives . I also wanted to i n c l u d e the participants as m u c h as possible i n a co-researcher role w i t h involvement i n some o f the d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g process. A s a qualitat ive researcher there is a need to stay open for n e w a n d unexpected issues as themes arise out o f the part icipants ' stories. S o m e o f the issues seemed f a i r l y obvious before the study began, but as the c o d i n g process unfo lded there was the excitement o f w a t c h i n g unexpected themes emerge. L i s t e n i n g to m y struggles w i t h the theme o f ethics a n d boundaries one o f m y co-researcher/participant's r e c o m m e n d e d a b o o k w h i c h , l i k e one o f the goddess D i a n a ' s arrows, struck true. T h i s is a n e x a m p l e o f the give a n d take amongst us that is not usual ly f o u n d i n m o r e tradit ional researcher/participant paradigms. L i f e H i s t o r y Interviews A c c o r d i n g to M a r s h a l l a n d R o s s m a n (1995), "the l i fe history approach is used across the s o c i a l science d isc ip l ines a n d is part icular ly useful for g i v i n g the reader a n ins ider ' s v i e w o f a c u l t u r e " (p. 87). These authors point out the benefits o f l d e histories as they "attempt to define the g r o w t h o f a person i n a cu l tura l m i l i e u " ; "emphasize the experiences 65 a n d requirements o f the i n d i v i d u a l - h o w the person copes w i t h society, rather than h o w the society copes w i t h the stream o f i n d i v i d u a l s " ; a n d "are valuable i n s tudying cu l tura l changes over t i m e , i n learning about cultural d e v i a n c e " (p. 8 8). F o r feminist research they are " a w a y o f understanding, free o f androcentric bias , h o w w o m e n ' s l ives and careers e v o l v e " (p. 88). T h e y also suggest that " l i f e histories are h e l p f u l i n d e f i n i n g problems a n d i n studying aspects o f certa in professions"(p. 88). C a s e y (1993) quotes those w h o suggest that l i fe history and oral history are the same m e t h o d w i t h the former b e i n g the label g iven by sociologists a n d the latter the name used by historians. She feels though that " l i f e history research a ims to c o m b i n e d imensions w h i c h have been separated out i n other methodologies" (p.24.). M y focus wasn ' t as b r o a d as Casey 's , w h o requested her w o m e n teachers answer one basic quest ion - " T e l l m e the story o f your l i fe" (p . 17). I was more speci f ic about the areas I wanted covered but these i n c l u d e d g r o w i n g up female, d iscovery o f sexuality, educat ion and career d e c i s i o n m a k i n g , as w e l l as stories about their w o r k i n g l ives. Schumacher & M c M i l l a n (1993) i n a d i s c u s s i o n about career a n d l i fe histories suggest that these w i l l take two to seven hours (p. 427). 1 focused o n career and lesbian histories w h i c h took a total o f three to four hours for each w o m a n d i v i d e d over two different sessions. T h e participants were g i v e n the c o m p l e t e d transcripts, w h i c h had been transcribed f r o m the audiotapes, to see i f they were satisfactory. T h e y were i n v i t e d to annotate and/or delete anything f r o m their transcripts a l though they a l l w a i t e d u n t i l the first draft o f the thesis to make any changes. M o s t o f t h e m annotated their o w n words to increase their intended meaning. O n e w o m a n found the thesis draft quite " w o n d e r f u l " and stated she and her g r i l f r i e n d h a d b o t h enjoyed it. A n o t h e r w o m a n c r i t i q u e d some o f the conclus ions i h a d made i n chapter s ix and some statements that she felt d i d n ' t real ly fit for her so w e discussed these. M a t s u m o t o (1996), i n her study o f a Japanese A m e r i c a n c o m m u n i t y points out, " o r a l histories, l o n g a staple m e t h o d for the anthropologists, p r o v e d part icular ly useful for ga in ing access to the experiences o f people w h o left f e w personal wr i t ten records" (p. 160). W o m e n ' s l ives i n general , have been under documented a n d as busy mothers, homemakers 66 a n d employees, they have h a d l itt le t i m e to keep personal records o f their l ives. " O r a l history interviews provide a n invaluable means o f generating n e w insights about w o m e n ' s experiences o f themselves i n their w o r l d s " ( A n d e r s o n & Jack, 1991, p. 11). Lesbians have been doubly s i l e n c e d so b e i n g able to faci l i tate the t e l l i n g o f their stories seems especia l ly important to me. C o n f i d e n t i a l i t y T h e issue o f conf ident ia l i ty i n c o n d u c t i n g interviews w i t h lesbians has been a c o n c e r n to several researchers. Khayatt (1992) was very speci f ic about her need to keep the l e s b i a n teachers she interv iewed complete ly protected due to their fears o f l o s i n g their j o b s i f their c loseted lesbian identity was leaked. She i n c l u d e d a wr i t ten guarantee as part o f the transcript. She also agreed not to use the quotes i n any cont inuous way , thus not construct ing a personal ized identity that w o u l d be recognizable . H e r w o r k was done i n the early eighties w i t h i n a part icular ly vulnerable group w h o w o r k e d for p r i m a r y a n d secondary s c h o o l boards i n s m a l l towns i n Ontar io . R o s s (1995) o n the other hand, in terv iewed lesbian activists for her o r a l history interviews a n d a l l but one o f the o r i g i n a l members o f the Toronto organizat ion whose history she was m i n i n g wanted their r e a l names used. H e r interviews t o o k place between 1988 and 1991. " T h e y argued strongly for v i s i b i l i t y o n strict ly p o l i t i c a l grounds as a w a y o f lesbianly c l a i m i n g pride i n themselves a n d their c o m m u n i t y " (p. 18). A b r a m s (1996) agreed to her participants keeping their first names i f they wished. A s her study was conducted i n V a n c o u v e r , 1 was aware o f putt ing faces to at least t w o o f the dist inct first names. T h i s d i d not seem h a r m f u l g i v e n the nature o f her study w h i c h l o o k e d at the process o f lesbians as they m o v e d f r o m h i d i n g to a n activist stance. She advertised for w o m e n w h o were comfortable w i t h their l e s b i a n identities w h i c h of ten means they are at a stage o f b e i n g openly l e s b i a n i n most aspects o f their l ives a n d are therefore not i n j o b s w h i c h they fear los ing. I was concerned about the nature o f the p u b l i c service w o r k o f h e l p i n g professionals, a n d was i n c l i n e d towards m a i n t a i n i n g anonymity . I l i k e d the i d e a o f the w o m e n c h o o s i n g a pseudonym plus d isguis ing any recognizable characteristics a n d details but m a i n t a i n i n g 67 some sense o f a cont inuous presence to their stories. T h e hol i s t i c nature o f w o m e n ' s l ives seemed better served b y b e i n g able to represent the ways that the c o m p l e x i t i e s o f one l i fe intertwine and evolve ( T o m , 1993). A n o n y m i t y a n d conf ident ia l i ty was also a pr ior i ty w i t h respect to their place o f employment . A s I have o u t l i n e d previously , f r o m the first i n t e r v i e w through to the last interv iew these w o m e n wanted to c l a i m their l e s b i a n identity. S o m e , however , expressed concerns for others i n their l ives whose stories were entangled w i t h their o w n . Personal f a m i l y a n d w o r k secrets or di f f icul t ies other than the interviewees ' lesbian-ness were revealed i n these interviews. S o several co-researcher/participants wanted to be able to protect these signif icant others, the s ib l ings , parents, c h i l d r e n or co-workers w h o h a d their o w n secrets or di f f icul t ies w h i c h featured i n these stories. There c a n also be a delicate balance some " o u t " lesbians strive for, as they chal lenge heteronormativi ty and yet have a desire to protect others f r o m the v io lence a n d s h a m i n g that heterosexism c a n b r i n g to i n d i v i d u a l s a n d their fami l ies . T a k i n g a l l these concerns into considerat ion, I eventually thought o f a strategy w h i c h i n c l u d e d putt ing names, educat ion a n d professional roles at the b e g i n n i n g o f the thesis, a n d then presenting their accounts i n a c o l l e c t i v e non-ident i f iable way. T h u s , unless someone reading the thesis had pr ior knowledge o f the i n d i v i d u a l , it w o u l d be very d i f f i cu l t to place any statement or pieces o f a story w i t h one part icular participant. T h i s made places o f w o r k a n d other i n d i v i d u a l s i n their l ives as anonymous as possible. T h i s strategy was discussed and agreed to by the participants i n the focus group. 1 d i d lose the p o w e r o f a hol i s t i c l o o k at a n i n d i v i d u a l l i fe but the a p p r o a c h taken he lped to reveal a n d highl ight the themes that emerged and the s imilar i t ies/diss imilar i t ies a m o n g the co- researcher/participants. I felt that the segments o f stories were p o w e r f u l enough o n their o w n that the reader w o u l d s t i l l enter into these i n a felt sense. W i t n e s s i n g G a i n i n g trust a n d rapport, fac i l i ta t ing the f l o w o f stories that may be funny or sad, a n d general ly b e i n g a witness to someone else's l i f e , are a l l part o f the researcher role. M a t s u m o t o (1996) discusses the c o n n e c t i o n that she made w i t h interviewees by i n i t i a l l y t e l l i n g t h e m o f her o w n connections to the Japanese A m e r i c a n c o m m u n i t y she was studying. 68 My twenty plus years of experience as a helping professional of which only three were spent unaware of my lesbian identity established a similar common ground with my participants. Being a part of their lives in other situations or community groups was also helpful in establishing rapport. Matsumoto brings up another very vital point when she discusses how "emotional outpourings occurred for which 1 was unprepared" (p. 163). In Matsumoto's example her participants weep as they tell the stories of traumas in their childhood and she herself had to stop and consider how interviewing, in the name of history, may have some psychological effects (p. 164). She also discusses how this telling of traumas may bring some form of healing to her participants. "Although I felt leaden and depressed, the women seemed light hearted and cheerful, one of them whistling as she bustled around her house" (p. 164). This grieving process seems similar to the stage that Judith Herman (1992), a feminist psychiatrist, calls remembrance and mourning in healing from, what she labels, complex post-traumatic stress disorder.' Gays and lesbians have been silenced and oppressed, often suffering from the traumas of verbal and sometimes physical abuse. Talking of the pain of discrimination and harassment with its effects on their lives, can lead to grieving as part of telling their stories. Tragically, women often experience the abuses of childhood or adult sexual assault or violence and I was concerned that these may be painful parts of my participant's realities. Having had experience as both a counsellor and psychiatric nurse, I felt quite capable of facilitating any grieving that might occur and making any referrals to other resources if needed. My role in these interviews is a case of witnessing; being another human being who is accepting, respectful, attentive and fully present to hear their stories. Chronological order starting with their childhood seemed to be the easiest place to begin after the consent form was signed. I did find that the personal coming out story, the initial lesbian-discovery process, was always covered in the first interview. I had initially thought that this might be more personal and would be more comfortably told in the second interview. Possibly because of the trust already established or the centrality of the experience to their lives and to my research we seemed to move into this area quite early 6 9 and easily. T h e second i n t e r v i e w was usual ly m o r e focused o n the intersect ion o f lesbian- ness a n d career/work experiences plus e x p a n d i n g o n areas covered too b r i e f l y or m i s s e d i n the first interview. E a c h i n t e r v i e w was, o f course, a n i n d i v i d u a l experience. W e e p i n g d i d occur w i t h one participant as she discussed the d a m a g i n g consequences o n her l i fe a n d the l ives o f those close to her that ensued i n react ion to her disc losure o f her lesbian-ness. 1 was surprised to f i n d m y s e l f c lose to tears as one part ic ipant discussed a l o v i n g response f r o m her father as she revealed her lesbian identity. T h i s s o o n turned to laughter as I rea l i zed that I h a d been so caught up i n the story that I h a d not n o t i c e d the tape recorder stopping. A s this w o m a n reto ld her " c o m i n g out to D a d " story I felt tearful aga in l i s tening to her the second t ime. N o t only was this a p o w e r f u l story, but i t i l lustrates h o w di f f i cu l t it is to be l i s tening to fascinat ing mater ia l a n d p a y i n g attention to the m a c h i n e r y a n d duties o f the researcher role. M y j o u r n a l was the place 1 went to document, d e b r i e f a n d analyze these experiences. I personal ly transcribed a l l but three o f the thirteen audiotapes. I actual ly found that I enjoyed this process w h i c h I h a d i n i t i a l l y dreaded, t h i n k i n g it w o u l d be tedious a n d boring. I felt l i k e I was r e l i v i n g the interviews a n d was better able to rea l ly hear the content a n d nuances o f their voices i n the t ranscr ipt ion process. D u e to t ime constraints someone r e c o m m e n d e d a professional transcriber to m e a n d she transcribed three o f the i n t e r v i e w s . 1 6 Part ic ipant S e l e c t i o n I h a d p lanned to identi fy participants u s i n g a s n o w b a l l technique. T h i s means that one participant w o u l d suggest another l e s b i a n h e l p i n g professional w h o might be interested i n b e i n g interviewed. W o r d o f m o u t h i n the lesbian c o m m u n i t y , p o s s i b l y due to its history o f secrecy, is a c o m m o n f o r m o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n . I n the course o f m y d a i l y l i fe though, there were some i n d i v i d u a l s w h o asked about m y academic w o r k at universi ty a n d then either offered and/or were i n v i t e d to be part o f m y study. 1 6 I w o u l d suggest us ing a letter/contract o u t l i n i n g the parameters o f the w o r k w i t h the transcriber. T h i s w i l l give y o u some assurance o f conf ident ia l i ty and give clarity about details s u c h as equipment needed a n d the t ime/f inancia l parameters. 70 I wanted to have a diversi ty o f ages a n d r a c i a l categories to give h is tor ica l and ethnic diversi ty o f experiences. D i s c r i m i n a t i o n a n d oppression c a n affect each i n d i v i d u a l i n different ways but this also depends on their race, class and e c o n o m i c pr iv i lege. H i s t o r i c a l a n d soc ia l contexts are also at play i n younger or m o r e recently out lesbian l ives. I d i d specify h e l p i n g professionals w h o h a d an educat ion i n the female d o m i n a t e d professions o f nursing, teaching a n d s o c i a l work . 1 expected that m y interviewees w o u l d identify as members o f the m i d d l e class e c o n o m i c bracket but this can vary considerably depending o n the employer organizat ion a n d type o f pos i t ion i n d i v i d u a l s obtain. A s s o c i a t i o n w i t h m e n such as w e l l - o f f fathers or husbands is another w a y that a w o m a n ' s financial s i tuation or sense o f her class p o s i t i o n c a n be changed. H o w m y co-researcher/participants identify their class is re-presented i n chapter four. A s I began m y i n i t i a l interviews w i t h i n d i v i d u a l s that I k n e w f r o m other areas o f m y l i f e , 1 was aware that these were a l l white w o m e n . I began a s k i n g for names o f lesbians o f colour(s) f r o m others i n m y network. A s the study progressed I rea l i zed that I was h a v i n g di f f i cu l ty finding lesbians o f colour(s) and w h e n I d i d for various reasons they were unable to enter the study. I eventual ly became aware that the network strategy was not g o i n g to g a i n me the type o f diversi ty I wanted. Introducing a n entirely different s a m p l i n g strategy such as advert is ing through newspapers or organizations w o u l d not have been possible w i t h i n the t i m e l i m i t s I h a d set out. A l l together I asked seven white w o m e n a n d five w o m e n o f colour . T h e five white w o m e n w h o agreed to be i n m y study were a l l w o m e n w h o were i n v o l v e d currently i n other areas o f m y l i fe . O n e o f the w o m e n o f c o l o u r w h o I k n e w f r o m a previous s o c i a l setting, i n i t i a l l y agreed to be interv iewed but then c a l l e d m e to cancel . She expressing her fears around her lesbian-ness b e i n g revealed due to her solitary status as a v i s i b l e m i n o r i t y i n her profess ional situation. D i s c u s s i o n s w i t h m y committee members l e a d to a consultat ion w i t h a B l a c k feminist faculty m e m b e r . 1 7 T h e concept " lesbians o f c o l o u r " was problemat ized as it suggests a c o m m o n a l i t y o f experience t h a t d o e s not reveal the differences a m o n g w o m e n w h o are r a c i a l i z e d minori tes w i t h i n a dominant I w i s h to thank Y v o n n e B r o w n for her honesty, w i s d o m a n d constructive suggestions. 7 1 white society. It was suggested that I expand m y literature r e v i e w so that lesbians o f colour(s) a n d issues o f r a c i s m were g i v e n a v o i c e i n that way. Chapter s i x discusses race i n c l u d i n g whiteness as a cul tural ethnicity. D i v e r s i t y o f age was another issue. M o s t o f the w o m e n I k n e w or w h o were referred to m e , were i n their thirties or forties. T h u s m y network s a m p l i n g resulted i n more o f a homogeneous group o f participants at least w i t h respect to age and ethnicity. A s I considered the deeper and more intimate questions asked i n these lesbian/career l i fe history type o f interviews, a n d i n the focus group, I w o n d e r e d i f after a l l this m a y have been the most appropriate se lect ion method. T h e w o m e n h a d some l e v e l o f k n o w l e d g e and comfort w i t h m e f r o m contact i n other areas o f our l ives a n d this probably deepened the trust that l e a d to more open and vulnerable stories b e i n g shared. Focus G r o u p s A b r a m s (1996) i n c l u d e d a group session w i t h her participants after she h a d w o r k e d w i t h the themes f r o m their interv iew transcripts. T h e y developed with her a descr ipt ion a n d a theory/model o f the process o f m o v i n g f r o m internal ized negative attitudes regarding homosexual i ty , to a n acceptance o f themselves a n d eventual ly t a k i n g an activist posi t ion. A l t h o u g h I was not p r o d u c i n g grounded theory as she was, I d i d want m y participants to hear the themes that I h a d p u l l e d f r o m the data a n d to give their feedback. I was also anxious to see h o w the focus group w o u l d resolve m y struggle for ways to respond to their desire to c l a i m their lesbian identity. A s 1 shared the themes that emerged f r o m the interviews i n the focus group, I used co-researcher-participants' words to b a c k u p the themes, but d i d not identi fy w h i c h w o m a n made w h i c h comments . Somet imes they w o u l d say " o h that was m e " a n d e x p a n d o n a part icular comment , but everyone i n the context o f the focus group discuss ion, c o u l d stay anonymous at the l e v e l o f their stories i f they wished. T h i s was s i m i l a r to the p l a n I h a d for w r i t i n g up the data i n the thesis. B y i n i t i a l l y ident i fy ing them as co-researchers/participants, but not ident i fy ing any one w o m a n ' s story, or the identities o f the other players i n her l i fe or her geographic a n d w o r k locat ions, I felt that 1 h a d a w o r k a b l e p lan . I was pleasantly surprised at h o w q u i c k l y this p l a n became our agreement w h e n I presented it at the e n d o f 72 the focus group. E v e r y o n e felt that by reading over the thesis w i t h the o p t i o n o f delet ing or annotating any i n f o r m a t i o n , their concerns were addressed about other players i n their l ives , yet they w o u l d be c l a i m i n g , to a certain extent, their lesbian h e l p i n g professional identity. B e r n a r d (1994) states "the real p o w e r o f focus groups is that they produce ethnographical ly r i c h data" (p. 229). S o m e expans ion a n d debate o n some o f the m o r e relevant themes s u c h as ethics/boundaries, was e l i c i t e d b y the focus group a n d has b e e n presented i n the data section. Debate o n themes such as attraction to/sex w i t h w o m e n ended up o n the cutt ing r o o m f loor as d i d other i n f o r m a t i o n f r o m the i n d i v i d u a l interviews. I h e l d the focus group i n m y h o m e after a d iscuss ion about the pros and cons o f this w i t h m y supervisor. I h a d felt that the universi ty setting might enable m e to keep the discuss ion o n the topic and not drift to more s o c i a l items than i f I was i n the comfort o f m y o w n home. A l l o f the participants I k n e w from other settings a n d h a d b e c o m e friends w i t h some o f t h e m as the course o f the research a n d our other connections grew. D u e to the leve l o f i n t i m a c y o f the content and the use o f m y h o m e or the part ic ipants ' homes for a l l except three o f the twelve interviews, w e d e c i d e d that m y home w o u l d be m o r e c o n d u c i v e to sharing at this l e v e l i n the focus group. M o s t o f the t i m e , I was able to keep the focus o n the research. T h e participants seemed interested and probably stayed focused due to other t ime c o m m i t m e n t s later that evening. W e managed to cover the agenda, w h i c h was posted up o n the w a l l , i n the al lotted t ime even though w e started late. D u e to p r i o r c o m m i t m e n t s and unforeseen problems, a f e w people c o u l d n ' t m a k e it o n t ime. O n e o f the biggest obstacles h a d been f i n d i n g a t ime that was convenient to a l l o f us, a n d this t o o k m u c h rearranging, so I was very happy w h e n everyone was present: I h a d f o o d a n d j u i c e avai lable so that w h e n they arr ived, participants c o u l d he lp themselves so that hunger d i d n ' t interfere w i t h a group that ended at s ix o ' c l o c k i n the evening. O n e o f the co-researchers h a d b e e n able to c o m e early to he lp me w i t h the preparation o f f l i p charts and f o o d and to offer e m o t i o n a l support, a l l o f w h i c h i found invaluable . K r u e g e r (1994) suggests using name cards a n d p l a c i n g these, after observ ing w h o is shy and w h o is chatty, so that the chatty ones are c loser to the group faci l i tator a n d the shy ones across the r o o m so that eye contact c a n be made to encourage m o r e equal part ic ipat ion 73 (p. 109). T h i s seemed a b i t manipulat ive to m e although I had an idea l opportunity h a v i n g addressed a c a r d to each participant t h a n k i n g her for her c o n t r i b u t i o n o f t ime, stories a n d w i s d o m . I also wanted people to feel free to sit where they felt the most comfortable as there was a variety o f furniture i n the r o o m . I h a d a sense f r o m m y pr ior knowledge w h o might be more talkative than others a n d h a d been quite pleased w i t h h o w the group was p l a c i n g themselves but there was a last minute j u g g l i n g o f places w h i c h scattered this arrangement somewhat. 1 d i d feel that there was one quieter i n d i v i d u a l I neglected to b r i n g out either through the seating or i n the subsequent discussion. I w i l l have to test K r u e g e r ' s (1994) strategy for this at another focus group i n the future. D a t a A n a l y s i s W r i t i n g up m y impressions after each interview, k e e p i n g a personal j o u r n a l , a n d recording m y t h i n k i n g about the l iterature, were a l l part o f the data c o l l e c t i o n as were the twelve interv iew transcripts and the transcribed focus group session. E x c e s s data seems to be the n o r m as S c h u m a c h e r a n d M c M i l l a n c o m m e n t (1993), " m o s t ethnographic data is so extensive that several studies c o u l d be generated f r o m the data"( p. 486). Sort ing a l l this out started i n m y cognit ive process and i n m y j o u r n a l as I transcribed the first interview. Themes started to emerge a n d subsequent interviews revealed s imi lar i t ies a n d differences, some o f w h i c h l i n k e d to the literature I h a d read. T w o o f m y committee members sat d o w n w i t h m e to go over the first interviews a n d give me feedback o n h o w they c o d e d a n d what themes they s a w emerging. O n e commit tee m e m b e r not iced that I h a d asked about disc losure o f lesbian-ness to parents i n o n l y one o f the two participants ' interviews she h a d read. T h i s was helpful as I c o u l d then i n c l u d e a future question w i t h that participant a n d it was a reminder to be aware o f the need to cover the same ground w i t h e a c h participant as m u c h as possible. I a lso f o u n d that I was m a k i n g too many notes i n the margins as I c o m p a r e d m y w a y o f c o d i n g to those w i t h more expertise. " E x p e r i e n c e is messy. Searching for the patterns i n behaviour, consistency i n attitudes, the m e a n i n g o f a casual conversat ion, is what anthropologists do , and they are nearly a lways dependent o n a ragtag c o l l e c t i o n o f facts a n d fantasies o f a n often s m a l l 74 . sample o f a populat ion from a fragment o f h i s t o r i c a l t i m e " ( W o l f , 1992, p. 129). S o m e h o w researchers do m a k e some sense out o f their data a n d c a n i l l u m i n a t e something for others. H o w is this done? " C o d i n g is the process o f d i v i d i n g data into parts o f a c lass i f i cat ion system" thus "units o f m e a n i n g " f o r m clusters or categories ( S c h u m a c h e r & M c M i l l a n , 1993, p. 486). I used Strauss's (1987) c o d i n g p a r a d i g m w h i c h includes l o o k i n g for condi t ions , interactions a m o n g the actors, strategies a n d tactics, and consequences (p. 27-28). H e suggests reading the transcripts w o r d for w o r d to discover the deeper meanings that are i n v o l v e d and argues that i f these are relevant, they w i l l appear again as m o r e data is obtained a n d c o d e d (p.29). P l a c i n g a summary phrase or w o r d (a " c o d e " ) for the i n f o r m a t i o n that the participant is expressing ir i the large m a r g i n I made o n the right o f the transcripts became easier w i t h addi t iona l transcripts. Somet imes I used the part ic ipants ' words ( " i n v i v o " codes) or just words that came to m e w h i c h seemed to encapsulate the concept ( p . 33). T h e code c l a i m i n g lesbian identity started w i t h m y first i n t e r v i e w where the co-researcher/participant said I'm fine with my name being used. I mean this is my story and it is fine that I claim it a n d later / guess for me it is like lesbians laying claim to their stories so 50 years from now, 100 years from now, somebody is going to pick up this thesis and why can't it be my name? Subsequent interviews m a y not have used these words but the concept is s t i l l there. T a k e for e x a m p l e another part ic ipant 's comments that were c o d e d c l a i m i n g lesbian identity. / don V want to use a pseudonym really. I would prefer not to because I 'in out pretty much everywhere. I'm not in the closet anymore so I would rather use my name. W r i t i n g m e m o s about the emerging codes, or anything else that comes to m i n d w h i l e y o u are i n the c o d i n g process, is also a suggestion o f Strauss's that I f o u n d he lpfu l . It was s i m i l a r to the j o u r n a l l i n g process but more specif ic . I w o u l d write these m e m o s for e a c h transcript and probably the greatest benefit was reducing the amount o f data that I needed to l o o k at w h e n 1 began w r i t i n g the data chapters. I d i d use m o r e o f the part ic ipants ' words i n these than he suggests but I also wanted to have the participants speak for themselves as m u c h as possible. I was interested i n d o i n g a m o r e descript ive study rather than c o m e up 75 w i t h grounded theory w h i c h is a focus o f Strauss' work . " T h e ult imate g o a l o f qual i tat ive research is to m a k e general statements about relationships a m o n g categories by d i s c o v e r i n g patterns i n the data. A pattern is a re lat ionship a m o n g categories" (Schumacher & M c M i l l a n , 1993, p. 495). Pieces that d o n ' t fit or negative instances need to be expla ined. " A l t e r n a t i v e explanations a lways exist; the researcher must search or identify, a n d describe t h e m a n d then demonstrate h o w the explanat ion offered i s the most p laus ib le o f a l l " ( M a r s h a l l & R o s s m a n , 1995, p. 116). D a t a analysis c a n be fac i l i tated by d iscuss ing patterns w i t h others such as one 's research committee . I used the focus group for this purpose also. Researchers need to remember that " w h e n h u m a n behaviour is the data, a tolerance for ambigui ty , m u l t i p l i c i t y , contradict ion, and instabi l i ty is essent ia l" ( W o l f , 1992, p. 129). Inevitably the responsibi l i ty for t a k i n g a p o s i t i o n , for the f i n a l analysis or the descr ipt ion or the grounded theory, l ies w i t h the researcher. " W r i t i n g about qualitat ive data can not be separated f r o m the analyt ic process " ( M a r s h a l l & R o s s m a n , 1995, p. 117). C h o o s i n g the words a n d what to share w i t h others about the study is another analyt ic choice . There is a constant series o f c h o i c e - m a k i n g that is part o f the research process. T i e r n e y (1995) states: I f I have c a l l e d for narrative divers i ty i n h o w w e insert ourselves into the text and w i t h regard to those audiences for w h o m w e wri te , then I a m at least consistent i n suggesting that w e need s i m i l a r narrative diversi ty w i t h those w h o m w e interv iew, observe, study, a n d become e n g a g e d ; . . . O n e narrative size does not fit a l l (p.387, 389). I felt quite c o m m i t t e d to h a v i n g m y part ic ipants t e l l their o w n stories w i t h m i n i m a l interference on m y part. W a r r e n (1986) states " s o m e people feel that l i f e histories speak for themselves a n d that no analysis s h o u l d be at tempted" (p. 7). She gives the rationale b e h i n d this perspective saying " l i f e histories, l i k e creative w o r k s o f art, tend to be vibrant, l i v i n g materials a n d they are sensitive to over analysis a n d dissection. Furthermore, they cannot be m a d e to say what is not there; that is , l i f e history as data cannot b e f o r c e d " (p.7). A s I chose the themes and the segments f rom the interviews that are re-presented i n chapters four and f ive I was aware that I h a d already made some analyt ic decis ions about what to i n c l u d e and 76 what to leave out so some discuss ion seemed necessary around the themes that emerged. There were m a n y themes a n d stories w h i c h I h a d to m a k e hard choices about a n d soemtimes I felt l i k e the editor o f a f i l m g r i e v i n g over the fascinat ing mater ia l o n the cutt ing r o o m floor. M o s t l y I left out themes a n d stories that d i d not seem central to m y focus o n lesbian career histories. T h i s seemed unfair to the t w o lesbian mothers i n m y study. W i t h m y focus m o r e o n career than f a m i l y l i fe , I d e c i d e d to keep the f a m i l y o f o r i g i n stories only . S ib l ings were another large c h u n k f r o m several transcripts that d i d not m a k e it to chapter four a n d five. T h i s i n no w a y comments o n the s ignif icance o f these experiences. F o r one w o m a n c o m i n g out to her s ibl ings was m o r e traumatic than c o m i n g out to her parents. F o r one lesbian mother c o m i n g out to her husband h a d enormous a n d heart break ing legal , financial and e m o t i o n a l consequences. T h e stories o f c o m i n g out to c h i l d r e n were also ones that were f u l l o f lesbian l i fe ' s joys a n d sorrows. W i t h m y focus o n career I felt more c o m p e l l e d to deal w i t h some o f the problems a n d issues raised around w o r k and discussed these more extensively b y b r i n g i n g i n relevant literature either i n the literature r e v i e w or i n the f inal d iscuss ion chapter. M y academic commit tee also wanted m o r e analysis and literature r e v i e w e d o n some themes that affected these s i x l ives. B y i n c l u d i n g segments o f stories f r o m the interviews i n chapters four a n d five I satisfied m y need to give the participants their o w n v o i c e a n d have the reader enter v icar ious ly into segments o f their l ives. 77 Chapter Four: F a m i l y a n d Other S igni f icant Influences M y hope, i n this chapter a n d i n the subsequent one, is that b y g i v i n g space to the voices o f these s i x lesbian h e l p i n g professionals , I w i l l deepen the understanding o f their l i fe condit ions a n d the issues they continue to interact w i t h i n their d a i l y l ives. T h i s i n f o r m a t i o n i n no w a y is intended to be general ized to a l l lesbians or a l l lesbian h e l p i n g professionals. These are the stories a n d issues that I have fdtered out o f conversations w i t h these part icular w o m e n , at this part icular h is tor ica l t ime and geographical place. Despi te these cautions, I feel that I a m a d d i n g to our knowledge base. I agree w i t h E l l s w o r t h (1989) w h o argues for " r e c o g n i t i o n that, contrary to a l l W e s t e r n ways o f k n o w i n g a n d speaking, that a l l k n o w i n g s are part ia l"(p. 310). O t h e r lesbians, other w o m e n , other h e l p i n g professionals, a n d even the broad category o f other h u m a n beings may see threads f r o m these stories that c a n connect to their l ives. C o m m o n themes a n d i n f l u e n c i n g factors emerged i n these stories o f g i r l h o o d , teen years a n d adult l i fe that seemed to describe a n d inf luence the evolvement o f these w o m e n into the lesbian activists and h e l p i n g professionals they are today. I have tr ied to re-present some o f these important themes a n d i n f l u e n c i n g factors i n this chapter. D e m o g r a p h i c s A g e . E d u c a t i o n a n d E m p l o y m e n t T h i s group o f w o m e n were b o r n between 1950 a n d 1961 w i t h their ages at the t ime o f interv iewing: 37, 3 9 , 4 3 , 4 4 , 4 7 ( 2 ) . Despi te the closeness i n age these w o m e n h a d a w i d e range o f c o m i n g out ages (to themselves i n i t i a l l y ) , result ing i n their lesbian l i fe stories t o u c h i n g four decades. Y e a r o f c o m i n g out i n c l u d e d : 1 9 6 8 , 1 9 7 8 , 1 9 8 0 , 1 9 8 8 , 1 9 8 4 - 1 9 9 0 , a n d 1990-1991. T h e earliest c o m i n g out to s e l f was at age 18 a n d the latest at age 38. T h e i r ages o f c o m i n g out were: 18, 22 , 24, 29-35 30-31 , 38. C o m i n g out to s e l f is a n i n d i v i d u a l process a n d for four o f the w o m e n i n this study there was a lesbian re lat ionship that m a r k e d and triggered this revelat ion. F o r t w o w o m e n , there was a more internal process that revealed their lesbian-ness and thus the process was a gradual a w a k e n i n g that spanned a p e r i o d o f t i m e as the 1984-1990 and the 1990-1991 dates and ages 30-31 and 29-35 reveal. T h i s process w i l l be discussed m o r e later. 78 A s was noted at the b e g i n n i n g o f the thesis, there was a range o f educat ion and w o r k posit ions. W o r k posit ions i n c l u d e d teacher (elementary a n d secondary), registered nurse, soc ia l w o r k e r , nurse educator, instructor (col lege, university,-staff development) , psychologist , counse l lor ( c o m m u n i t y agency, co l lege , university) , e n v i r o n m e n t a l educator, athletic director and coach, and volunteer co-ordinator. T h e i r educat ional histories i n c l u d e col lege d i p l o m a s a n d universi ty degrees w i t h the latter ranging f r o m a bache lor ' s degree to a doctorate.- T w o o f the w o m e n i n the study were previous ly m a r r i e d and have c h i l d r e n . R a c e I have already discussed the fact that a l though attempts were made to f i n d lesbians o f colour(s) to participate, a l l the w o m e n i n the study are Caucas ian . I d i d k n o w these w o m e n previous to their invo lvement i n m y study a n d three o f the w o m e n I met i n t w o organized groups for queer populations. B o t h o f these organizations have predominant ly white members a n d a l though the issue o f the l a c k o f members f r o m other ethnicit ies has been raised, there has been very l i t t le m o v e m e n t towards any s ignif icant integration. O n e o f m y co-researchers is a c i t i z e n o f the U n i t e d States o f A m e r i c a l i v i n g i n C a n a d a o n a v i sa , w i t h the rest C a n a d i a n c i t izens , b o r n and raised here. O c c a s i o n a l l y d u r i n g the study, m e n t i o n was made o f E u r o p e a n backgrounds, such as i m m i g r a t i o n by grandparents. C l a s s G i v e n that these w o m e n were a l l w o r k i n g i n professional occupations, they c o u l d be characterized as m i d d l e class. T h e i r f a m i l i e s ' class seemed to be in f luenced by what their fathers' o c c u p a t i o n was, a l though their grandparents were often m e n t i o n e d i n a n attempt to sort out class pos i t ion . / grew up in a middle class neighbourhood. My Dad was a professor at the university. My Mom stayed home. . . . a lot of the mothers stayed home. They were all sort of you might call it up and coming middle class starting out.... My mother came from what I would consider a working class family and my Dad from a middle class family. It was just the beginnings of a middle class neighbourhood, a bit of a suburb. 7 9 A n o t h e r w o m a n sees w o r k i n g class roots as her heritage. I grew up in what I would now see as a very working class family. At the time I would probably have said that I was middle class but I don't think at the time I quite grasped what that meant. My mother especially wanted that image of being middle class. That was her want and desire but clearly a working class family. My father doesn't have an eighth grade education. My mother has a certificate to teach. In the fifties you didn't have to gel a degree. So my parents were working class and their parents were all working class. My father's parents worked in a saw mill and my mother's parents sheared sheep on my grandmother's farm. S o m e o f the w o m e n referred to a m o r e p r i v i l e g e d background. We had a lot of privilege in that my father had a good job and we had a cottage on the lake. T h e reference to grandparents also occurs i n another example . My father had a family business.... It was a business started by my grandfather so there was a certain amount of privilege in that. F a m i l y It was a b i t surpris ing to m e h o w s i m i l a r the descriptions o f f a m i l y were at t imes. G r o w i n g up i n the fifties a n d sixties these w o m e n ' s fami l ies were quite t radi t ional a n d heterosexual , the m a i n agents o f their soc ia l i za t ion . There was a s i m i l a r gender d i v i s i o n o f labour discussed. / was born in the 50's, so I had a very typical 50's family. My Mom stayed at home and almost like Father Knows Best on t.v., wore an apron and did the house kind of things. And she never worked when I was a child and my Dad workedfor (a company). He was always sort of distant and would come home and he was the provider and Mom was sort of the nurturer and took care of the kids. I think they were pretty happy during my young years. F o r w o m e n w h o are seen as "not w o r k i n g " , their j o b s around the house seem very labour intensive. Scrub the floor and clean the house and cook the meals and all that. Like my mother did all that, well we helped, we had chores and stuff. . . . My mother is kind of a perfectionist so the house had to be immaculate.. . .somehow it was chaotic but yet 80 it was silent too. It was repressed. We were kind of a repressed kind of thing, you kept your feelings in I think. But yet it was chaotic sometimes.... my father was there, he came home, he helped out, he had to help out but not emotionally there. He is an intuitive thinker, he's kind of a very intelligent, bright man, but. . .he's getting better in his 60's. 1 think he's developing a little bit of the feeler more but I would say that basically it was my mother and I when it came to emotional things. T h e theme o f repression is m e n t i o n e d i n someone else 's home. Yeah very repressed sexuality, typical of a catholic family, if you want to know the truth. Father Fathers often seemed to have a m o r e distant role w i t h i n this t radi t ional f a m i l y structure as they go out into the p u b l i c r e a l m to provide for the f a m i l y . I was surprised aga in at h o w s i m i l a r descriptions o f these m e n were across the interviews. E m o t i o n a l distance, e m o t i o n a l abuse and a l c o h o l i s m are mentioned. My Dad is very quiet, really quiet, not very expressive emotionally. A very sweet, kind man. I think he grew up in a family that was very non-expressive emotionally and that is where he is at. My Dad would do what Dads did in the 60's. He got up and went to work and came home. He was really good with us though in many ways. He participated a lot more than a lot of fathers around us. He was really good with little kids, but it was still a traditional delineation. . . . my Mom was a housewife. So my Dad was there for camping, those kinds of things, camping, swimming, skating, he was pretty good for that kind of stuff. But not great connecting with us emotionally as we got older. T h e theme o f father as e m o t i o n a l l y distanced continues. My father wasn't ever really available to me just sort of there in my life but not really available. And I can't say that he and I would ever have talked about anything. A n o t h e r w o m a n describes a s i m i l a r type o f re lat ionship w i t h her father. Interviewer: So your Dad is just supportive? Participant: I wouldn't say-1 mean he is not. My Mom is a more supportive person . period than my Dad. What I meant he never had any wild negative reactions. Both 81 my parents have been supportive in terms of facilitating access with my kids at their place and financially sometimes from time to time because I have had huge legal fees. I'm still paying them off But my relationship with my Dad is just completely different so it is hard to say. When I say supportive, yeah, in an indirect way. Interviewer: You don 7 have that much of a relationship with him or? Participant: Not at that level. It is more sort of day to day and he is not a talker anyway. T w o w o m e n discusses their fathers' a l c o h o l i s m a n d its effects. In my family my father was alcoholic and my Mom suffered more or less in silence most of the time. T h e second w o m a n states: / would sit and listen to adults. 1 loved just listening and paying attention too and my father took me everywhere. The down side of it was he was an alcoholic and a drunk and that was really hard cuz I was really close to him and so I got sort of all of this good stuff but then I got the embarrassment of him.... Being with him was a mixed blessing for sure but I kind of really liked just being around him and being able to do things and seeing things, hearing things. O n e w o m a n describes the way her f a m i l y r e v o l v e d around her father. She (Mom) would sort of say, "Don't talk to your father 'till he is done dessert". We were brought up to keep quiet and do not talk, do not make noise. Be quiet your father is sleeping. Your father has a headache. Everything was sort of centered around him.... Our whole family and what he needed and what he wanted and how grumpy he was. T h e role o f b i g sister is p layed out as one w o m a n tries to intervene for her s ibl ings w i t h her strict father. (I) protected them against my father. If one of them did something wrong, I'd say oh no they didn 'I do it and like protect them because he was so strict. My father was really an authoritarian. B u t she s t i l l w o u l d try and get his attention. / was. . . trying to get my father to notice me and he never did. He never even noticed me, so it was quite hard for me too, I'd be mowing and thinking so I'm mowing the grass and he would never even look up. 82 E m o t i o n a l abuse was also c lear ly o u t l i n e d b y two participants. He always called me- he always called all of us kids imbeciles. There was a lot of you know he called us his niggers - we were the niggers. He did a lot of that kind of putting himself up on a pedestal and we were the lowly serfs. There was a lot of that but I became more aware of it when we moved. I think that he had said stuff before, but I think that I was also 16 now so I had started to really challenge him. And then we would get into these struggles together. But before that he would just say no to me and I would go around sulking, but I would not argue with him. I would not argue back. 1 was afraid of him actually. A n o t h e r w o m a n describes a s i m i l a r l y e m o t i o n a l l y abusive father. So like I've said, I've parented my parents a bit. I can remember my father saying well if you can do it, anyone can do it. So he was very abusive emotionally and intellectually to me. He never did understand. He never will, I don't think, because we come from sort of different places but he was quite emotionally abusive. You don't have the brains God gave little geese, you don't know enough to come in out of the rain. O n e w o m a n also cites aspects o f her parents i n a posit ive l ight d e s c r i b i n g t h e m as a lot to live up to as far as role models. She goes o n to out l ine her father's numerous activit ies. He was always involved in projects and building things and making things and making money on them. It was kind of interesting although he wouldn't be one to tell you much but I could see all this going on. • He kept really busy. A n o t h e r w o m a n is grateful for her educat ion w h i c h her father provided. My parents only went to high school. They didn't go to university and they came from families that thought it might be a waste if you gave a girl an education but my father made sure we all went to university if we wanted to and we all did. M o t h e r These w o m e n felt m o r e connected to their mothers w h i c h seems rather typica l o f the tradit ional f a m i l y structure. T h e loss o f careers outside the h o m e is noted a n d so is the oppression they are ensnared i n at t imes. S o m e mothers are role m o d e l s and some have 83 feminist leanings. My Mom understood going for nurses training, she understood that, she could grasp that, and there was the security that there would be something afterwards for me. E v e n though this w o m a n states I felt like I had no support from my parents she does go on to say my mother was good about calling and it was hard to arrange that. The phone was busy and I wasn't there or whatever it was not convenient. O n e w o m a n saw her mother m o d e l i n g care g i v i n g for her. My Mom was a nurse and so 1 think there was probably a model there. She really loved nursing. She stopped nursing when we were kids. She stayed home but she talked about nursing. She loved nursing. She was pretty much a care giver. My Mom was kind of your classic female care giver. And.so I probably took from that when I was little. I did want to be a nurse because my Mom was a nurse (laughs). Yeah growing up I always had a little of that care giving philosophy approach to things and also I think that as I grew up I got from somewhere, maybe from my parents, certainly from my peers as a teenager, the kids that I hung around with, some basic sense of social justice or desire for that. A n o t h e r w o m a n also noted her mother 's loss o f career to f a m i l y l i fe . She stopped teaching to have kids and then couldn't go back to teaching because in order to keep your certificate at least in teaching you had to continue to teach.... she would have to go get a degree because now it was ten years later. T h e role o f oppress ion i n their mother ' s l ives is noted by their daughters. They (grandparents) were disappointed that my mother didn't go to university and she married right out of high-school. . . .My mother didn't go on but again for my mother's time schools prepared woman lo be wives that is about what I could see but my Mom was, I think, an okay student. A n d later she states some time in that year (I) had an aha experience related lo my childhood to how my mom had been just completely oppressed in terms of having no choice but to stay with a verbally and emotionally abusive man due to his alcoholism. T h e s e x i s m i n v o l v e d i n her mother 's struggle to g a i n a n educat ion was obvious i n 84 this w o m a n ' s story. Like her brother- they could only pay for one child to go on to high school- she was from a farm background- the youngest boy. The other boy they knew was going to be a farmer. My mother wanted to go to school so she went and was a maid at somebody's house. Room and board for being a maid and then she went to high school. The high school burnt down. So she went to business college and then she became a secretary and then she met my father. So that was it- but she always wanted to be a nurse. T h i s t radi t ional f a m i l y schema a n d its role for w o m e n d i d not seem appeal ing to some o f this study's participants. Marriage and children just looked like this thing that was an awful lot of responsibility. My mother felt overwhelmed with the responsibility. A n o t h e r w o m a n describes her sense o f her parent's marriage. He (Dad) would make fun of her in front of all of us and 1 have a lot of anger around that, I think that by the time I was 12 and 13 and listening to these conversations I was becoming politicized. I was mad at him, the way that he treated women and I also was mad at my Mom. I sort of blamed her for taking it and 1 didn't understand why she didn't just tell him to jump in the lake or something. I was really mad at her. I thought she was weak because she wouldn't talk back to him or whatever. Their kind of arguing was Dad would do the silent treatment for weeks and Mom would cry. I think that she was kind of afraid of his anger and he just wrote her off. You 're an emotional basket case. He could never like deal with it- the crying thing so . . . 1 would watch them and think I never want to be in a relationship like this or do this. S o m e o f the mothers seemed aware o f the oppress ion for w o m e n around t h e m a n d tr ied to m a k e things different for their daughters. My Mom was fairly feminist in her own way and she would always encourage us to be able to take care of our selves. . . .all these families in our neighbourhood that were supposed to be so stable and middle class, disintegrated. All the men were having affairs (laughs) and stuff. . . . there were all these women that were middle 8 5 aged and were left in chaos, emotionally and financially. Some did better than others in the end equation but most didn't do well. I think that that was what my mother was trying to protect us from to some extent by telling us that we needed to have something for ourselves. So we could depend on ourselves. . . . even though she was conservative in her own way and she was kind of afraid of the world in some ways- she did instill in us that you can have other than what you see around you. You can be a housewife but you don 7 have to be. You want to go play hockey? I'll go and get you a hockey stick. You don 7 have to feel that you are less than the boys. 1 think she had a sense of that because I think that it had affected her self esteem to some extent. I mean being a woman and being told that she was going to be able lo do only certain things or she didn 7 have the right to do certain things. So I did get that instilled in me on some level although sometimes she was kind of contradictory about it. I remember her standing up to my uncle and saying look my girls can go out and play hockey. . . . they are strong. E v e n though these mothers d i d not have careers out i n the p u b l i c r e a l m , their intel l igence a n d abi l i t ies were not lost o n their daughters. In fact when my mother started working at the X center that was unusual and of course she was really good at it. My mother is very bright and capable so she just took over and did really well at it. A n o t h e r w o m a n states: my mother sewed and made hats and painted pictures and just very busy and talented'too in her own way. These daughters describe h a v i n g more o f a re lat ionship w i t h their mothers, so i n the later sect ion o n c o m i n g out to parents, mothers ' reactions p lay a large part. R o l e M o d e l s A s has been noted previously sometimes mothers and fathers were ment ioned as role models . Grandparents were another source o f mentorship w h i c h was another surprise for me. Teachers and coaches were also s ignif icant figures i n c h i l d h o o d a n d teen years. My grandparents were working class and farmers but they were very political and way ahead of their times and so there was a really positive influence. I really do credit them for the birth of my social and political consciousness. I actually think 86 they were communist, but they weren 7 a member of the communist party but they were socialists for sure if not communists. And they spoke out and my grandfather had been involved in early union organizing when he came from (Europe) and was working in the coal mines in (Canada). O n e w o m a n found a safe haven and a role m o d e l i n her accept ing grandmother. My grandmother was a pretty strong role model. .. .the wonderful thing about her was she seemed so non-judgmental, I could tell Granny anything and she would just listen. She would sort of debrief me through it. She never got angry. She never said that is just not right or any of that stuff. She would just say to me well you know other people have other ideas about that.. . She would point things out to me. She did it in a very accepting way so that I felt that I could tell her anything. I could go to her house and just sit there and say "you know what my father is doing? I don 7 get this " and I could debrief through my grandmother. . . What I liked about her the most was she seemed really independent. She was a strong woman. ... to come to Canada with this man that she was married to but didn 7 really know and start a whole life here. I thought that was pretty brave and courageous of her. And she wasn 7 afraid of challenge either. She would challenge her husband and my father. My father would do things and my grandmother would say why are you doing that? why do you do that to my mother (her daughter) ? I really fell she had guts. She was one of the few people my father would stop and actually pay attention to. Like if Granny said you are being a screw up my Dad would do a second look. And he didn 7 talk back to her so there was respect for the elders there. I highly admired my grandmother. Wlten Granny said things like that everyone look notice. She challenged in a supportive way, supported my Mom, so she was a very strong woman. M o r e about grandparents w h o were inf luentia l : My two grandfathers, in their own way were incredible models, and they didn 7 do a lot other than just let me sit and watch them work. One had cows and was a dairy farmer and one was a business person but retired and he had a woodworking - 87 beautiful,beautiful thing in his basement. None of my sisters wanted to do that but what I loved was just sitting watching. 1 probably wouldn't even do much talking but just see. To this day I love working with wood in my hands and I have many good memories of the smell of sawdust. Teachers often were role m o d e l s for these y o u n g gir ls/women. The people who really mentored me were teachers and coaches. I was the kind of kid that was a nightmare for a teacher if they weren 'I confident in themselves. I would be challenging them and testing them but the ones that were good teachers and were solid in themselves and just encouraged me, I would do anything for them. I just really loved being curious and discovering things. I'm really quite appreciative of probably 5 or 6 people in my life- coaches and teachers would have been the big ones. It is hard to k n o w where a role m o d e l ends a n d a c r u s h starts, but this co- researcher/participant has very posit ive m e m o r i e s o f her grade four teacher. / was absolutely madly in love with my teacher and she was a single woman. She was single and I had all this fantasy about what her life was like. She used to get up on top of this bench and she would read us poetry. She was a short little woman and she was so powerful about it. I was like blown away. I can still see her reading the Highway Man and she just turned me on to poetry for the first time in my life. I thought wow poetry does mean something. . . . I came second that year in my class and I know it is because I worked so hard because she was so passionate about everything. I just idealized her. Independent/Radical/Leadership Qui te early these y o u n g girls seemed to l e a d very active l ives a n d showed leadership qualit ies often forg ing ahead, d o i n g things that others before t h e m h a d not done. T h e y pushed l i m i t s , sought out alternatives, and created n e w options at school . These characteristics seemed to start at y o u n g ages a n d cont inued o n to activist endeavors later i n adult l i fe . / found out that I was smart and I was a good leader and good at sports so I guess as I got more out of the realm of family and into school that's when I started to get more confident. D i s c u s s i n g her universi ty educat ion she states / was the first one- nobody else had gone on or had done anything like that. A n o t h e r w o m a n describes her enterpris ing leadership role i n her neighbourhood. / was given all the responsibility of the oldest. I was the oldest grandchild loo so there was lots of pressure in that regard. . . we had a basement turned into a play room and every summer I ran school. So all the kids came over and I ran school and they had lessons and they came every day. They had note books and all this stuff and then I would do a science field trip. I would raise money by going around just to all the store owners and saying I'm taking kids on afield trip and we need pop. I'd get pop and chips and treats and 1 'd get it all organized. Then I'd take the kids on this bigjield trip- scavenger hunt thing. Then they would have to do my activities or I wouldn't give them the prizes or the food. She a n d her f a m i l y saw this as bossy but I saw it as early leadership development. So I would be sort of in charge and 1 would be blowing on my whistle and you know like okay everybody be quiet. Toot toot! I would be doing the whole thing right. When I was young, I was quite bossy and I could convince people to do things. I didn't necessarily have to do the work I would be the organizer. . . and so people were kind of amazed that I would gel all this stuff'happening. These qual i t ies resurfaced i n h igh-school . / j'ound this teacher who took me under his wing and he said "why don 'tyou do a fashion show? " I had always sort of had an interest in clothes and fashions so he got me excited about running a fashion show. So I trained all these girls who were interested as models,how to walk and sit and all that stuff and wear these clothes. Then the stores joined and we went down and borrowed all their clothes and modeled them and everything. So 1 was the MC for that in my graduating year, and of course I got an honours prize in marketing. A n o t h e r part ic ipant created a n o p t i o n i n her j u n i o r h i g h s c h o o l that h a d not been there previously. Me and a friend convinced the principal in juniour high to let us do our home economics hours at a school for disabled kids. She also pushed unsuccessful ly at the 89 boundaries around the industr ia l shops courses. We asked to go into shops. We were not allowed to. There was a big kafuffle, like this was just not okay for us to want to do shops, because we were girls. O n e w o m a n sees hersel f as a rebel and reveals a n adventurous r i sk- tak ing spirit . / was just a shit disturber from the day I was born I'm sure-just pushing every edge, every limit. If someone said you couldn 't do it well that was just an open invitation to try. These qualit ies are seen later i n l i f e as these w o m e n take on activist roles not just i n the area o f gay a n d lesbian rights. /'m actually in a NAROL film-a National Abortion organization. F i n d i n g her w o r k i n g condit ions a p p a l l i n g , one w o m a n attempts to do something about it. I lead a union campaign the first year I was out of school. . . I'm outraged and livid and calling the newspaper saying do you know how unsafe this is and that is getting printed in the paper. Resistance to G e n d e r R o l e s Re la ted to a n d over lapping w i t h the above qualit ies is the resistance s h o w n by these w o m e n to the restrictions that societal gender roles h a d o n their l ives. Q u i t e early some saw the gender roles for gir ls a n d w o m e n as something they w o u l d a v o i d i f possible. M a n y earned the " t o m b o y " l a b e l as they enjoyed active games and sports a n d some t a k i n g o n the more stereotypical b o y s ' chore o f cutt ing the grass. / was very clear early that I didn't want to do what girls did because they didn't have any fun and they were always restrictions. I was always pushing the limit and so I was really quite close to my father and got to duck hunt and got to do all the things- like cutting the lawn was my job. She goes o n to describe her resistance to the stereotyped role for w o m e n . Stay at home moms, I definitely did not want that. 1 didn't want anything to do with that. I wanted what men had. I wanted everything career, money, car all that. I wanted the position that men had in the world. I was really quite aware of that early. I did not want to be treated like a girl which meant devalued and stay in the home.. . . 1 made a decision when I was 14 when I realized how girls got pregnant that that would never happen to me. T h e " t o m b o y " l a b e l was used by some o f these w o m e n as they explored the w o r l d around them. / guess you could say I was a tomboy at least that is what I remember about my growing up years. I always enjoyed building forts, playing outdoors, just being active and to my family's credit they just let me be. It didn't seem that there was any big issues around that and even though I was quite different from my mother who was very traditional. She didn't seem to hold me back. It didn't seem to bother her at all. T h e t o m b o y theme continues. / did find myself playing the tomboy role really to the extreme. I was always the father or the head of the household and 1 don't know where I got that from because I certainly didn't get that modeled by my mother, but I refused to do housework and I was like cutting the grass. A t t imes the resistance takes the f o r m o f f e e l i n g quite different f r o m the expected n o r m . There is a picture of the first communion of my sister who is two years older. Everybody is dressed up in their special clothes and 1 have my beanie and my plaid shirt and my jeans (laughs). When I look at that picture now I think I bet my mother probably just did everything she could to get me to change but she probably gave up because it was easier and I think that has been her experience. My experience was just feeling different from the time I was really little. . . . it is not like people want little girls to play with guns and go hunting and skeet shooting and so I persisted against the odds, tremendous odds probably. L i m i t e d Career Opt ions Despi te their adventurous spirits a n d resistence to gender roles, w h e n it came t ime to c h o o s i n g a career these w o m e n f o u n d that m a n y doors seemed c l o s e d to them. S o m e occupations were complete ly c losed to w o m e n and the societal options for w o m e n outside the h o m e seemed l i m i t e d to the stereotypical ones o f teacher, nurse o r secretary. So what 1 really wanted to do when I was growing up was be an Epistocopal priest. . ., and in die early 1970'syou couldn 'i he an Episcopal priest if you were a woman. It wasn 'I until 1976 that that was allowed. . . .so I had lo think of something else to do. .. it wasn't really an available option.. . . I don't think I really had a lot of options available to me. M o r e w o m e n comment: / think if I had had more of a range of possibilities I may have decided lo be a university teacher right from the word go as opposed to a Phys. Ed. teacher.... But in those days again girls mostly did school teaching, nursing, secretarial. A n d someone else states; You know, if it had been in a different time and I wasn't female and there had been other options you know I probably wouldn't have been (a nurse) but that's just how it happened. E a r l y L e s b i a n Awareness A s these w o m e n discussed their c h i l d h o o d s they a l l remember crushes and very close gir l fr iends. L o o k i n g b a c k a n d sometimes at the t ime, these were seen as signs o f attraction to other females. Obsessiveness, fantasies, hanging out w i t h a l e s b i a n teacher, l o o k i n g up lesbian i n the l ibrary, a l l point to a lesbian-ness that gets pushed aside or went unrecognized a n d unnamed. I had a best friend who I absolutely adored and we spent every minute together. . . . She got one year ahead of me in grade 8 and I stayed behind and she got new friends .. .we were still really close and then she went to high-school and well I've never known inside myself whether this was like the first love of my life or whether she was just my best friend. I've never been able to sort ofjigure that out, but I know that I tried everything-1 hung out with her sister, I did everything to get. close to her. I would come and see her after school and tell her these outrageous stories to fascinate her so that she would be wanting to be with me. And a lot of times I think that she thought I must be just nuts, but she was very patient through all of that. We had this rocky time in high-school where I had other friends and she had other friends and then we seemed to get back together in about grade 10. We got back as friends again. There was about two years where we were not really hanging out 92 with one another hut all I could think about was her and how to befriends with her. I was devastated when she was with other girls. It was traumatic, the worst traumatic experience . . . . 7 can remember us having baths together, and then all of a sudden we hit twelve and I started noticing what she looked like. I can remember lookinc at her and thinkinc oh that's what she looks like. I can remember her looking at me like I don't want to have a bath with you and she sort of put a stop to it. And all of a sudden I kind of got the message, really powerfully, that she was not into this and I was. . ; cuz she was sort of like no this is not going to happen and I was really curious - just thought she walked on clouds. A n o t h e r w o m a n was aware o f the nature o f her feelings a n d proceeded to the l ibrary i n her h i g h s c h o o l years for i n f o r m a t i o n o n lesbians. (I) had a big crush on my math teacher and some other crushes and certainly the feelings I had toward my teacher were more than a crush because I definitely had sexual feelings too but it was more like a crush. .. .1 did try andfind some reading material and of course it is very small town and a very small library. I think the library was only open one day a week and the collection was really old and no trained librarian and 1 remember that it would be just by chance I'd find certain books. But anyway I did try and find some books that had any mention of lesbianism. . . I managed to get my hands on something but whatever small little entry they had on homosexuality it was ugly. It was a medicalized model of perversion and sickness and so I figured well that, 's not true for me. The other thing of course was it was a stage- a Freudian thing about being immature so I accepted that that, it was a stage and it. was fine... .There were these sort of signs through my teen years, there was really no opportunity to pursue that. A l t h o u g h this w o m a n remembers a v o i d i n g dat ing, h a v i n g c lose gir l fr iends and even hanging out w i t h a l e s b i a n teacher, she r e m a i n e d b l i n d to her o w n lesbian-ness. I'd be beside my girlfriends in the choir right? My mother would say I would pick up sort of stray people:.. .Like I remember (hat one in the choir, her father beat her and I remember bringing her home and the bruises on her legs and my mother was 93 like, "what, what" so she stayed overnight at my house one night. Another friend 1 remember, she was really bright, she was in a class below me and.she was using drugs and I remember walking the streets. We went to a teacher's house and this teacher was a lesbian and actually, it's very interesting because she was close in age, like she'd be maybe 24 and we were like 16 or 15 , 17. Sol befriended this person and I took her, yes, my mother let me go out, it was a really snowy night and she thought I was going to this teacher's place. We went lo this teacher's place but then we left there. So I'm out on the streets with this person who was high on something and my mother was not happy with that teacher because of that. T h i s story is the o n l y one where there is an awareness o f a l e s b i a n role m o d e l i n the s c h o o l i n g years and the story gets f leshed out further i n the focus group discussion. / told this teacher that people said she was a lesbian. It was actually a very traumatic experience because we were at her house. There was a bunch of us. She had us over to her house. We just hung out, us students and this teacher, and I don't know why 1 told her but she cried and she went into the bedroom with one of the women that we hung out with following her. They ended up in a relationship: They have been in a relationship j'or twenty years but yeah 1 cried and went out in the street and was so upset. Oh I hurt my teacher. Oh my God. She had to come looking for me. It was snowing. It was just a big drama anyway. Other w o m e n remember early awakenings that became repressed u n t i l m u c h later i n adulthood. / know that my first sexual fantasies were all about women when I was just coming into adolescence. It was all about women, about other girls, and that really freaked me out because I already knew that there was something not okay about that. It just wasn 'I acceptable. . . . I remember hearing, it was in a health class or something. Remember when we used to have those health classes (laughs)? And we would talk about things like menstruation. I think it must have been in a health class or in our books that girls often get crushes on female teachers or other girls and not to worry as it is a normal process or it is just a phase. I remember reading or hearing that somewhere and I thought well this is okay so this doesn't mean that 1 am warped, that I am gay. I kind of comforted myself with that thought. So there is an example of me repressing my feelings. A n o t h e r w o m a n recalls her first awarenesses: My fantasies were of girls. I didn 'I realize that when I would go to shows and I only learned this when I was in my adult, but if there was a love scene I just kind of reversed something and they were two women. I didn't know that I was doing that but it was really funny that the male part of that would be so de-emphasized. It is funny what kids do (laughs). G e n d e r E m b o d i e d E x p e r i e n c e s H a v i n g a female b o d y c a n lead to w o m e n only experiences such as pregnancy and c h i l d b i r t h . These e m b o d i e d experiences a n d the indiv idua l/soc ia l c ircumstances surrounding these c a n l e a d to p r o f o u n d changes i n a w o m a n ' s perspective o n her w o r l d . Sexual assault is another e m b o d i e d experience that m a n y w o m e n are forced to endure that also can shatter their frame o f reference. F o u r such b e l i e f a n d l i f e changing e m b o d i e d experiences are discussed by m y co-researcher/participants. I've had an abortion but I got pregnant and it was like I know what the answer is to this-1 'in not having a kid. So (he) and I are not doing well in our relationship and I'm probably a little freaked out. I don't want to gel pregnant again... .It wasn't working as well as some sense of guilt that I had about the abortion and his hurt and pain about him not being involved in the decision because we did talk about that. It was hard for both of us. Although I don't think that I ever felt that I should have done anything different. That,was clearly the right choice for me and I think out of a self preservation mode for myself (l)said it's about me- that is the bottom line and if you can't deal with it is about me than let's just not do this. For me it was about it is not the time when I can have a kid. I don't think that I really wanted children- that was like a separate issue. I'm 21 and I'm going to school. Its like no and I'm not sure that you 're the person that I want to have a kid with and I definitely am not in a place lo get married although I think that our lives were moving in that 95 direction. Another woman chose a different option but this also had significant life changing events for her. / met him when I was 16.... And got pregnant when I was 19 and we got married (hat same year - we are having a baby, maybe we should get married. I loved him] but he was the first guy I went out with. The only guy I went out with. And I think part of it for me was -I was the boss in our relationship and I set the rules and needed lots of approval. I guess I was still seeking my father's approval and here was a male who approved of me and 1 was really aware of needing that approval. That is how to get ahead in life was you got male approval. It was really clear to me. . . . and then we had (a baby) and we were hippies and in that really hippy generation. So I spent almost 15 years smoking dope and being the hippy mom at home. Not working and baking bread and cookies and raising and home schooling my son. . . . I felt like I hadn 7 had my youth or something. I guess because I got pregnant so young. Her father's reaction to this event was extreme and also devastating The day (my husband) and I got married (my father) plowed the field completely with the tractor and hadn't come to the ceremony or anything. And he'd been mad at (my husband). We'd slept together before we were married and I was pregnant. So he was mad. He was sort of mad and then he thought (my husband) was really good because (my husband) married me because I was pregnant because you know women are supposed to be pure, right. He's a guy, he can do what he wants. Another woman finds that her pregnancy and subsequent role as stay at home mother left her isolated. / was always just out there just assuming that women could do what ever they wanted and doing it. I shouldn 7 say what ever they wanted. . . . so there was an aha after that-1 was at home. I had taken a year off. I actually quit after that year. . . and then all of a sudden I felt, ssshhheeee (expressive sound) cast adrift. Reliant on a man totally now. I had quit my job and had started to pick up small little things 96 from (my husband), who again didn 't have much more of a consciousness than I did, but he started to talk about his money as opposed to our money all the-friends I'd made were in the school system. Then I was off with a baby and feeling very isolated because most of the friends I'd had were still working. And I was home with the baby which I was very happy to be but I drifted into the women's center sort of looking for companionship, comradery and found it. S e x u a l assault i s , t ragical ly , a fa i r ly c o m m o n experience for w o m e n i n the patriarchy a n d it "had a n i m p a c t o n this w o m a n ' s l i fe and v i e w o f the w o r l d . It happened to me when I was living in (city). I was sexually assaulted. And that honestly, I think that was a catalyst for my feminism, to explore that more. Because I just had to look at the issues around what had happened to me because it was somebody I knew. It was a violent, intensely hurtful experience. And I went through all that classic kind of stuff. Like street violence for women as compared to in your home all that stuff that I had never really thought about. My world was really shaken. It went deep. And I started to lake it all apart. Who I was in relation to the world as well as within myself because it was my experience that I was trying to figure it out. Sometimes when you are doing that you start to analyze yourself and dig around a bit and get honest with your self and where you have been in your life and what experiences have been for your And in amongst that and in talking to other women, I just started to unravel my feelings about my relationships with men. Because I never was very satisfied with my relationships with men and what that was all about. So I think that. . . . shifted some of those-repressed emotions about women for me, strangely enough. Maybe not so strangely, sometimes traumas kind of make you evaluate things. A s 1 l o o k e d at the other two co-researcher/participants' stories I d i d n ' t see a s i m i l a r gender e m b o d i e d experience that h a d the same life/ b e l i e f changing consequences. These two w o m e n h a d m e n t i o n e d issues w i t h sexual harassment a n d although the harrassment was pro longed a n d serious for one, and a s ingle inc ident for the other, neither w o m a n discussed major l i fe or b e l i e f changing c ircumstances result ing. W h a t 1 d i d notice was that their i n i t a l 97 gendered experience, in their sibling positions in their family of origin, had lead to major decisions about themselves and their futures. They seemed to have looked at the gender roles being played out around them and made significant decisions about their lives. One woman was the eldest of seven children and from this position decided very early that the wife and mother role was one that she did not want for herself. I'm the eldest of seven so I'd have to say that would be quite important. Both my parents are the youngest in their families and so I think I was kind of raised to protect and care for them somehow. . . . And my mother's life. . Jjust thought when I was young I can remember saying I don 'I want to. . .I'm not getting married. Then people laughing at me, uncles, and I figured. . . marriage and children just looked like this thing that was an awful lot of responsibility.... the other children would come to me with problems and stuff'. I always felt like I didn't really fit somehow. I wasn't an adult but I wasn't a kid either. Being the second of four girls also had a significant impact on this final participant's view of the world. There were four girls in my family. I was kind of like the boy. I loved doing all that stuff and I was very clear early that I didn't want to do what girls did. Catalyst This code overlaps with the previous one in some instances, where women identify what I have called gender embodied experiences as catalytic in shifting the direction of their lives. There are other experiences that are seen as pivotal in changing life paths. We have already seen this concept of catalyst applied regarding sexual assault. In the context of feminism this woman deals with the trauma of the rape and moves into unpacking her repressed lesbian desires. Feminism was the context and possibly a catalyst for another woman's exploration of her buried same-sex desires. / guess there was a big click with everything so that was fine but that provided a context for exploring lesbianism in a different kind of a vein. Another woman sees her first lesbian relationship as a catalyst. It has always been really hard forme, because it was that first person that you ever fell madly in love with. I think I will always love her. . . . it was a wild time for me but it was the catalyst with which I changed my life. Consciousness shif t ing events , b e l i e f systems c r u m b l i n g , l i f e changing expereinces were important to these w o m e n as they attempted i n retrospect m a k e sense o f their experience o f m o v i n g f r o m a n acceptable heterosexual identity to the less c o m m o n a n d more st igmatized one o f lesbian. F e m i n i s m F e m i n i s m is an important aspect i n these w o m e n ' s l ives , first through discussions about some o f their mothers a n d then w i t h each co-researcher/participant, as she continues on her journey through her l i f e embedded i n the patriarchal culture. T w o w o m e n i n the previous sect ion m e n t i o n the catalytic w a y that f e m i n i s m , a n d the context o f a feminis t c o m m u n i t y , were i n v o l v e d i n e x p l o r i n g repressed l e s b i a n desires. T h i s t h i r d w o m a n h a d a s i m i l a r feminist then lesbian experience. 1 joined the women's resource society board. I joined the Peace camp. So 1 got involved in woman's issues and peace issues. . . . so all my life became politicized all of a sudden and I met a whole bunch of really powerful and strong women and I was just enthralled. All these women are so incredible. The women were ten years my senior and I was like oh my God, if I could be like that, if I could even be half that kind of a woman whenI'm ten years from now 111 be happy. I mean I admired them so much and they were doing some really neat things in (this city). They had all these women, 50 women together and they were all doing research in different areas. And they had printed some booklets and had conferences... .It was a very political time for me. . .. There were women at the women's resource society, who were lesbian and I knew them. I knew they were lesbian. No one ever told me. I.. knew that and then at the peace camp, I started to find out that I was doing a lot of work with lesbians. It just turned out that I would end up always being with other lesbians right. And I remember going to a conflict resolution weekend and looking around and realized that I was the only straight person in the room. Even the presenters. . .were partners - two guys so I was like oh why am I just totally drawn to this community and why am I here in this community all the time? A n o t h e r co-researcher/participant describes this increase i n lesbians around her 99 before she is fu l ly aware o f her o w n lesbian-ness. / was around lesbians. I was involved in women's politics in (this city). And I was around lesbian women and I was hearing about things and their relationships. And I started to surround myself with lesbian women more and more. By the time I came out I had close friends who were dykes, who were just waiting for me to come out. H e r i n v o l v e m e n t i n the w o m e n ' s c o m m u n i t y a n d d iscover ing that these w o m e n were lesbian was a surprise for this w o m a n . (A seminar) was very interesting and I am just fascinated by these women and their power and what they were doing. And I'm really interested in the women that are there: I remember writing a note to the presenters and saying that it was just great and one of the things I liked was the physical contact, the touching that was going on between these women. They would just hug each other when they see each other and talk. It was just great. So I'm going to that and there is this concert. . . . It's this women's band and there is this interesting mix of people about 100 people . . . . My therapist and her husband are there and a couple other people that 1 know and I don't think anything oj any of it. 1 think it is just great. Well it's a lesbian band that is playing. . . . So all these things are happening. The women doing these presentations are all lesbians probably most of the women that are at this seminar are lesbians. But I still don't have it figured out. There were t w o w o m e n o f the s i x , actual ly the same t w o whose gender e m b o d i e d l i fe experiences were less obvious than the others, w h o d i d not discover their lesbian-ness w i t h i n a feminist context. T h e y were both lesbians before they became i n v o l v e d i n any organized feminist activit ies. O n e o f these w o m e n spent some t ime w i t h a group o f lesbian separatists. / still stayed as a lesbian and a feminist all the way through. It was really neat to be feminist and a lesbian but often they weren 7 together in a public way. You didn 'l have a lot of feminist saying and I'm a lesbian . . . . but certainly a percentage of the movement in the seventies were lesbians. When you look, an example would be look at the shelter program. Lesbians have started off. almost every, the sexual abuse in 100 the 70's, the awareness and the advocacy for the shelter system around the seventies. As well lesbians were in the top in almost all those movements. It didn't become sort of an out issue among women and feminists until later. They are entwined but you very rarely had and I'm a lesbian separatist feminist. You didn 7 have many of those people coming out. I knew quite a few. . . . 7 was a sort of a radical. You know how in a social reform movement you have the reformist who say the system was basically not good but let's work within it and change it. And the radical's say the system is not working we need a new system. I was a radical and I think that this just played into this whole repressed hatred for male privilege. It just gave me a real good place that I could avoid dealing with men. I liked being a radical lesbian feminist separatist. . . . It was just working through a lot of our anger with men. . . . Let them sit al the back of the bus if at all. We were wanting to put them on an island somewhere (laughs). Interviewer: You would have a lot less spitting on the streets. Participant: oh God I hate that (laughs). That is a good example. Why is it? I played in sports all my life and I never have spit- why? Interviewer: I don 7 understand it myself either. Participant: Oh God and that is another thing I hate. So the most note worthy radical lesbian feminist that I ever knew was a professional in the city. She and her partner would invite all kinds of feminist, lesbian artists and entertainers to our city. My friend was in a position not to need men or their financial backing. So going out with her was such fun because she would be putting stickers on doors and just wouldn 7 lake shit from anyone. If we were in a restaurant we got the best table all that stuff that women don't ask for. Therapy A n o t h e r theme that runs through the l ives o f a l l this study's participants is a n i n v o l v e m e n t i n therapy. F o r most w o m e n , therapy began due to diff icult ies/ unhappiness i n l i fe c ircumstances not necessari ly related to their lesbian-ness. O f t e n though it is part o f the context i n w h i c h w o m e n discover their lesbian-ness. F o r one w o m a n it d i d seem to be m o r e 101 directly related to her coming out process and for another it started as an adjunct to her own professional development as a counsellor. / got into therapy when I was in nursing school. I did that because I was not succeeding in my OB.(obstetrical) rotation. It's like I don't want to go in there. I can V go to my clinicals. I 'm like so freaked out. I go but I'm frozen I can't do anything. I can't stand it that these women are just screaming all the time and I can V do anything. So I'm not studying and I'm depressed. Life is not going very well. So I get into therapy and I spend probably that last six months in therapy and my first year 1 'm out of school I'm going to counselling. . .I'm at really at a critical place in my therapy and so my therapist says find yourself a therapist when you get settled in (new city) so I do. And one of the things that feels important to me is that I interview therapists instead of just lake one.... I trust that process. So I call around and make some appointments and connect with this one therapist who's at the YWand her fees are reasonable and she wants to have an interview with me. She only does group therapy and she interviews people before they go to group. So she says in this interview that there are lesbians in the group and is that going to be problem. And no it's like it is not going to be problem. . . . So I'm in group.a couple months and there is a woman who identifies herself as a lesbian in the group but it is not till a couple months later that it dawns on me that the therapist is a lesbian This (includes an attraction to her first female partner) is all happening al the same time that I am talking about this a little bit in therapy and it's dawning on me and all the other pieces in my life are coming together and its like oh. Another woman goes to therapy with her husband and realizes that she may be a lesbian. / went to see a counsellor because I was quite angry and a little depressed (postpartum depression). . . . Any way we went to a counselling session. (The baby) was about 5 months old and the counsellor asked us how our sex life was and we both said not great. And I said I don 'tfeel particularly valued or appreciated.... then what I sort of realized right then too, if not before, was also I just think I'm 102 probably lesbian. O n e w o m a n f o u n d her i n i t i a l need for assistance never d i d uncover this basic issue, but she h a d therapy later i n her adult l i f e w i t h feminist therapists, b o t h lesbian a n d heterosexual. / was just getting worse and worse, sicker and sicker. It went through kind of a depressed stage where it was really an agitated kind of depression. Then there were these days where I slept. I remember one time sleeping jbr like 14 hours. I got depressed and just slept and slept and slept. I remember she (girlfriend) was having this party at her house and where was I? Why wasn't I there? I was too tired to come. So I was going through this psychological stuff that was taking place physically. . . .Basically I was having a nervous breakdown, I was getting depressed is basically what was happening. I couldn't cope with all this stress. My mother had to have surgery and radioactive iodine treatments twice. She was in isolation when that happened. Going to visit her, driving back and forth I was just a mess. . . ..after she (girlfriend) left her husband and moved in with me, I started throwing up. I would be ill like three times a week. It was almost like I couldn't swallow this bit of information. So it wasn't a lot of fun. She'd bring me crackers and milk. I was just a basket case. I even had an upper GI series because they were trying to figure out what was the matter with my stomach. I was crying, I would sit in a restaurant and the tears would just roll down my face. She said what are you crying about. I would say I don't know so I was just a mess.... I got so sick I could hardly move. So I went to the family doctor and I said, I need something and he gave me anti- depressants and that started to pick me up. I think I might have got suicidal after that once I got the energy but I had not told anyone that I'm lesbian or talked to anyone about this other than (my girlfriend) and some of those friends in the beginning and (my best friend), but she said it was just a stage. So he sends me lo a psychiatrist. I'd sit there and cry. Td cry through the whole session. I have nothing to say. We never get anywhere. He has me on all these drugs. In the meantime. . . I got this executive job and I really shouldn't have been working al all. I had it for a 103 about a year. But I really, wasn't myself I was taking all these medications that he's giving me. They would make me sick too because I'm really sensitive to medication so finally I actually checked in.to (a hospital) and I said I've got to get off these drugs. They did all this psychological testing and no one ever asked me if I was a lesbian. They said it was a situational depression although they couldn't see any evidence of it while I was there. F o r other w o m e n therapy was related to other issues and was not a context for their l e s b i a n identity realizations. / went to therapy when I was assaulted and that was a part of my trying to make sense of that sexual assault. Make sense of it as in not just an individual attack but kind of more societal than that. To some extent I had to go there with that because of the way it happened. Because it was somebody I knew. It didn 'I fit into the kind of you know. . . Interviewer: Man on the street Participant: Yeah it wasn V a fluke. It was very calculated. O n e w o m a n started, therapy i n connect ion w i t h her work . / didn't go to a therapist until I was in my 40's. It certainly wasn't to get over relationships or to deal with my sexuality or being a feminist or a lesbian none of that. I didn't go into therapy, when did I go, I've done a lot since, I was in my 40's. . .. .1 can cry anywhere now and frequently I do. I think oh god all the money I have spent so I can break down in restaurants (laughs). A n o t h e r w o m a n was focus ing o n her husband a n d f a m i l y , neglect ing her o w n development so therapy started her e x p l o r i n g what she wanted. / just started to get really stressed out and so I started to get counselling and so finally my counsellor said you need lo separate from your (child). . . .you 're with (your child) 24 hours a day. What are you doing for you? I started to think that maybe I should go back to school and so then I took the first steps toward getting my education instead of like focussing on (my husband's) career. T h i s chapter has highl ighted stories o f f a m i l y l i fe w i t h the inf luences o f parents i n 104 their tradit ional sex roles. It has depicted the character development o f independent, radica l leaders as the w o m e n discuss their acts o f agency a n d resistance to gender roles. T h e i r lesbian desires are noted early but then " forgotten" as most m o v e on to heterosexual relationships. S o m e consequences o f sex w i t h m e n are descr ibed by these w o m e n . T h e role that therapy and f e m i n i s m p lay i n a l l s ix o f these l ives is discussed. F o u r o f the w o m e n re- discover a n d act o n their same-sex attractions surrounded by the contexts o f f e m i n i s m a n d therapy. T w o w o m e n w h o decide at y o u n g ages that the tradit ional female role w i l l not be their destiny m o v e towards their lesbian-ness wi thout s ignif icant i n v o l v e m e n t w i t h m e n a n d before j o i n i n g feminist organizations or entering a therapy process. Chapter F o u r D i s c u s s i o n A s I e x a m i n e the signif icant influences i n these herstories, s e x i s m w i t h its gendered binaries , stands out at h o m e , school a n d i n the labour market. T h e mate/female,dichotomy w i t h its public/private gender segregation o f roles and its societal va luing/devaluing o f these respectively, is depic ted here. M o t h e r s are not iceably c o n f i n e d to the h o m e to care for a n d about the fami ly . A l t h o u g h these w o m e n see their mothers as major inf luences and role models , the oppressive condi t ions that surround their l ives are noted. S o m e o f their mothers gave up careers a n d others sustain e m o t i o n a l abuse as they stay i n homes that were androcentr ic a n d patriarchal . T w o o f the w o m e n b e c o m e determined at y o u n g ages not to f a l l into the tradi t ional m a r i t a l female role as they observe this r i g i d binary. T h e female care-giv ing role that y o u n g girls are indoctr inated into early, a c c o r d i n g to Reitsma-Street (1991), is ev idenced here also. B i g sisters protect arid he lp younger s ib l ings , w i t h one descr ib ing her successful efforts at o c c u p y i n g a l l the neighbourhood youngsters o n s u m m e r hol idays. A n o t h e r avoids h o m e e c o n o m i c s classes but assists w i t h d i s a b l e d c h i l d r e n instead. T h e lessons i n care-g iv ing a n d a b e l i e f i n the ethic o f c a r i n g is e v i d e n c e d early w i t h these gir ls w h o as adults go o n to w o r k i n the h e l p i n g professions. S o m e o f the basic feminist concepts such as equality between the sexes seems present i n the ideo logy o f the mothers o f the co-researcher/participants. F o r example , one mother insists to a male relative that her daughters are strong a n d buys hockey st icks for them. A n o t h e r mother talks to her daughter o f her need to w o r k as a m a i d to gain a h i g h 105 s c h o o l educat ion w h i l e this was f i n a n c e d for her brother. T h e awareness o f injustice a n d oppress ion o f w o m e n is anchored i n a personal w a y w i t h stories o f one generation to the next. S o m e o f the mothers supported the educat ion o f their daughters towards careers that w o u l d give t h e m f i n a n c i a l independence. A father also makes sure that his daughters receive a university educat ion that a generation earl ier w o u l d have thought a "waste" . S o m e feminist ideas then have made their w a y into societal consciousness i n the 60s a n d 70s. O n e co-researcher/participant is able to negotiate other options to tradit ional h o m e e c o n o m i c s classes but s t i l l doesn't gain a d m i s s i o n to the ident i f ied mascul ine area o f industr ia l shops. Resistance to the tradi t ional feminine role is seen w i t h some o f these girls attempting to disrupt the tradit ional boy/girl duties b y m o w i n g the l a w n . T h e assertiveness o f the independent, rad ica l spirit that is i n contrast to the more t radi t ional ly passive, supportive f e m i n i n e role is strong i n these stories. T h e fathers discussed here perform stereotypical " p r o v i d e r " roles and are often seen as u n i n v o l v e d i n their daughters' everyday e m o t i o n a l l ives. T h i s turns up the v o l u m e for m e o n the reason/emotion d i c h o t o m y w h i c h is entangled w i t h the public/private spl it for m e n a n d w o m e n . Process ing feelings is relegated to w o m e n and this e m o t i o n a l labour is devalued. M e n are c o n f i n e d to the more va lued , rational " p r o v i d e r " role o f w o r k i n g i n the p u b l i c rea lm. T h e emot ional d is tancing o f men/fathers a n d other gendered issues has been taken up to a certain extent b y the m e n ' s movement . Contr ibut ions f r o m this m o v e m e n t that examine a n d strategize around an enlarged a n d n e w male/father role , are discussed further i n chapter s ix . T h e si lence a n d i n v i s i b i l i t y o f o lder lesbians is noted w i t h o n l y one w o m a n aware o f a lesbian role m o d e l , a teacher, d u r i n g her teenage years. L e t t i n g this secret out o f the bag to her favorite teacher leads to tears for both parties a n d is never discussed again. T h e role m o d e l i n g and inf luence o f grandparents i n these y o u n g l ives was a surprise to m e a n d a reminder o f the remnants o f the extended f a m i l y structures that were s t i l l intact i n N o r t h A m e r i c a n c o m m u n i t i e s i n the fifties and sixties. Y o u n g e r w o m e n whose fami l ies have b e e n affected by increas ing m o b i l i t y a n d more nuclear f a m i l y situations may not have h a d the benefit o f k n o w i n g grandparents as int imately . 106 I wonder i f I h a d obtained more diversi ty o f ethnicit ies i n m y study w o u l d there also have been a n increase seen i n the inf luence o f extended f a m i l y structures. C o l l i n s (1991) reminds us o f h o w l e a v i n g out b l a c k w o m e n ' s experience c a n miss the " w o r k i n g s o f race, gender a n d class oppress ion i n shaping f a m i l y l i f e " (p.52). She states : S i m i l a r l y , s o c i o l o g i c a l generalizations about fami l ies that d o not account for B l a c k w o m e n ' s experience w i l l t a i l to s h o w h o w the public/private spl i t shaping h o u s e h o l d composi t ions varies across soc ia l and class groupings, h o w racial/ethnic f a m i l y members are di f ferent ia l ly integrated into wage labour, a n d h o w f a m i l i e s alter their household structure i n response to changing p o l i t i c a l economies (e.g., a d d i n g m o r e people a n d b e c o m i n g extended, fragmenting a n d b e c o m i n g female-headed, a n d m i g r a t i n g to locate better opportunities), (p. 52) M y participants h a d f a m i l y structures w h i c h were fa i r ly s i m i l a r , w i t h white , m i d d l e class and N o r t h A m e r i c a n b e i n g the obvious descriptors, a l though there was some v a r i a t i o n o n the theme o f class w i t h w o r k i n g class m e n t i o n e d a n d conversely some d i s c u s s i o n o f pr iv i lege. T h e societa l labour market sex segregation discussed by K e m p (1994) is reflected i n the co-researcher/participants' perceptions o f the l i m i t e d career choices avai lable to them. O n e w o m a n i n m y study spoke of.barriers to r e a l i z i n g her dream o f b e c o m i n g an E p i s c o p a l i a n priest due to patr iarchal ideas that denied w o m e n a p lace i n this pos i ton o f congregational leadership. F e m i n i s m a n d therapy seem c l o s e l y l i n k e d i n four o f the stories I recorded. T h e theme o f gender e m b o d i e d experiences a n d the theme o f catalyst are also over lapping , w i t h each other a n d w i t h the f e m i n i s m a n d therapy themes. L i f e history interviews give a m o r e h o l i s t i c v i e w o f the l ives o f those b e i n g studied. B y p u l l i n g out part icular themes I have attempted to untangle the c o m p l e x i t i e s , but it is necessary to remember that events i n peoples ' l ives are layered, ever changing and interactive. N o n e o f the co-researcher/participants use the term consciousness ra i s ing to describe this increase i n their feminist awareness. It seems obvious though, as they discuss their invo lvement in a w o m e n ' s resource society, attendance at a seminar w i t h a l l w o m e n 107 speakers, or d r o p p i n g i n to the l o c a l w o m a n ' s center, that their consciousness was changing. F e m i n i s m a n d therapy appear to be transformative forces for those w h o h a d longer term heterosexual relat ionships a n d their lesbian-ness comes b u b b l i n g up to the surface i n one or b o t h o f these contexts. Four out o f the s i x w o m e n uncover their lesbian-ness surrounded by this therapy/feminism c o m b i n a t i o n . E v e n though lesbians have b e e n very prominent i n early grassroots feminist causes, f e m i n i s m has been notably heterosexist. T h i s p r o b l e m was not e x a m i n e d u n t i l the second w a v e o f f e m i n i s m w i t h publ icat ions such as A d r i e n n e R i c h ' s (1980) l a n d m a r k essay o n the c o m p u l s o r y nature o f heterosexism. O n e o f m y co-researcher/participants was aware o f her lesbian-ness f r o m 1968 o n w a r d a n d i n her d i s c u s s i o n o f par t ic ipat ion i n mainstream f e m i n i s m , w e hear o f the uncomfortableness and si lence around lesbian-ness that was part o f the 70's movement . T h i s w o m a n , for a t ime, becomes part o f a group o f separatist lesbian feminists and describes their woman-centered activit ies unencumbered b y a heterosexist focus. M o v i n g towards organized feminist act ivit ies for three w o m e n i n the study was part o f a therapy init iated self- explorat ion process: Three others wander into feminis t activit ies outside o f or pr ior to involvement i n therapy. G e n d e r e d e m b o d i e d experiences such as pregnancies, m o t h e r h o o d and sexual assault a lso are part o f these w o m e n ' s herstories a n d can often be catalysts for t h e m to reassess their l ives and quest ion their gendered roles a n d relationships. These stories caused m e to reflect o n h o w the s o c i a l mores/norms a n d the relations o f r u l i n g ( S m i t h , 1990) are unsupportive and detr imental to w o m e n ' s l ives . D e a l i n g w i t h the aftermath o f sexual experiences w i t h m e n , whether consensual or not ( i n the case o f the assault), c a n enta i l consequences that are often j u d g e d or c o n d e m n e d b y others. T a k e for e x a m p l e the w o m a n i n this study w h o marries due to a pregnancy a n d she is then s h a m e d a n d c o n d e m n e d by her father w h o demonstrates h is feelings b y not attending the wedding . B e c o m i n g pregnant w h e n she is s t i l l i n v o l v e d i n s c h o o l i n g a n d not interested i n marriage, leads to the c h o i c e o f abort ion for one o f the other co-researcher/participants. T h i s d e c i s i o n is not l o o k e d o n favourably b y her b o y f r i e n d a n d she feels somewhat gui l ty about the unilateralness o f her process but k n o w s the choice o f abortion was right for her. O n e co-researcher/participant 108 discusses c a r i n g for a b a b y at h o m e , fee l ing isolated a n d f i n a n c i a l l y dependent o n her husband because she gave u p her j o b w h i c h h a d i n c l u d e d a s o c i a l network o f friends. H e r husband was able to cont inue i n his j o b , k e e p i n g h is seniority a n d s o c i a l networks. T h i s m o v e t o w a r d tradi t ional roles for husband a n d w i f e a n d the d e v a l u i n g o f c a r i n g for c h i l d r e n is reflected i n the husband's reference to " h i s " money. A sexual assault was shattering to one w o m a n . T h i s horr ib le t rauma l e d this co-researcher/participant to deconstruct the m y t h o l o g y o f a "safe, c i v i l i z e d society". These experiences seem a v a r i a t i o n on the concept o f "s tructural rupture points" that F o r n o w and C o o k (1991) discuss where " s o c i a l actors c o m m o n l y forge n e w aspects o f their ident i ty" (p. 4). T h e c o m i n g out process i t s e l f is a "s tructural rupture p o i n t " but the gender e m b o d i e d experiences here are ones that occur pr ior to this major transit ion i n identity. B r i s k i n (1990) discusses the contradict ions that w o m e n face as they attempt to l i v e out their expected roles i n a sexist w o r l d . These gender e m b o d i e d experiences are t imes w h e n these w o m e n felt personal ly the effects o f these contradictory messages. T h e y seem to catch a g l impse o f the u n d e r l y i n g agenda, the " p r o m o t i o n o f white m a l e and m i d d l e class interests" (p. 9). T w o w o m e n ini t iated therapy a r o u n d these gender e m b o d i e d experiences a n d another w o m a n was already i n v o l v e d i n a therapy process at the t ime. T h e therapy that these w o m e n discuss seems to be inf luenced b y a feminist perspective. O n e w o m a n though recounts her i n i t i a l encounter w i t h health care professionals i n a m o r e tradit ional m e d i c a l m o d e l approach. She is g i v e n m e d i c a t i o n for her symptoms, d iagnosed w i t h depression a n d does not reveal nor is questioned about her sexuality w h i c h happened to be one o f her core issues. A l t h o u g h these stories were i n past decades I w o u l d l i k e to m a k e the point that this m e d i c a l m o d e l o f psychiatry is very m u c h a l ive i n the 90s. I n m y extensive twenty-f ive year experience i n numerous psychiatr ic fac i l i t ies i n at least three provinces i n C a n a d a , f e m i n i s m is s t i l l the " f ' w o r d i n some m e d i c a l settings a n d symptoms are s t i l l d iagnosed a n d treated largely b y measures s u c h as pharmacotherapy a n d e lectroconvuls ive therapy. T h e fact that a w o m a n was sexual ly abused i n her c h i l d h o o d , or that she is s truggl ing w i t h her lesbian identity, or that she is a single mother l i v i n g i n 109 poverty, or is i n an emot ional ly abusive marriage, w i l l most l i k e l y not be the basis o f the treatment given. In the interdisc ip l inary treatment systems o f psychiatric/psychology/nursing/social w o r k there are pockets o f feminists w h o are aware o f soc ia l a n d e c o n o m i c oppression a n d the role these p lay i n w o m e n ' s distress a n d dis-ease. T h e patr iarchal m e d i c a l m o d e l though is very entrenched a n d has considerable socia l/economic p o w e r so this often remains the r u l i n g ideology. T h e roots o f this professional p o w e r d y n a m i c are documented i n chapter two i n the d iscuss ion o n female d o m i n a t e d professions. Feminists have e x a m i n e d the "negative effects o f female s o c i a l i z a t i o n o n m e n t a l health, the d i s c r i m i n a t i o n against w o m e n inherent i n t radi t ional psycholog ica l a n d psychiatr ic models o f h u m a n development, a n d the negative impact o f the menta l heal th profession o n w o m e n seeking treatment" ( D a v i d , 1975). T h i s w o r k b y feminists over several decades w o u l d hopeful ly inf luence the treatment w o m e n receive today. I th ink that i n some places and situations it has, but w o r k i n g i n numerous psychiatr ic inpatient a n d outpatient fac i l i t ies a n d i n c o m m u n i t y agencies, I k n o w that i t is s t i l l often a non-feminist perspective that greets those w h o need to seek therapy i n m a n y government f inanced institutions. T h e m i d d l e class s i tuat ion o f the w o m e n i n this study leads t h e m to be able to afford a therapist o f choice w h o may actual ly assist w i t h these issues and not one that is " o n the gravy t r a i n " , trained and w o r k i n g v i a a m o d e l entrenched i n m a i n t a i n i n g the status q u o . 1 8 Therapy is often an i n d i v i d u a l and private enterprise as opposed to the more societal f o c u s e d c o m m u n i t y groups that f e m i n i s m ini t iated i n some areas i n its early consciousness r a i s i n g efforts. Therapy is n o w a more accepted w a y o f dea l ing w i t h l i f e ' s problems and an important strategy/intervention for w o m e n d e a l i n g w i t h w i t h m a n y issues, for example , the post-traumatic stress o f sexual assault o r the c o m p l e x post-traumatic stress o f incest ( H e r m a n , 1.992). T h e i n c l u s i o n o f p o l i t i c a l a n d c o m m u n i t y change is very m u c h a necessity 1 8 A c l ient o f m i n e sarcast ical ly refers to the government pa id psychiatrists and psychologists that she has encountered i n l o o k i n g for help as " b e i n g o n the gravy t r a i n " w h i c h shows her insight into the socia l/pol i t ical/economic condi t ions o f the current institutions. 110 as w e l l . F e m i n i s t psychotherapist Sara D a v i d (1975) comments "because w o m e n experience so m a n y o f the same conf l ic ts , I feel that w o r k i n g i n groups is more effective than i n d i v i d u a l c o u n s e l l i n g " (p. 173). I n this study there was m e n t i o n o f feminist therapists w h o suggest their c l ients attend a w o m e n ' s seminar or w h o w i l l conduct therapy for w o m e n o n l y i n groups. F e m i n i s t s i n v o l v e d i n the h e l p i n g professions continue to strategize around this interplay between h e l p i n g the i n d i v i d u a l w o u n d e d b y a sexist, heterosexist, classist, ableist a n d racist culture a n d w o r k i n g t o w a r d p o l i t i c a l change o f that dis-eased culture a n d its systems. T h e t w o w o m e n i n this study w h o have the least amount o f heterosexual i n v o l v e m e n t and w h o dec ided at early ages to stay out o f the t radi t ional female mar i ta l ro le , d i d not fit into this theme o f gender e m b o d i e d experiences as easily. T h e i r invo lvement w i t h f e m i n i s m is not l i n k e d to their i n i t i a t i o n into therapy nor to their awareness o f lesbian identities. T h e i r experiences m a y be v i e w e d i n l ight o f K i t z i n g e r ' s (1987) suggestion that lesbian stories need to be t o l d as an alternative to heterosexuality. These t w o w o m e n observed the oppressive subtext o f w o m e n ' s roles i n heterosexual relationships around t h e m and at an early age made decis ions based o n this awareness. A s c h i l d r e n they were not aware o f a lesbian alternative, but later as y o u n g adults they d i d b e c o m e i n v o l v e d w i t h a w o m a n p r i o r to serious heterosexual-involvement. I n a culture that devalues w o m e n ' s reproductive labour, that judges and often condemns w o m e n for the consequences o f heterosexual relations, a n d that makes c h i l d rearing and staying at home iso lat ing a n d often paramount to f i n a n c i a l suic ide, the poss ib i l i t ies i n lesbian relat ionships may appear more attractive. I n the interviews w e d i d not discuss, to any extent, the benefits o f a lesbian l i f e style other t h a n the posi t ive influences this brings to their h e l p i n g professional work . I n the focus group however there was a d i s c u s s i o n about the j o y s o f lesbian love a n d sex. S o m e o f the co- researcher/participants discussed their l e s b i a n relationships i n c o m p a r i s o n to their heterosexual experiences o f love and phys ica l int imacy. I d i d n ' t i n c l u d e this d iscuss ion i n the data as this aspect o f their lives/herstories was not as direct ly related to the focus o f m y I l l - research o n lesbian-ness and professional careers . 1 9 L o o k i n g at lesbian-ness as an alternative to heterosexuality brings u p m a n y questions that r e m a i n a mystery o f h u m a n sexuality. F o r example , is sexual desire/behaviour a choice? S u c h questions r e m a i n interesting but outside the scope o f this research. L i s t e n i n g to the early awarenesses o f the same-sex desires o f m y co-researcher/participants may contribute to further w o r k o n this question. E v e r y one o f these w o m e n h a d intense m e m o r i e s o f c lose a n d important gir l fr iends and/or female teachers. L o o k i n g b a c k they n o w understand these intense friendships/crushes as ear ly l e s b i a n feelings. A t the t i m e o f the experience, some h a d the label l e s b i a n for these feelings and some ident i f ied t h e m as h a v i n g a sexual component. T h i s was often ra t ional i zed as a "stage" they were g o i n g through, but m a n y d i d not v i e w their closeness or interactions w i t h other g ir l s/women i n this l ight. T h e i n v i s i b i l i t y a n d repression o f lesbian-ness i n the culture seems to be portrayed here. These feelings/thoughts b e c o m e b u r i e d , often too terr i fy ing to acknowledge. T h e c o m p u l s o r y nature o f heterosexism comes into focus. T h e a lmost o v e r w h e l m i n g annih i la t ion o f the ideology a n d practice o f w o m e n b o n d i n g sexual ly a n d e m o t i o n a l l y i n the group and i n i n d i v i d u a l consciousness is revealed ( K i t z i n g e r , 1987). These w o m e n repressed or suppressed their same-sex desires w i t h most g o i n g o n to date and/or co-habitate i n heterosexual relationships. Heterosexual relat ionships p l a y e d a s ignif icant role for three o f the w o m e n for m a n y years. I n chapter f ive there is further e x p l o r a t i o n o f the internal u n c o v e r i n g process o f these repressed l e s b i a n desires o u t l i n e d b y some o f the co-researcher/participants. W e have seen i n chapter four h o w as g ir ls , teenagers and y o u n g w o m e n , m y co-researcher/participants have navigated the gendered a n d heterosexist reality surrounding them. T h e y became y o u n g teachers, nurses, soc ia l w o r k e r s , w i t h some aware o f their lesbian-ness a n d others a w a k e n i n g to this i n the midst o f their professional careers. 1 9 I d o feel that there is more w o r k needed o n sexuality/intimacy i n c l u d i n g heterosexual, gay, b i s e x u a l or lesbian. F o r more i n f o r m a t i o n o n lesbian sex and relat ionships see L o u l a n ( 1 9 8 7 , 1 9 8 4 ) . 112 Chapter F ive : C o n d i t i o n s and Contr ibut ions o f L e s b i a n L i v e s C o m i n g out, the a c k n o w l e d g i n g o f l e s b i a n desires, has been br ie f ly touched o n b y the co-researchers/participants i n chapter four. T h i s w i l l be e x p l o r e d m o r e f u l l y , h i g h l i g h t i n g the processes o f c o m i n g out to self, the condit ions surrounding this l i fe changing transit ion, h o w others receive this i n f o r m a t i o n , and h o w professional l ives are affected. I started w i t h early f a m i l y l i fe i n chapter four a n d so at the e n d o f chapter f ive I w i l l revis i t the f a m i l y theme as participants describe their experiences o f c o m i n g out to parents. Repress ive C o n d i t i o n s S o m e o f the negative condit ions surrounding lesbian-ness have been m e n t i o n e d prev ious ly such as the pathologized i n f o r m a t i o n one teenager f o u n d at her l o c a l l ibrary. Others discuss negative m e d i a i n f o r m a t i o n a n d attitudes at w o r k a n d in-educational settings. It is easy to see h o w these repressive condi t ions c o u l d ext inguish the sur fac ing o f lesbian desires. / remember being in the car with my parents actually I was probably about 5 or 6. . . . / was in the back seat and I guess there was something on the radio about homosexuality. I remember someone was ranting about gays and I remember my Mom turning to my Dad and saying well 1 don't think that they should be treated like that. They are ill. They are mentally ill and they need help. They should be given help. And I remember sticking my head into the front seat and saying who are they? What are you talking about? And she said they are just people that have a mental illness and people are being mean to them and they shouldn't be. They need help. They need psychiatric help. Now that is not a direct quote (laughs).... I remember that I filed that away somewhere and that was a time, as you know, where what you would read or see as a kid or as a teenager about homosexuality did have a lot to do with being looked at as a psychiatric disorder or imbalance or because of some environment in your home dynamics that had created it. And it was really kind of ugly. I thought that it was really ugly and kind of shameful. The fact that I kind of had feelings that would creep upon me like that later, I would really consciously 113 block those feelings because of a sense of shame. A n o t h e r w o m a n remembers the m o v i e s w i t h lesbian content. / remember two movies that were about lesbians. The Killing of Sister George and The Fox. Susanna York was in that one, and The Fox by D.H. Lawrence, in both of those stories the lesbian gets killed off You know it is a very unhappy ending. There wasn \t a positive movie that I remember and stories or books about happy lesbians were not available (laughs). I remember going to the library to look up lesbian and I was all over the medical section. It was so negative. There were no happy lesbian love stories any of that stuff at that time. T h e places i n the past that lesbians h a d to soc ia l ize i n were also descr ibed quite negatively by one o f the w o m e n . / remember going to my first gay bar. You didn't take your ID. and you fully expected a fight. It was just starting to be a little more open as far as stereotypical butch-femme roles, more androgynous. It was just beginning. They could be very unhappy places for lesbians. Drunk women who didn7 like themselves. It was pretty negative. Most places were in old dilapidated buildings until I got a little older and went to Montreal and Toronto and Vancouver and things improved. Classier places, classier people in terms of dress it was a social cultural thing too. Yeah a lot of discrimination for dykes in those days. W o r k i n g and educat ional condit ions were v i e w e d as negative for lesbians so b e i n g closeted was the n o r m . / wasn't into socializing with people on the unit much. It wasn 7 talked well shouldn 7 say it wasn 7 talked about. The head nurse and the assistant head nurse were probably girlfriends on the unit, I'm just remembering this, but they never addressed that. It was never talked about although I think that there were a fair number of rumors.... There were lots of couples working within the university and within the nursing program but again the nursing programs were extremely closeted or thought they were or didn 7 bring it up at all and sort of avoided the topic at all costs. So weren 7 helpful, weren 7 role models, weren 7 positive role models anyway. 1 1 4 C o m i n g O u t Process Descr ipt ions o f personal reactions to the awareness o f l e s b i a n identity, r a n the entire gamut a m o n g the s i x w o m e n i n this study. T h i s i n d i v i d u a l i t y a n d diversi ty o f responses ranged f r o m r e l i e f and empowerment through to t rauma a n d depression. It was a positive thing hut I also knew that it was really dangerous and it was a secret. Someone else states: It was always a relief to me. When I had to try and get honest with myself about ' different things. I struggled with it for a long time thinking- God I just don't think I can present myself to the world like this. Even though at one point I had quite a lot of lesbian friends. I respected them. I still had a lot of internalized homophobia because I just didn't want to be regarded by the world in the way I knew that sometimes lesbian women and gay men were regarded. And I have heard some really awful things as we all have and I just thought man, it sounds so ugly. There was still shame connected with it for me. A n o t h e r w o m a n describes a n aspect o f her c o m i n g out process: You get quite heady and empowered and there is a real freeing of energy.. . . getting stronger and healthier. . . . things were just clicking and even intellectually and so on. I was teaching the Women's Studies course and there was a whole bunch of different ideas coming and I was going to different conferences and everything. It felt better sharper, clearer. Everything was sort of coming together. . . . this real kind of positive energy.... alive and creative at the same time. A m a r r i e d w o m a n wanted her husband to rescue her f r o m her intense feelings for her first w o m a n lover. / had told him all along. I'd said to (my husband) when I'm with her I don't know how to stop this. Then after things started to happen I said you know things are happening why don't you do something about it. I was sort of hoping he would take charge of the situation and save me or something. He just said, "there is nothing I can do about it. " So I was left spending hours crying and thinking what am I screwing up my life. And it was really very traumatic, but in the end I had to make a decision. 115 A n o t h e r w o m a n describes the b e g i n n i n g o f a depression. If was getting more physical and I just remember one night she said I don't want to go in there, I don't want to go in there. We were sitting outside in my car. She was supposed to go in so we cuddled up together in the car. I remember I said the word lesbian one time and she just freaked. Anyway I started getting sick about all this. It started to really bother me. I kind of knew what was going on, I started like pacing, feel ing depressed. T h e c o m m u n i c a t i o n i n the i n t i m a c y o f one w o m a n ' s first re lat ionship is described here. What was really wonderful about coming out was that we talked about it constantly and every step that we took was from a place of being perfectly fine with it. That we never, neither one of us, ever engaged in anything that felt scary or awkward to the point where we didn't want to be doing it. And if that was the case we were both really good about saying so and things would slow down and we would talk about it. We would come to an agreement or understanding. So my coming out was great. It was like coming out with your best friend and yet there was that interest and excitement of not being best friends but becoming best friends. C o m p a r t m e n t a l i z a t i o n T h e repressive condit ions embedded i n the culture, plus the negative reactions that o c c u r w h e n someone 's lesbian-ness is revealed, c a n lead to a c o m p a r t m e n t a l i z a t i o n o r a h i d i n g o f these desires and their result ing relationships. T h i s compartmenta l i zat ion takes place at a n internal level as w o m e n repress, suppress or dissociate f r o m their same sex desires. It also takes place o n an external l e v e l as, once out to themselves, they keep their lesbian-ness a secret f r o m others i n var ious aspects o f their l ives. Internal C o m p a r t m e n t a l i z a t i o n T w o o f the participants h a d more o f a n internal j o u r n e y towards their adult awareness o f their l e s b i a n identity. T h e y weren ' t prope l led into this discovery v i a a re lat ionship as the other four identi f ied. A s these t w o describe their gradual reawakening o f their same-sex desires, a c lear picture o f their internal process is painted. 116 I got good al blocking things out and kind of burying things. It made it really difficult for me as... well you build a life around you, you know? It appears one way to people and it gels harder and harder to shift that. . . .1 just started to be kind of honest about my feelings, and started to think hard about my life. Yeah I can pick all these limes in my life when I pushed these feelings down and thought no I can't go there. 1 can't go there with my family, my life. I can't go there. And then I started to look at whether I wanted to be happy or not or whether I just wanted to kind of keep moving the way I was moving. Just kind of functioning. . . .1 just spent a lot of lime thinking about it. Kind of taking it apart all alone, in my head. ... It was slow in the sense that it was a long process ofunburying things, but once I really felt that I was going to be completely honest with myself it was just there. It was sort oj like taking something that's there and you've got these layers over it and it sort of seeps through and you can put another layer on it to keep it from seeping through for a little while. Then when you decide you 're tired of layers then it takes a while to pull them all off. But once you gel there, it is there and it was always there. . . . It is not even a big surprise. It is just that you had to work to kind of undo the layers that you had built up. But it is not like it is somebody suddenly turning on a light or something. It's sort of there I don 'l know if that makes sense.... This is what it is and that is who I am and I always knew that deep down and I couldn 't even go back. ... when I was going through this process, I would lay in bed at night and I'd think back to my adolescence. My first fantasy thing about women and how 1 dealt with that. The crushes I had on different girls and how I would cover that up. The crushes I had on women later. I just thought God I was just really good at compartmentalizing those things. ... I just couldn't work it into my life, my family's life, everything. So I would just kind of compartmentalize them and leave them there. •Another w o m a n describes part o f her process towards her lesbian-ness that includes a reveal ing dream. They (sexual feelings for women) kind of went underground or seemed to be 1 1 7 channeled toward heterosexuality certainly.... 1 just became more conscious that I couldn7 deny that I had lesbian feelings.. . . I think that I just went into this second stage of it wasn't so much repression as suppression. . . . I was attracted to (women) strongly and then I did have a dream too. It was an interesting dream. A sad dream too in a way, and really when I look back on it now to me it was sort of symbolic of some kind of a coming out process I suppose. . . . anyway what the dream was- it was a very powerful dream. It was in the setting sort of like the apartment we had rented.... There was a girl hanging and she was about 12 years old and she was hanging from the ceiling. And at first 1 couldn't tell if she was alive or dead. And then there was some small boys 9,10,11, throwing rocks at her and I chased them away. 1 said what the hell do you think you are doing and chased them away. Then I looked up at her and realized that she was alive and I said oh my God are you okay. And this kind of look of confusion and shame was there and she said oh yeah I'm okay. My Mom put me up here because I'm bad. And I said oh okay and then I went back in the apartment and shut the door and then I thought but this isn't okay. I don't write very many of my dreams down but I wrote that one down. Interviewer: Was she like hanging, like in string? Participant: Yeah, a rope like around her neck hanging from the ceiling. E x t e r n a l C o m p a r t m e n t a l i z a t i o n C o m i n g out to others is a l i f e l o n g , sometimes, da i ly task as people m o v e i n a n d out o f a lesbian's l i fe . I n the i n i t i a l stages o f attempting to l i v e w i t h the k n o w l e d g e o f one 's lesbian-ness, there is m u c h strategizing a n d d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g around w h o to t e l l or not to t e l l , w h o k n o w s or doesn't k n o w . These w o m e n ta lk about the c o m p a r t m e n t a l i z i n g , the k e e p i n g separate o f various parts o f their l ives . / was supposed to go into residence (laughs). My family dropped me off but I never stayed in residence. I moved right in with her. . . . There were lots of closeted people and there was a secrecy. Don V be too obvious, and we are getting together later to go out to the club but don V tell anybody. You know all of that sort of in the closet stuff so you got this real clear message. . . I just felt so much pressure there 118 (in home city) 1 was in a high profile job and 1 wasn't out and it was dangerous to be out. Anyplace where I can meet people like myself in a different city that's where the fun was. 1 didn7 get involved with people in (home city). I just separated out my work life and where I lived from the rest. We knew how to recognize each other and we found each other in every city we visited. L i n e s are d r a w n between w h o k n o w s a n d w h o doesn' t k n o w the secret. So 1 was starting to come out at that time. I was in a committed relationship but I wasn't out amongst students, I wasn 7 out with my team players. A n o t h e r w o m a n states : / wasn 7 out the first year. . . I came out secretly to three people... a couple of other people I told they were very open and understanding and very accepting, but I really didn 'tjeel like I could tell the class. . . .1 really felt like I had this hidden thing going on like I would go over to the women's center where dyke talk was and go to meetings and then I'd sneak back to the department. T h i s k e e p i n g parts o f a l i fe secret or separate f r o m other parts c a n take its t o l l . / was really very scared that someone would see (my girlfriend) and I together and I was very fearful. I didn 7 know if I would get fired or I 'd lose my job or never get a full-time contract and 1 used to just sweat buckets. Like I'd get up every morning and I'd stand in front of the mirror and I'd try on different outfits and say does that look like a lesbian.... how do I deny this relationship all day and then come home and be with her, so that was really hard. One lime we walked into a restaurant and we were kind of holding hands a little bit and laughing and I looked up and there was the nurse from our school. I just died a thousand deaths because I felt oh my God she has seen me acting intimate. She is going to go and tell every one at school. This is what I thought in my own paranoia and I 'in sure she told no one or didn 7 care. But 1 was like oh my God she is going to tell everybody.... so I went through three days of walking around school feeling like any minute someone is going to tell me and then 1 'm going lo get fired and I didn 7 even know what rights I had. I didn 7 even want to bring it up to find out really what rights I had. I was really intimidated by the whole thing and thought you just have to play the game and 119 you have to hide and 1 was angry around it. I had internalized a whole bunch of homophobia. Support/Al l ies T h e reasons that these w o m e n had to compartmental ize their l ives often were related to fears o f negative consequences w i t h j o b loss b e i n g one o f the greatest fears. Somet imes these fears c a m e true for some o f the w o m e n i n this study but other t imes these were not actual ized. H e r e are some examples o f occasions w h e n the people around t h e m such as bosses, co-workers and academic supervisors, were supportive. / really liked working with this gay guy because there was a sense of comradery and understanding. We could joke with one another in ways that didn't seem to happen as readily with the straight staff. Like having a big brother. We used to get together for dinner. A n o t h e r w o m a n discusses the posit ive experience she h a d i n her graduate program. / had nothing but support. I had three advisors who were feminist and were really strong at (university) for me on my committee, that were willing to go to bat for an all woman committee. I went through that program without any horror stories. That is the first time I have ever been in a graduate program where it went well. I just got support like crazy. Some people talk about how horrible a lime they had with their advisor or their committee or their defense. It was just clear sailing. It was really, really the most positive time in my life as jar as acceptance goes. C o m i n g out i n graduate school to a supervisor is a pleasant surprise for another lesbian. / talked to her before the class lo basically to come out and say this is what my questions are about because I didn't want to be called on in class and answer the questions and not know if there was support. And I also felt like if I had been the teacher I wouldn V want that surprise. So I really had a lot of respect for her. It was sort of like there was this part of it was self preservation on my part and part of it was really having a lot of respect for her and not wanting to put her in (he position where she would be surprised or that she would fail me or what ever. It wasn't just 120 selfish and I can remember being really nervous because 1 had not been out up to this point. I had been in school maybe a month and I'm thinking you know is this the end of my career. And she was great because I remember like telling her and being so nervous. I don't even remember what I said but at some point in the conversation she just looked at me, smiled and said thanks for sharing this,-1 have to let you in on something. Some where in her life as teacher someone had told her that there were a few things that students would tell her that would mark her as a teacher and one of them would be when a student came out to her so that was a marker of you are now a teacher. And she was thanking me because I apparently was the first student who had come out to her. I sort of remember being surprised and shocked that I wasn't getting anything that I had thought were the possible responses. H e r worst fears were never ac tua l i zed as a teacher keeps her j o b w h e n her p r i n c i p a l discovers that she is a lesbian. One of my students outed me to my principal. She went and told him that she had seen me kissing another woman on Commercial Drive or something and I was pretty devastated. My teaching partner knew and so (the principal) was in a meeting and he was called out of the room and she (leaching partner) overheard some stuffs She came running to me and said, "they told (the principal) that you are a lesbian. What are we going to do? What is our strategy? " I was like I don 'I know what's our strategy. I was just panicked and so he came in... I was in huge denial maybe this will go away maybe (the student) hasn't told anybody. My principal comes to me and says "do you know why she hasn't been to school in three days? " And then I knew it was over. I said yes. He said that she had started rumours about you and 1 just burst into tears. And I said to him "this is not how I wanted you to find out. " I really felt like I had been caught making love in the middle of my classroom floor in front of my kids. I felt totally exposed, vulnerable and that I had done something really inappropriate. Somehow I had broken the code of being a good teacher. I think what it had been is that we had kissed goodbye as we were leaving from somewhere and had been seen right. And I just said to him "I have been so 121 careful. " He said "Do you want to go to my office? " I was grateful and we went to his office and he put his arms around me and said "it changes nothing about your leaching. " And he says "I have homosexual friends " (laughs). So I kind of knew, okay, he doesn V really understand all of it, but he is open and he is not going to fire me. The following story shows a supervisor stumbling as she learns and evolves. When I first told my boss who I am very fond of. . . .She was asking me about my relationship with my parents. It was in the first week or two that I worked there and I said something about our relationship and there are things that I feel are between us. I said for instance I have never come out to them. I 'm gay and I've never come out to them and that is an issue. She said oh you 're a lesbian? And then she said I would never have known you look so normal( laughs). I kind of looked at her. My jaw dropped and she realized what she said and she kind of tried to back out of it a bit. She goes you are normal. She goes you are normal I didn't mean that and I laughed. I said it's okay, I know what you meant. At the time I was kind of taken aback, obviously she feels it is not normal or she wouldn 't have said it. But she is somebody who is always trying to make an effort to unravel her prejudices. Sometimes she gets it, sometimes she doesn V, but she always tries. So I felt a little bit hurt, a little bit taken aback but I understand in getting to know her that that was just part of her learning. She was actually quite supportive of me in a number of situations. . . She said to (another heterosexual supervisor) who had an issue with an all queer event taking place and who felt it excluded heterosexuals- "that is not the issue- you are not a repressed minority. " I was quite touched by it and I said lo her "I really appreciate that. " She said "well I really feel that that was wrong. And I said (to the other supervisor) anyway that event is not meant for your staff. It 'sj'or my staff and I support it. " I was really touched by that cuz I know that she's had to learn a lot about things. 122 N e g a t i v e R e a c t i o n s Unfortunate ly not a l l the reactions to a n i n d i v i d u a l s ' m i n o r i t y sexuality have such happy endings. J o b loss, d i s c r i m i n a t o r y h i r i n g practices, i m m i g r a t i o n p o l i c i e s , sexual harassment, attempts at suppression o f a support group, and fear tactics o n the street, are a l l p a i n f u l memories for these lesbians. T h i s next story takes place i n 1995 i n the U n i t e d States o f A m e r i c a . / tried to get a job al this little school. It is a private Catholic school and they were pretty desperate for a faculty member. They actually needed two faculty members and this is in August. I just called them up and I say I 'in thinking of moving to (this city). These are my qualifications. I got an interview like within 5 minutes.... She says we will need to have you write a statement in support of our mission statement which basically has you kissing the hand of the pope and pledging alligance. I say well I'm involved in a few activities that the pope might not support. And I don 'l even say that I am a lesbian. I say well I sit on this committee. I'm on the human rights committee . . .and (they) also have a pretty clear public statement around lesbian and gay issues.. .. I somewhere in there said I'm a lesbian and basically expect to be treated well. She wanted to know how I would go about teaching in this Catholic school. I said well I wouldn 'l see any problem. It would be kind of interesting to do that and if it is not part of the content of the class, I don't see that this necessarily needs to be brought up. When it does it needs to have the context of how people work with others who are different than they are. Then I even offered that I would even entertain having an article read in class that was in opposition to homosexuality and use that as a spring board for discussion which is probably where she got nervous (laughs) . . . . So I'm told that I now have to talk to other people. I can't make this decision independently. Where as before she had that information she could have just hired me. It ends up that I don't get the job. They are not going to hire me because my life style doesn 't support the mission of the school. Interviewer: And they tell you that? 123 Participant: Yes they tell me that. And I filed a complaint with the state human rights commission but because it is not a protected class they can't do anything about it. Interviewer: What is not a protected class? Participant: Lesbians are not a protected class. There is no anti-discrimination built into.any of the state law or the federal law to support so it is perfectly legitimate and legal to discriminate. A c t u a l j o b loss, a lesbian 's worst fear, becomes a real i ty for this next co- researcher/participant. / did lose a job because I was a lesbian. . . . I was doing a pretty good job there. I hadn '(finished my Ph.D. A new person came in, in charge of the lab and he wanted my position for some of his other people. So my position was not renewed, basically I was fired. The reason they gave me that my contract was not going to be renewed was because I hadn't finished my Ph.D. Well I can give you a list this long of people who had gone off and not finished their Ph. D. and still haven't got it by the way most of them. Behind closed doors, my friends and one other person. . .. (the Executive) said and besides she is a lesbian that is a problem for us. It was never said to me. It was said that I hadn't finished my Ph. D. Interviewer: Right but your friends told you. Participant: To them behind closed doors. T h e react ion to a h a v i n g a support group for lesbian workers has an unusual twist. We decided io have a gay and lesbian bisexual support group for people at the organization and I sent a fax out to all the.programs that if they wanted to meet with this group we would be at such and such a place at such and such a time on a Tuesday or whatever. It was faxed lo the institution I work in . . . I guess one of the secretaries got it and was very offended by it. My boss was called into the director's office and told that it was insulting because it excluded heterosexuals and if heterosexual workers at the workplace had decided to have a support group for heterosexual women then of course lesbians would be offended. 1 2 4 Sexual harassment is a negative reaction that this woman endured for some time but eventually managed to get stopped. This story seems an example not only of men feeling entitled to sexually harass women but their behaviours seem justified by some heterosexist "lesbians just need a good man" mythology. / didn V know how lo deal with men coming on to me and they shouldn't have been coming on to me in the first place. Wften we go away twice a year to these conferences it was meetings all day and then drinking and partying all night. I would tend to want to go off with the women and then that became a sore point. Like some women would slip away and that is when I would get. . . Interviewer: These phone calls? Participant: yeah. Banging on the door knowing that you are in your room but you won't answer the phone. The worst sexual harassment came when I was actually quite a bit older. There were three men involved that were harassing me and I didn't know how to make them stop. I consulted with a friend of mine who said you have got to go to the director. I thought he was part of the problem. So I went to him and I asked him to call off these three guys and it stopped after that. But one of them, 1 remember this distinctly, I was in my office and he was drunk al 8 in the morning. He came in, well not drunk but he had been drinking. I'm sitting in my desk and I turn around and he just grabs me and starts kissing me. And I push him away and I get him out of my office. I mean I was so in shock I couldn't even believe he was doing this. When I talk about sexual harassment that is probably the most obvious. The rest was all innuendos and very subtle comments and feelings of awkwardness. I knew that when I went to those places that I would have to once again deal with that like I had all those years... .I'm sure it was worse because I was a lesbian. I didn't want to put up with it. . . .As I see it, it really isn't a thing that I think women should have to go through but I got better at handling it. I got very good at saying look I'm not interested, period end of story. Institutional discrimination in immigration policies was discussed by one participant and is another painful totally unnecessary situation. 125 Participant: No one within the university has really taken this on as an issue. Interviewer: The issue is that a heterosexual student can get their partner a work visa? Participant: That is correct. Interviewer: An international student? Participant: Yes and that is like published in the university information. It is on the immigration stuff that if one of you has a student visa your partner can apply for and receive a work authorization visa. What that means is you don't have to compete for jobs. You can go and apply for any job and if they hire you, they hire you just as they would a Canadian. They don't have to show that they have been unable to hire a Canadian for the job and then get you special permission. Interviewer: And the legal thing somehow hasn't worked? Participant: No we have applied once. We were told no. We applied a second time. We were told no. We have applied a third time. Interviewer: No? Why do they say no? Participant: The first time there was no reason given what so ever. The second time we were told that (lesbianpartner) didn 'I qualify under the law. Interviewer: And why was this? Participant: That was vague. It wasn't said why. Then the third time we applied we applied for her through Vagerville just like a heterosexual couple would apply. They told us that she didn't meet the definition of a legal spouse. A legal spouse under Canadian immigration law is a member of the opposite sex whom you are legally married to and can show proof of a marriage certificate. Interviewer: So how does this impact you and your career? Participant: Well it makes it hard and I mean there is always the possibility of Canada immigration coming and taking (my partner) across the border and refusing her entry. One time we came across the border. . . she was hassled. We were hassled big time at the border to the point where we weren 'l sure that she was going to get to come across. 126 Interviewer: And that has been two years of this. Participant: It will be two years in June. It affects us in that I'm the sole supporter of the family. I get caught up in this stuff and it takes me away from my studies. I feel guilty a lot of the time around what am I doing to my relationship. Should we have come here and neither one of us are particularly happy here. Part of that is because (my partner) doesn't have any meaningful work. I feel responsible for sort of dragging her here even though it's real clear lo both of us that she is an adult and she made a choice to come here: But at the same time, it's real clear to me, I wouldn 'l have come here alone. It just makes it hard and then things surface with stuff about the lawyers. The first lawyer we were with her for a year and a half and we didn't really get anywhere. Initially we didn't have the court challenge money. It was my savings and that is gone. So that makes it harder lo continue because well it is not getting anywhere. We almost have to continue because we have spent all this money. . .. I think that it does impact me and my being lesbian then has an impact on my career, my education. All that gets impacted in a huge HUGE way. I mean when she is depressed or I'm depressed about we are not getting anywhere. . . . it just becomes time consuming and there is probably other things that we could talk about or engage in than immigration talk. M o s t o f these negative incidents have been related to w o r k but there were stories o f harassment i f lesbian-ness is v i s ib le w h e n just w a l k i n g d o w n the street. Like we don't hold hands all the time but once in a while we might hold hands for a little part of the walk. Especially late at night sometimes we do. So we were walking and we were laughing, sort oj holding hands and we were walking off of the curb. This group of guys pulled up in this big red sports car and sort of blocked it, so we couldn't keep walking. Stopped the car and looked at us and sort of laughed out the window at us. Jeered at us. I was really caught off guard, because we had just been laughing about something funny and we were paying attention to each other. Then all of a sudden there was this car right there and four guys in it. I just got the feeling that they were going to get out of the car and beat us. We both just 127 stopped and we were almost paralyzed watching what was going to happen. They sort of had that look in their eyes daring us to just try anything. We didn't. It's sort of like you're flaunting it kind of look. Just do it and we'll get you. We just froze. In the car they just sat there. They didn't actually get out of the car. They looked like they were going to and then finally they spun the car around and sped off really fast, tires squealing and screaming. It really shook us up. We were going like "holy Jeez, how close was that call? " So it was probably the first lime I really experienced a lot of hostility in a very public place. It was pretty scary and it felt very threatening and very intimidating. Of course it was meant to. It frightened us and then we sure didn't act like lesbians after that. We were sort of like walking home going "Oh my god, oh my god." You know, and not touching each other. It was very upsetting. E t h i c s /Boundaries These professional care-givers have been attempting to sort out ethical d i l e m m a s and boundary issues often i n a culture that doesn't even acknowledge that they exist. S o m e o f the d i l e m m a s these w o m e n faced many years ago i n the context o f a c loseted l i fe . A t that t ime, secrecy seemed the o n l y poss ib i l i ty for someone i n a professional pos i t ion T a l k i n g to others for advice c o u l d rarely inc lude the f u l l story. O n e w o m a n discusses the b r i c k w a l l boundaries that she d e v e l o p e d out o f fear o f l o s i n g her j o b . / was really vulnerable when the odd student... would get a crush on me. I always felt vulnerable. I had a very clear, clear sense that I would not be involved with anyone that I was teaching.. .. none of that stuff. So thank God I had that really early. I had that clearly. There was no way. But I was so vulnerable because often times they didn't know what they were doing. They didn't know that they were seeking out or exploring their own lesbian identity. What I saw happen to some friends is that if you cultivated what would normally be just a friendship. Not a friendship outside of work I didn V do any of that. But were friendly to these girls in struggle that would want to talk to you... Sometimes they would even bring it up. Mostly by and large it was fine. You were like a counsellor but occasionally there 128 would be a girl or a young woman thai would be doing that and would get so scared that she would turn on you and say things about you. Now it didn't happen to me but it happened to a couple of my colleagues and those are dangerous, dangerous situations for a professional. When someone gets a crush on you and they won't know that it is sexual in nature and then they get that it is sexual. I saw that happen to a number of people. I was young and I was really quite vulnerable and that is why I had this thick boundary around me. If someone came to me wanting to explore that I didn't encourage it. They came during office hours if I'd be friendly and I'd encourage them to go to talk to someone. But I would try not to have any of those conversations. 1 would refer them out because that was the only way for me to stay safe. . . . if you are not even out as a lesbian, right, you are in a very dangerous situation. You have to do everything by the book and above. Interviewer: Yeah and you weren't out- how is it dangerous? Is it that it could jeopardize your... ? Participant: Career. Interviewer: You could lose your job? Participant: If the infatuation started with me I would just push it away and redirect. I didn't want any of that. There was part of me that really wished I could have counseled them and help them gel some clarity, but it was just too dangerous, so I'd avoid it if possible. I'd stop the conversation and move on which a lot of us did I think in those days. T h e need for complete distance between the personal a n d the professional is seen as very necessary b y this counsel lor i n the lesbian c o m m u n i t y . She sees no grey areas here. / can... help them explore themselves and be non- judgmental because I'm out and it is clean and above board. If a transference develops, a positive transference, and if there is an erotic aspect to it then I help the client work with that. I have clear boundaries and it just goes back to that person to work it out and to understand it. It is more about them and not about me, just another way that they can understand themselves. You can't say that if you are not out. I don't think it is so easy to draw 129 that line. So I have a really clear boundary conversation that I have with my clients in terms of being a lesbian. Being out means that the community is small and I might run into clients. I might be counselling their ex- lover. I talk about what is going to happen if we run into each other socially and a lot of lesbian feminists have different boundaries. I have thick brick walls in terms of my boundaries. I 'm one of those people who came up in the fifties and was trained in this way. It is still really important for me lo have those really clear boundaries as a feminist. I've seen some feminists counsellors become friends with their clients but I'm not comfortable with it myself. They can be seeing clients and then when they are at a dance in the community, they can have a beer with them or that kind of stuff or a dance with them. I won't do any of that stuff. I have that conversation right up front with the client. What are we going to do when or if we bump into each other in the community. Then 1 basically say I'm your counsellor. I'm your counsellor for life. I will not be involved with you. I will not be sexual with you. I will be your counsellor. You can go away and come back. I will still be your counsellor. So I have a really clear role expectation there. . . .No I'm not going to have a dance with you all that stuff because lesbian therapists have a real decision to make around that in a smaller community. You have to decide how are you going to do this because in small communities forever is a long time... .and the down side is that as a therapist we can become very isolated. The world is just too small with no place for me to be just myself without being aware that there are clients watching and wanting to know more personal stuff about me. A n o t h e r lesbian discusses a different experience w i t h these professional/personal boundaries w h e n first c o m i n g out. A p i v o t a l , l i fe-enhancing relat ionship begins w i t h i n the context o f a professional setting w h e n neither w o m a n is aware o f her lesbian-ness. So we start doing social things outside the (work place).. . she decides that she is going to move to (my city) because she wants to get a job there... . so she rents the bottom half of the duplex that I am living in. . .1 am talking about this a little bit in therapy and it's dawning on me. . . .and so we had this agreement between us that 130 we would always tell (he truth in our conversations and one night we are watching tv. We are sitting on the couch and we start looking at each other. And she says to me so what are you thinking. It's like one of those oh shit kind of moments for me because I'm playing through my mind this little fantasy of what it would be like to kiss her. So I say that to her. I'm not really clear what her response is going to be but I say it and her response is like so what would be wrong with that and we end up kissing each other... . I remember (ethics and boundaries) being a concern. I mean I'm 21 and not having clear boundaries and really locating it and knew it at the time that it was really like who I am at this age and knowing that those boundaries are unclear. . . . And thinking so what are these rules about. Being in an environment where lots of those rules are questioned and rebellion and breaking them down. Just because it is a rule doesn 't mean that that is what we should do. Rules are about people being controlled. I think that is a developmental task of someone early in their twenties. That you break some of those rules and you find out why they are helpful or not. And where they fit for you and where they don't. I don 'l know what I would do today confronted with the same thing because it wasn't awful. 1 wasn't punished. There is not that level of fear. Although I think at the time I was concerned and I was somewhat discrete but it had to be obvious to everybody. . . . I was having some difficulty finding those absolutes.... I don't feel at all judgmental about myselfl 5 years later. A n o t h e r w o m a n expresses c o n c e r n that a l though she t a l k e d to senior staff about the boundaries between staff and c l ients , lesbian-ness was not part o f the equation. / knew that we got along well. Anyway I remember asking one oftlje (senior staff) . . .I'm going like do you think it's a good idea if 1 see this woman outside of here? She's says well I'm going to go have dinner with. . .my(ex) client, we arranged to have this dinner. I'm like, oh okay, so it is alright. But I think there was something in me that kind of knew there was something else going on here but yet didn't quite know what you're supposed to do. Like whether you're supposed to befriends with clients or whatever. . . .It was just in the first couple of months of my coming to the 131 city., .this woman did want (to befriends). So I said okay, we'll go swimming or whatever so I started seeing her. .. So she starts seeing (a therapist) and then she addresses the fact that she thinks she is lesbian. 1 must have told her 1 was, I must have somewhere in there, I can't remember. I do remember that I told her where the hotels were because I knew where all the hotels were. So that relationship started to - all of a sudden I was aware that this relationship was turning sexual, like all of a sudden I was aware that I had some sexual feelings for this woman. Interviewer: And she had them for you. You said that it was pretty clear that she had sexual feelings towards you and you were aware that you had them towards her. Participant: Actually I think she started telling me she had these feelings for me before I was aware that I had them for her.... Anyway somehow this thing evolved and I remember thinking oh my god I mean this woman was a client and how did I let this happen. But it was down the road. . .1 started going into therapy somewhere in there.. . . So anyway I remember things were getting hot and whatever and I said I can't do this until. . . its been six months. I don't know where I read that. .. . so that relationship went on for- it was off and on, it was the most amazing sexual relationship, the sex was really good.... Anyway that's a whole other thing. I would say from the first time I had sex with her to the last time there was seven years in between so you know, it wasn't like an insignificant relationship. But I do think there needs to be more about this. It's confusing this boundary issue- this ethical issue.... I really didn't think that I could go talk to anyone, well I did though-1 ended up going to see a therapist right? Which was really good because it got me into my own issues and what was going on with me. But it's like, I talked to (the senior staff)... . I think more needs to be done in this area... .Maybe it's because they think it's two women- they are just friends or they don't think of that part or they don't think to address that whole issue. A y o u n g teacher struggles w i t h the concept o f boundaries , the imaginary d i v i s i o n between the person a n d the professional persona. I was just learning boundaries of what it meant to be a teacher and there were times 132 when we would get together after (class) and go for drinks or at the end of the term. It wasn't like after each week. It was sort of a marker of accomplishments. There were just times when I realized that there was an attraction on my part to one of the students- like an older student. This was a community college and really learning about where those boundaries were or needed to be. Now I look back on that and I realize that it was a real time of growth and awareness about what my responsibilities were as a teacher. And how it is a place of privilege and power and realizing that I had responsibilities and not stepping over those boundaries. . . .1 kind of see that it was those naive kinds of ways of looking at my world that I would step out into something that I shouldn't have been doing. . . . We would get together and have a picnic or just make additional contact and I think that that was not the most appropriate thing to do looking back on it. At the time I didn't have anyone to really give me direction. It sounded like it was fun and I liked these students. They were my peer group if we were outside of the school setting and outside of my role as a teacher so I really found them to be fun and entertaining and interesting people. The three years that I taught there blur together. Somewhere in there I had 4-5 students come out to me. 3 of them would have been men and then 2 students who started a relationship together during my (class). One had known that she had always been a lesbian and had been active in the community and then a classmate of hers who had not really given it much thought. They got together in a relationship and would come and talk to me periodically about it. After they graduated, by then I would I had left that school too and started teaching at the university. We did some social things together. This would have been a year -6 months lo a year after I had left that teaching job... we were at different institutions by then. C o m i n g out at w o r k is once again the place where the personal shatters the boundaries around the professional image. C h o o s i n g to d o this at w o r k c a n be seen as a n ethical d i l e m m a . This year is the first year that I toyed with the idea of saying, "guess what guys, I'm a lesbian.". . . . I've just gotten to the brink and I've said to my teaching partner 133 that I may have to tell them this year and she said, "why, why should it matter? " So I backed down a bit. I'm still grappling with that.. . .what is the purpose of me coming out? I don't want to make them feel uncomfortable.. . /'/ gives me more freedom to work on gay and lesbian issues because they don't see it as just my issues. I've brought it up as everybody's issue and you all have to deal with it. But I think if they knew for sure I was a lesbian they would think oh she always brings up her own things. So I'm kind of torn with it. W a n t i n g to support y o u n g gay a n d l e s b i a n students so they d o not feel that they a n d their feelings towards the same sex are w r o n g , this teacher is w o r k i n g out what she feels is appropriate behaviour i n her c lassroom. T h e focus group v e r s i o n o f this d i l e m m a appears here. Participant #1: Like the dilemma I had this year, I had two girls in my class. One is going through the coming out process. She was placed in my class because everyone in the school knew that she was a budding lesbian. And they wanted her to be safe and they figured lets get her in (my) class. So she has been with me three years. This year she fell madly in love with another student in the class who wasn't sure even what being a lesbian was or didn't even have very much information about it we talked about it a lot in class so she got the language for it. By the last month of school, these two girls were like draped over each other. We have a lot of lessons on the carpet at elementary. The girls were like draped over each other during class at all limes like sitting one girl inside the other girl's legs with arms around and stuff. My partner and I didn't react to it in any way shape or form. We didn 'I say that is a good thing or a bad thing or anything we just let it go on. But then someone questioned me the last week of school and said would you have let that go on if it had been a boy and a girl. I said oh. I was wanting to protect the girl who is really in love with the other girl and wanting her to feel that she is an okay person. So my boundaries- how much am I willing to allow? How do I give her self confidence and at the same time say gee you know this is getting a little bit loo physical for the class room or sexual, actually, for the classroom? 134 Participant #2: Was it more sexual than affectionate or was that hard to tell? Participant #1: It was hard to tell. Isn't it when someone is on top of someone and they are cuddling and their arms are on their legs and you know like it is not too far? Participant #3: at 6 and 7 and 8 but... Participant #/; at 13- two girls who are fully developed? Participant #2: It is hard to know. Participant #1: So you see my boundaries were really challenged and I don't think I ever talked about it with my teaching partner. When one of them bought the other one perfume we both talked and went oh she bought her perfume- now what is going to happen (laughter in the room). And then there was this big thing about one of them came in and said she bought me perfume. And we said did you thank her (laughter in the room) and she ran out in the hall - thank you, thank you, thank you. She ran back and said it is expensive perfume. I said well she gave you a nice gift and I 'm thinking- oh mygod, oh my god, don 'tyou know what is going on? It has been a real challenge for me but sort of inside me and having to say what are the boundaries around that. When the girl who wasn't the one who was madly in love, who wasn't the budding dyke.... the other one who is kind of being on the fence. Not knowing which way she is going or maybe she is bisexual. But a boy gave her a love poem the last two days of school and our budding dyke was like face down in the couch crying. And I was like how do I counsel this. So I just went up to her- are you okay? Then the other girl came up and put her arm around her and said she is okay because she knows that we are friends for life. It has just been this emotional roller coaster all year. I know that my boundaries aren 't really clear because I 'm wanting to give her all this support. Participant #3 Support with limits. Participant #/ So yeah I have got to figure that out because it could happen to another student. I had a little boy-little boy- he is not a little boy. He came out this year and is now seeking out youth groups. All the teachers give me all the gay kids. 135 But it is a whole new territory. T h e focus group discuss ion about boundaries a n d ethics had a variety o f opinions and concerns expressed. O n e w o m a n is uncomfortable w i t h l e a v i n g the issue o f professionals h a v i n g a relat ionship- part icular ly a sexual one w i t h someone w h o has been a client/student/patient without a definite yes o r no pos i t ion . Participant #1:1 guess what I was uncomfortable about is when you said you are not going to leave it black and white 1 guess that I wish that we.... that it would have come out clear that we did have a strong ethic because having sex with anybody that you have ever been in a power relationship with. That we had a clear ethic around that. Participant #2: Not everybody has a clear ethic around that or has had or still has. Participant #3: and ii depends on the model for one, that is a very male model. The feminist people, coming from a feminist perspective, I know lots of therapists that felt that that was a power differential and down played that. Participant #4:1 think a lot is, we talked about developmental lately, for me a lot of it was for me when I started teaching at university I was'25 years old. Participant #/. You would be the same age as your students! Participant #4. And for me some of the boundaries that came up was I had students were older like that were 40. I was out and they are dealing with their issues about coming out. Had their own personal histories and wanting to talk about that or work through it for them. And my not being clear and not so much on a sexual relationship with them so much as not being clear what are the ramifications around my job. Participant #3: Graduate students with faculty. Participant #4: And other problems and current problems, husband and kids and lawsuits. I mean all that stuff started to come into play and I didn't have the experience or the people to talk to. Participant #3: So up until about ten years ago it was pretty okay for graduate students to get involved with their profs. There were coaches involved with their 136 teams. It is really pretty ordinary. Or if you didn't like it there wasn't any vehicle for that - we are starting to looking at legalizing all of this. We are looking at what 1980 something or other? It has not been that long. Participant #1: I'm not disagreeing. Participant #3: We need to address it. Participant #1:1 'm just not sure. Participant #3: It is more complex. Participant^ 1:1 just want to make sure that how you address it- does the complexity come through. I guess it will if you say there is no black or white but I just don't want it to appear that we aren 't very sure around an ethic around sexual relationships. Participant #2: No because some people have these brick walls or had them- Participant #1:1 know that it is complex. I am thinking back and we talked about this in Seattle. That one workshop that Suzanne Pharr did, when we were talking about adult child sex. That is another thing we need to talk about because one of the big myths is that all of these gay people are predatory towards other people, including kids. So we really have to bring it out in the open and talk more and more about it but again develop a really clear ethic around that. Participant # 3: Maybe separate- there is a difference between wondering and as a growth process of struggling with the issues rather than who believes in no sex. And staying away from the clear markers on the ethics. Look at the dilemma. Look at the decision making process. That is where the story is. Benefi ts at W o r k Despi te negative reactions a n d repressive condit ions , despite l i m i t e d assistance w i t h ethical/ boundary decis ions, these w o m e n are p u s h i n g forward, .us ing their lesbian-ness to educate others a n d i m p r o v e the w o r l d around them. T h i s is done d a i l y i n everyday w o r k situations. T h e y name the problems, disrupt the stereotypes and put real faces to p a i n f u l issues. Schools , hospitals , agencies a n d even prisons g a i n the benefit o f these courageous w o m e n ' s efforts to increase understanding and nurture diversity. 137 I've felt really good about being an out lesbian because I can sort of say hey you know this is how I live my life-1'm out. For some of the women its goodfor them to see that and they can be out about their lovers. They can be out about what their life is like. I remember a client once that look me aside and told me that she was having problems with a couple of the other women in the house. She said it 'sjusl all this lesbian stuff. I just can't stand it. She was quite homophobic and I actually said well we can talk about this but I guess I should let you know I'm a lesbian. She really felt very taken aback and was kind of like oh my God I've offended you. I said no its okay. Its a good opportunity to talk lo me about it. What's the problem. We had this long talk. She said are you really sure that you don't mind talking to me about it. I said I don't because I think it is important. She just had a real aversion to it. I talked to her about the fact that she could continue to do that but it meant that she was going to cut herself off from a group of people. I said you can distance yourself. You can decide that, you have that choice, but you are cutting yourself off from all these possible relationships or friendships. You are judging people on something. You' re going to cut yourself off from part of their lives. She was saying oh I wouldn't overtly ever discriminate against anybody or anything, but there is this other side to it. I know that we have had a good bond but she just hadn 't realized I was a dyke. . . She said I don't think I can change overnight. I said no probably not but you know I'm glad we talked about it and you can ask me anything you want. I just sort of felt like maybe she was walking away knowing that she liked me as a worker and we had had a good rapport. It would make her think what is it that I am afraid of? What is it that is making me say that I don't want lo be involved with women who identify as lesbians? How do I kind of merge that with the fact that I liked this worker and we worked well together and that she is a lesbian. So I feel like at least she walked away with those questions.. .1 also said to her that even if you decide that you aren 't okay with it, it doesn 'l make it okay for you to treat two other women in the house that you are living with, who have just as much right to be here as you have, in a negative way. That is your problem not theirs. 138 In the eighties another lesbian was attempting to teach her classes about diversity i n quite creative ways but d i d e n d up b e i n g s i lenced b y the relations o f r u l i n g . Where I was teaching I was very clear that I was a lesbian and I had a poster on my wall. I see that this sort of transition and growth and this continuum of moving from well its fine if you know- to making it real clear that I'm a lesbian. 1 would have been wearing ties to work and I have a button collection. I don't know that I would ever have worn anything overtly lesbian or gay but very clear that I had far lo the left politics and that issues around marginalization were important and needed to be talked about. During the 5 years I became more and more an activist in that I invited speakers to come and talk in my clinical groups. Most of them were lesbians or gay men and even if they didn't come to talk about being lesbian they came to talk about other issues. One. was a black woman from inner city Detroit and she came to talk about her experiences as a black woman and most of the time she would come out to the groups as a lesbian. Then I had another woman come and talk about her experiences as a fat woman. She also was a lesbian and an activist and pretty " much always she came out to the group but again that wasn't the focus of her being there. Her focus was to talk about her experiences as a fat woman to disrupt these 22 year old farm girls who have come to the big city, to have them kind of wake up and see that not everybody was just like them- of some level of white privilege.... Actually I got in a lot of trouble for doing it. A whole lot of trouble. By the end of this I was written up for including content beyond the scope of the course and 1 was told that I couldn't bring up any of the topics around race, around poverty, around class privilege, around lesbian and gay issues... unless a student brought it up. A n o t h e r w o m a n finds that she is seen as approachable so this induces a n environment were questions c a n be asked b y her heterosexual coworkers . / didn't always get along with the whole little clique gay cohort that worked on that unit but they got a new head nurse at one point. Not new, he'd been on the ward and he was made head nurse, but this was before he was made head nurse and I was working with him. He was a heterosexual male and we got along fine. I remember 139 him saying lo me one night, we're on nights, you know how nights are, there is just the two of you there. So he's wanting to know, he said he wanted to know what this being a lesbian was about for me. He wanted to know more about it and he was scared oj the other ones who were much more out kind of lesbians than me. I think I kind of gave him a bad time too like why does he want to know.. .he said oh gee I'm beginning to wish I hadn't asked this question. So I talked about how it happened for me and how I just had these feelings. I mean whatever he wanted I tried to explain to him something about it. I felt kind of good about that, I felt like I'm approachable. Whereas sometimes when people who are more aggressive and more in your face about it aren't. I think that maybe because I look more like something they are used to that they kind of can talk to me. I just thought this is very interesting that he wouldn't ask these other people who had been on the ward longer but he would come and feel safe to talk to me. . . he could express his ignorance and his desire to know more. So I felt good about that one. U s i n g her l e s b i a n identity this w o m a n intervenes w i t h i n a context to make a difference at a n elementary school . / decided after hearing lots of homophobic name calling- well you just hear the word jag used all the lime, that there has to be a better way to do this. So I slowly started to come out to kids if there was a context for it. I was always saying gay and lesbian positive sort of things and trying to be inclusive and trying to tie it together with other things. . . . but I talked to the staff last year and let them know that I thought I would come out to kids. It was around this time that stuff was happening out in Surrey with the book banning... A couple of these boys had watched way too much t.v. and even seen some inappropriate for their age videos including one with a lesbian sex scene. This is unbelievable. This is grade 2. One of the parents of one of the other boys had phoned me about this. She didn't know I was lesbian at that point either. But she said I just didn't know he was watching this video over there but then he came and told me and I 'm upset. I said well I would be upset if I thought that my kids were watching videos at that age with no supervision. What is 140 the context for this and where did this video come from and is this what the kids think it is about? Anyway a couple of these boys had made mention of this sort of in a snickering way and someone else had made a gay or lesbian comment. Now this didn't all happen in the same day but then I decided look I want to come out. So I told them. 1 said you know 1 been listening to you guys talk and I think that you have a bit of a mixed up idea about what it might mean to be gay or lesbian. I hear this name calling going on and 1 hear you thinking that it is all about sex. I said you know a gay person is just some one who Jails in love and is more comfortable with somebody of the same sex. If it is a man they are more comfortable with a man and if it is a woman with a woman. But it is more than just sex. It is love and a commitment. I said and you probably think that you don't know anybody gay or lesbian because it is not that safe for people. You probably aren 't aware but there are people and I said for example I'm lesbian. One of the boys started to giggle and laugh. (The 2nd boy) said don't do that. It is okay for Ms. X. to be a lesbian and I really like you. ll was really neat and the other boy stopped laughing and kind of looked at (the 2nd boy). B y t a l k i n g honestly to these y o u n g boys she is respecting t h e m a n d herse l f a n d b y enl is t ing the he lp o f other staff, this lesbian continues her w o r k w i t h this y o u n g populat ion. / had done this talk to teachers last spring. I had said I would appreciate it too if I am not the only one around this school that is addressing homophobic name calling. (Talking with a student) I said you are just using that fag word in a way that is kind of derogatory again and that is what (another staff) has already talked to you about. It does hurt people because it is used in the wrong way to hurt them. I said the reason that I pay more attention to it too is because you know I am a lesbian. He kind of looked at me and then he said my grandfather is not going to let me come and talk to you anymore. And I said yeah I know there are people that have a lot of trouble with it. He said well I have a lot of trouble with it. I said yeah I can see that you do. Anyway he was on his way up and out as it was the end and (another student) was actually coming in. (The 1st student) looks at me and says does he 141 know. I said actually (the 2nd student) is one of the first kids I came out to. (The 2nd student) said yeah it is like racism, because (the 2nd student) is part Filipino. He says yeah it is like racism and it is not a good thing. (The 1st student) says well I don't think it is okay and (the 2nd student) said well that is kind of odd isn't it. O n e w o m a n decides to take o n the derogatory comments i n her agency i n a n effort to i m p r o v e the c l imate for minori t ies . We were in a partnership doing multi-cultural counselling and our executive director was making racist comments in the waiting room. I got to the point were I was fed up. I had just had it. I knew that I was taking a chance but I did it anyway. I went to our director. 1 said that is what is going on. It can't go on. We need to talk about it. She wanted to do a one on one. I said no it needs to be the whole agency. So they set up a meeting.... We had a few more management types that coordinated it and facilitated it. And basically I started off by saying this is my experience as a woman and as a lesbian here. I talked about wanting lo heal this place with men and really owned a lot of my stuff and set the tone for some really honest discussion. Wlien I hear those kinds of comments and jokes it hurts. It really hurts and it doesn't make me want to get to know you at all. Then I get this defensive reaction and then it just builds. That is not the only thing- that is homophobia, I hear racist comments, I hear dirty jokes, I hear sexist jokes, that is not okay. Then everybody sort if got in and for the most part it was really a lot of people talked. Then someone else talked about homophobia. One man walked out of the meeting. The executive director wasn't there and he was basically the problem at least one of the problems. Two of the other men were there and I did some debriefing with them. They were very upset that 1 didn't come to them one on one. I said there is no way that I would come to you one on one. That is not safe for me to do. So the only way that I can be safe is in a group where some people will facilitate and where my reality can be checked out. . . . This woman who has not been a close friend, has no investment in me at all steps up and she says you are right. I have heard that myself. I have been appalled at it as I walk down the 142 hallway. And when she said that I just burst into tears. It was just so moving. We had a follow up meeting and of course not a lot was done but I had my day. And as an agency we couldn't afford to be racist, homophobic, sexist. We can't do that. It no longer was tolerable. T h i s teacher's goal is to m a k e the c l a s s r o o m environment safe a n d i n c l u s i v e so that a diversity o f op in ions a n d issues can be raised. / bring up options and alternatives, also- how would that affect gays and lesbians. I do bring the topic up and I have brought it up and I think I bring it up more often every year. I always do lessons on name calling at some point during the year. That usually goes on for about two or three months and in there I do some work on gay and lesbian issues if it's around name calling or if it's around discrimination or prejudice. We did a thing more recently on stereotypes. We did this thing on boy . culture, girl culture, stereotypes and the gay thing came up because the boys said "we're always being called gay, why is that a stereotype and what does that mean". So I guess what I do as a teacher is, I make it a very safe climate for kids to discuss, the issue. So my kids are not giggly about it anymore. My kids are quite able to discuss the issue like well if you were gay they'll just start a sentence like this, if you were gay it would affect you like this wouldn't it?.... I think they know that when anybody does do any homophobic name calling the kids look over to see if I'm reacting. Then if I come over and say, "gee what was that I just heard. I think we need to talk about this some more. " One time 1 had a kid say, "oh for god's sakes why did you say that? Now we're going to have to have name calling lessons." He was really perturbed with the other kids. Like couldn't you just keep your mouth shut. (Teacher) 's going to make us go through these name calling lessons now. If I do hear them I do the whole number around this is a two sided thing. One of the things is you call someone a name it's homophobic and therefore, it's a name to hurt someone first of all. Secondly what you're saying is if a person is gay, it's wrong to be gay and that's why this name works so good as a name call. So go through with them that there is those two things. And how would they feel if they were gay and 143 what if that kid is gay and you've just called him gay. How do you think he feels right now? That he's bad to be gay? What if he is? Don't you want him to have good self esteem? They go "Oh of course we do." They feel really upset that they've even possibly made that person feel uncomfortable. Students feel very comfortable in raising issues about lesbian/gay lives as this example demonstrates. The other day a student of mine put up his hand. We were talking about the stereotype that girls have to stay home and do most of the housework and raise the children. We talked about whether that was true or false to begin with. What was true about it and what was false about it. Also I add things in that it's interesting that you kids all believe that it's not true anymore yet 80% of women do have a job out of the home and come home and do the housework and mostly look after the children. Only so many percent of men do that so we 're reading the stats. They were going, "Wlxat? How could this be?" They were really outraged about it. And then I started talking about it and said, "if you believe the stereotype, what is bad about it for girls and what is bad about it for boys." They talked about how girls had no freedom, no choices, couldn't have a career, were forced to have children even if they didn't want them,were forced to get married even if they didn't want to get married. They came up with all of that. Then we talked about boys and it meant that the boys had to get a job. What if the boy wanted to stay home and take care of the baby? Wltat if the boy couldn't find a job and then he felt really bad because he . couldn't raise the money for his family and they got into all this stuff. Then finally one boy puts up his hand really slowly. I said yes? And he said what if a boy chose to be homosexual and there wasn't a girl and you were just a boy with another boy. Who would do the housework and raise the baby? I said well you might have to adopt a baby but yes, that's a good question. Who would do the housework? So all the kids decided that the person who liked to do the housework would do the housework or you would take turns and do 50% each of the housework or you'd hire someone to do the housework. If no one wanted to do it well then I guess you would 144 have to hire someone to do that job because the housework has to get done. So it was really interesting because we talked a lot about. . . what is a girl's role and what is a boy's role. I said to them I've heard some kids in here call other kids tomboys and maybe they're not tomboys. Maybe they're just girls who like to do those things and what makes them boy things? They were all like "oh my god, what makes (hem boy things? " So I see my role as a teacher to constantly challenge (heir assumptions. Whenever (hey bring up something, to say do you think that is really true? Do you think that really is like that or does it have to be like that or do you want it to be like that? Does that work for people? Just constantly bringing it up and planting those little seeds and they sort of go, I hadn't thought about that, let me get back to you.... So I think there is definitely a climate in my room of safety around that. The kids know that I would deal with that. . .. I have no fear and I will face it over and over again. Jai lhouse romances came up d u r i n g a i n t e r v i e w w i t h a co-researcher/participant w h o h a d w o r k e d w i t h inmates and ex-cons. She handles the issue o f l e s b i a n act iv i ty i n j a i l w i t h a different attitude t h a n her heterosexual co-worker . (A co-worker) is the one who said things like women come into this institution, and they 're heterosexual and they leave here homosexual. It is a huge problem. They are just coming out in droves as homosexuals and they come in as heterosexuals. They are being turned while they are in the institution. My jaw just dropped. I said what are you talking about? She said it is a major issue these women are being "converted". It is wrong. I was sort of on some level almost laughing because it was so crazy. I said well for one thing it doesn't sound like such a bad thing to me (laughs). It sounds fine and the other thing is seriously, where are you getting this from? What are you talking about? Yes women come into this institution and some have relationships with other women. Some don't. Some have before they come in and some only have relationships with other woman in the institution, jailhouse love affairs, and then they go back out and live a heterosexual life style on the outside. Some women identify as lesbian. The idea that there are all these lesbians in here 145 changing women and staff that are lesbians changing women, because that was the insinuation too, was lesbian staff doing this, as well as the lesbian activity in the institution. I said I don 7 buy that. I think that people make choices and explore and all sorts of things happen. Have varied identities, discover things about themselves in different situations. I wouldn 7 label any of the women anything other than they want to label themselves. She really was quite defensive because I think she thought that I was saying she was homophobic, but she was being homophobic big time! C o m i n g O u t to Parents M y interviews began w i t h discussions o f f a m i l y l i fe . A s these w o m e n mature a n d o w n their lesbian-ness, they b e g i n to m a k e decis ions around h o w to cope w i t h this s t igmatized identity. C o m i n g out to f a m i l y members is a major m a r k e r a n d this inc ludes s ib l ings , parents, other relatives a n d for some, husbands a n d c h i l d r e n . A l t h o u g h everyone's f a m i l y members are aware o f their lesbian-ness, no one seems satisfied w i t h the current c o m m u n i c a t i o n or acceptance they a n d their f a m i l i e s have about their lesbian identity a n d on-going l ives. S o m e o f the stories were extremely traumatic such as a l o n g custody battle. S o m e stories are very hea l ing for the relat ionships o f the people i n v o l v e d . I imagine that re- v i s i t i n g and re-negotiating this topic w i l l o c c u r m a n y t imes i n these w o m e n ' s on-going relationships w i t h their closest relatives. Stories o f c o m i n g out to s ib l ings , c h i l d r e n , husbands a n d friends were m a n y and var ied. O b v i o u s l y not everyone has c h i l d r e n or a husband so these stories were less i n n u m b e r a l though fasc inat ing a n d eventful . D u e to the extensiveness o f the data 1 have i n c l u d e d here only the stories o f c o m i n g out to parents. E v e r y o n e h a d this story a n d this is a n important m a r k e r for the lesbian/gay c o m m u n i t y w i t h the quest ion "so are y o u out to your parents?" frequently asked. / certainly knew I had lesbian feelings and didn 7 tell anybody. When I did come out which was after 16 years with my ex husband, well 13 years we were married, my Mom was devastated. She just never saw it coming. She really loved him. One of the things I said was I knew ever since I was a teenager. And she said well I sure could have accepted it better then than now. And I said I don 7 think so. . . basically my Dad seemed to lake it better than my Mom. He didn 7 go through all this gudt 146 and shame business. Although shame was there, maybe that was on Mom's behalf because it is a small town. I know when I had come, out to someone else in the small town, neither one of them was too pleased with that, because she was a bit of a gossip. She was a younger woman but the context of how I came out to her was honest and it was actually a good thing lo do. In fact it gave my Mom someone to talk to. This woman was really supportive and my Mom didn't tell anybody for years. . . . it has been interesting lo watch her coming out process to the point where she can actually have a few good jokes about it too. She is okay, totally okay with me being out now as well as can be really. Interviewer. So your Dad is just supportive? Participant: He never had any wild negative reactions and both my parents have been supportive in terms of facilitating access with my kids at their place and financially sometimes from time to time because I have had huge legal fees. I'm still paying them off but my relationship with my Dad is just completely different. So when I say supportive yeah in an indirect way but we don't really talk about me being a lesbian or anything or what that is really like. T h i s w o m a n has a n e m b o d i e d awareness o f the connect ion between oppress ion a n d depression w h e n she feels l iberated b y sending that c o m i n g out letter to her parents. You can't tell them, you're in the closet, you have relationships that break up you can't say to your family whatever is going on. So it's just very painful and they have no idea what I've been through. Then I thought you should tell them. I think part of it was the girlfriend I was with, told her parents, although I would never have done it the way she told them. Never, never. She is a different type of personality than me and doesn't really give a shit about people's feelings. Anyway I'm just very protective of my family and so I wrote this letter and I remember the day I mailed it. It was a very interesting letter because one paragraph was about the weather and one paragraph was about being lesbian and. the rest of the letter was all about people that we knew and what was going on and blah blah blah. I think the paragraph about being lesbian just said something about the reason that I have been 147 unhappy and depressed or one of the reasons or I'm in therapy again and one of the things that I'm trying to deal with is my sexuality. I'm lesbian and you probably are aware of this but.. .in order to improve, it's helpful to tell people which is why I'm writing you. It was just this one paragraph. It was interesting when I dropped that into the mailbox and let go of it, it was just like this huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It was like oh my god, oppression is related to depression. Something in there, I just felt so much better. They hadn't got it yet, it was still sitting in the little red box but you know I just felt like free, free, free. So I did get a letter back. My friends are going, did you hear back yet? It was very interesting because my mother had one paragraph about the weather and one paragraph about my being lesbian and then about three pages about what was going on with people so she just took my lead. She talked about that they had some idea, it wasn't a total shock. She felt . badly that I had this pain or whatever and that she was concerned that I would continue to receive discrimination during my life. Then she just went on, it was very nice actually... .it was just fine. That was that. Several months later, I went home and when I met them at the airport I could see pain in both their eyes when they saw me but I was just my usual self and talked and chatted. They came out of it, they were fine. Okay this is (our daughter) and she's this big lesbian. They say when you come out to your parents you put them into the closet and they go through their own whatever. But then somehow being with me and me just being me. And of course, we never talked about it. This woman feels her parents have become less judgmental as they age and can therefore accept her lesbian-ness. It was a real relief when I finally told my parents. Even though they don't completely understand. They have changed enough over the years so that, especially my Mom could say I just want you to be happy. I don't think she could have said that ten years ago. You know she can now, she is in her seventies. She is a lot less judgmental and more accepting than she was. It was a relief I have enough things to worry about (laughs). I actually came out to my Mom because I 148 didn 'tfeel I could with my Dad. I told her she could tell him (laughs). I had my Mom tell my Dad because he is harder to talk to on that level and my Mom, she kind of suspected I think after a while. I've lived away from them for years and years and years and they live in the Vancouver area. So finally after many years I was living in the same area as them. They were a little bit more aware of my life and stuff and 1 think that she 'd suspected. So I finally took her out and, this is probably two years ago something like that, and I took her out and had coffee with'her. I told her and she said well I suspected and she was really sweet about it. I was quite upset and I said I had been afraid to tell her. She said what did you think I was going to do and I said well you know that your attitude to gays and lesbians has not been harsh, but it has not been accepting either. She has seen it as abnormal and dysfunctional and kind of dark and lonely I think. I said I remember things being said. I had debates with them about gay rights over the last decade and their response has been fairly heated. They have believed that gays and lesbians shouldn't have children things like that. So I said those things to her and I just said those things lead me to believe that this would be fairly difficult to accept. I know that you wouldn't stop loving me. She was really sweet. She put her hand over my hand and said you know I completely accept you and I want you to be happy. You don't have to worry it's okay for you to be who you are. That was really telling because I don't think my Mom could have done that ten years ago. And I think she was able to now because she has made some shifts. She doesn't completely understand. At one point in this discussion she said it just makes me sad that you 11 never be a mother. I think you would make a good mother. I said it doesn't mean I can't be a mother. Mom. That is something that is a myth. There is all sorts of ways I could be a mom if I decided I wanted to be... .She told my Dad and he phoned me the next day. It's very difficult for him to talk about emotional things but he did his best. He said well if that's the way things are then well than that's how we accept that and we love you. He couldn't say that's great but he tried. He tried really hard to say it's okay, we accept you. I know he doesn't understand in many, many, many 149 ways but he's not going to. He's shifted too though and he's become less judgmental and he tries really hard to understand so I didn't have any condemnation from either of them. T h i s w o m a n d i d not t e l l her parents, a lesbian f r i e n d t o l d t h e m for her. Someone else came out to them and it was a horrible situation. It wasn't my choice. It wasn't when I wanted it. And I had a big pile to sort of clear up. I will never forgive her but anyway what I did with it, with my family was that I talked to my mother after. I think what happened was my friend came out to my father. The next morning my mother was pretty shaky so we went for a drive. So I told her and her first reaction . . . . she blamed herself and that is a very common theme. I should have done something different and then the next one was I'm really afraid for you. So they were two very truthful, common reactions. It is my fault and it is going to be a hard life. Interviewer: Okay so that was your mother so how was your father with it? Participant: He was drunk at the time. It was not very good so what I did was. . . . I put that woman on a plane and got her out of my life. . . . and then I went home a couple weeks later and sort of sat down with them and it was much better. I mean it is funny my mother knew, but didn't know, all those years and my father knew.. .his reaction was pretty well sort of none. He didn't say a lot-1've thought that was so- . You can count on us. Both of them were saying that at the time. My mother said I wish that wasn 'l the case. Are you sure?(laughs)... yeah the thing is I think that my mother would understand it. She has had good woman friends all her life. She understands the love between women but she just doesn't get the sex part. I don't think that women her age get the sex part anyway.... I don't think my father had many questions cuz what I found out is my friend told him everything about lesbian sex. You name it boom, boom, boom, boom. I don't think he had any questions left. T h e relationships i n her f a m i l y are distant and p a i n f u l for this co- researcher/participant. / want as part of your data to have you note that we didn't talk about between family 150 members the first time. And we didn't talk about it because I didn't bring it up.... You know it's much easier to talk about success stories then talk about something that is still fairly painful and unclear in my mind. So my, I guess I haven't ever had one of those, Mom, Dad, I'm a lesbian conversations. What we've had are accusations thrown at me that I have deliberately stepped outside of and said, "when you're not so angry and you want to talk about it, we can talk about it.". . . . My parents came to visit me when (my ex-lover) and I were living together. So I'd been out a couple of years and they'd come to visit. . .. We are all of us going to dinner and my mother turns to me and said, "if you'd lived somewhere other than (a particular area) you two would be taken for a couple of queers.".... It just sorts of gets dropped because we're all heading out lo dinner, literally walking out the door. It's kind of how my mother has conversations and doesn't have conversations. Like they get dropped at the last moment.... We don't have a lot of contact. So I think that it's a lot of our family dynamics rather than about me being a lesbian because when (my ex-lover) and 1 broke up and I needed some help financially getting the house. I put the money into the house but I needed to buy a portion of it from her, buy her out. My mother loaned me some money and it wasn't clear that she understood what that was all about. I think she understood what it was about but we didn't talk about it. She was willing to sort of be there. It felt supportive but it never was discussed like about how it was supportive or this is what I'm doing and why. This is what I need and why. We never had those conversations.... I'm therefor my brother's wedding and my Mom starts in with (your brother) thinks that you're nothing but... .one of those queers... .1 want my Mom to own her questions. So I say when you're ready to ask me your own questions about my life and you're ready to show an interest in who I am then we can have this conversation. Until then I'm not going to answer (my brother's) questions if he's not here. Interviewer: And your father? Participant: My father's sort of nondescript in my life. I mean he's physically there but we don't talk. I think it's just it's like how we are as a family in that we just don't 151 talk about meaningful things. So this is meaningful and it's meaningful in a way that would probably have some pain and hurt for my mother and we don't talk about it. We don't talk about anything that has any pain or hurt or really much in terms of accomplishments or successes either. We just don't have meaningful conversations. Even though on the surface we might appear to interact on a fairly regular basis. As in phone calls. Probably once a month.. . . I know from being in touch with my cousin with e-mail notes that my mother has asked or knows or has talked to her about it. Interviewer: About your being lesbian? Participant: Yes, I know that she knows and that she's curious, she's talking. Interviewer: You seem pleased that she is talking to other people about it. Participant: Well, am I pleased? Well I guess it just takes away that - is my mother so stupid she doesn't get it sort of question, when it's hard for me to imagine she is because I don't think of her that way. It's really this place of sadness for me that I can't have a relationship with her that works. Also I'm a bit embarrassed that here I am this lesbian who's out everywhere in her life and I haven't had the conversation with my parents which seems to be kind of ironic... I'm really.. .I'm proud of how 1am a lesbian in the world. That means something to me and there's this little bit of shame and embarrassment around how that's not the case in sort of my biological family... .what it does for me is to be real clear around my relationship with (my partner) around getting wills and durable power of attorney and all those things to have our relationship, if something should happen to me, be acknowledged. T h i s f o l l o w i n g c o m i n g out to Dad story is very m o v i n g . / was saying, "oh my god my father's coming! I can't come out to him. We have to de-dyke the house. " So I really put (my lover) through it. I said I can't tell him.... you'll have to be my roommate. I think it really hurt her actually. So he arrives, he gets off the plane and we're waiting for his luggage and he starts, "so are you dating any men?" I'm like, "no" and I thought I'd answered his question so I didn't think it 152 was going lo come up over and over again. Then we drive out to the beach and we're walking along there and he's like "Oh there's a young lifeguard why don't you go and talk to him." I'm like "Dad!" "There's a single life guard" he says. I mean how do you know he's single and he's I ike 22. I mean get a grip. So I thought oh this is going to be really hard. So we went to the house and I introduced (my partner) as my roommate and showed him his room and said, "(my partner) has moved in with me" and did the whole pretending thing. Then it was really quite uncomfortable. . . . The next morning we were sitting there at breakfast having coffee and he says, "so I really wish you had someone to spend your time with, lo do things with, you're going to be so lonely. I was against your marriage . . . but you need someone. Have you thought of dating men." I just thought, I can't do this. So 1 said to him, "You're sixty-nine and I'm forty-Jive and I'm not spending the next ten days lying to you." I could see that the lies were going to have to start getting bigger and bigger. He wasn't going to let up, I could see it: He keeps at you and I thought, oh man, I can't do this. I said, "Dad, I've got to tell you the truth," and he said, "What?" I said, "(My partner) is not my roommate. I'm in love with her. She's my lover." I think he knew it. I think he just sat there for a few minutes and I burst into tears. He got up out oj his chair, sort of stumbled out of his chair and came over and pulled me into this big bear hug. Dad's a big man, and just held me and he'd never done that. He'd done that once when I was 12 and I think I'd gotten into a fight with my sister and he came and held me. He just held on for dear life and I was bawling and bawling and maybe crying for all the hassles with my brothers and sisters and missing my mother and just said to him, "I was just so sure you were going to reject me." After he rejected my marriage I thought well this is over the top. I thought he would disapprove of me, reject me. I thought he wouldjust say I can't stay in your home I have to leave. He's very religious. So I was bawling and bawling and he was saying, I think he said to me, "you're my oldest daughter, I always will love you." Something like that, I thought God you know, it was like the first time he'd ever said that, you're my oldest daughter, I'll always love you, it doesn't matter what 153 you do, I'll always love you. I said, "you know I'm very happy, we have a good life together;" I'm telling him these things and then (mypartner) walks in and I'm like, I said "oh shit." (My partner) was being aloof. I said to Dad, "let me do this again." [went and grabbed (my partner's) hand and pulled her over and said, "Dad I'd like you to meet my partner and (my partner) I'd like you to meet my Dad." They shook hands and Dad sort of hugged her and said, "what did you think I would say or do? Did you think I would hit you or something?"... .My father said, "I don't understand it but that's the way it is."... .But then he went to our land with us and spent a whole week building on our cabin. He said to me things like, "well if I lived out here I'd come and help you out all the time buildingyour cabin." We talked and talked and we had a great visit. O n e o f the consequences o f h a v i n g so m u c h data is that not a l l the stories co l lec ted can be u s e d S o m e o f the stories not i n c l u d e d here are about c o m i n g out to s ib l ings , to c h i l d r e n , to husbands a n d the 'ensuing consequences that at t imes were very painful a n d sometimes supportive. O f t e n there is some re-negotiating o f i n i t i a l reactions as t i m e goes by. N o n e o f m y participants are where they w o u l d l i k e to be i n the f o r m o f acceptance, openness a n d c o n n e c t i o n w i t h a l l the members o f their fami l ies i n regards to the lesbian- ness o f their l ives. There is a n extremely painful custody battle that I w i l l leave u n t o l d because I d o n ' t have the r o o m to do it just ice i n this study except to say that an excel lent mother and esteemed professional lost custody o f her c h i l d r e n w i t h her lesbian-ness b e i n g the determinant. There is a story o f a teenage son w h o becomes confused and acts out as he adjusts to his parents' d ivorce. There are aunts that have to keep quiet about their l ives i n front o f their nieces and nephews. F a m i l y tradit ions around Chr is tmas are m i s s e d for m a n y years due to reject ion b y s ibl ings. O n a s l ight ly less g l o o m y note, one co- researcher/participant stated that the m o m e n t o f c o m i n g out h a d never b e e n real ly negative. It was the nervousness/fear before h a n d that she f o u n d di f f icul t . A m o n g s t these stressful personal situations, these educated, l e s b i a n h e l p i n g professionals continue to w o r k at their d e m a n d i n g jobs . These j o b s , sometimes not w e l l 154 p a i d a n d undervalued, are very m u c h about car ing for and about others. T h e y give their service to a society that continues to struggle w i t h a c k n o w l e d g i n g their existence or treating their relationships i n a non-discr iminatory way. Chapter F i v e D i s c u s s i o n T h e heterosexism i n the l ives o f these w o m e n creates consistent repressive condi t ions d u r i n g their g r o w i n g up years a n d ear ly adulthood. O n e o f m y co- researcher/participants tel ls o f a d i s c u s s i o n w i t h her parents about the " m e n t a l i l lness o f h o m o s e x u a l s " m a k i n g a n i m p r e s s i o n o n her w h e n she was 5 o r 6 years o f age. T h e shame due to heterosexism that N e i s e n (1990) discusses or the internal ized oppression o u t l i n e d b y Phetersen (1986) is seen throughout the memories o f these w o m e n . T h e y are affected b y m o v i e s where lesbians are " k i l l e d o f f , court cases about w a s h r o o m sex amongst gay m e n that lead to suicides, literature that pathologizes same-sex love, a n d the oppressive s i lence b y the older lesbians around them. O n e w o m a n comments o n the I970's l e s b i a n bar scene not ing the class differences o f these h i d d e n away places and h o w these sites felt far r e m o v e d f r o m her w e l l established profess ional posi t ion. She goes o n to m e n t i o n the issue o f a l c o h o l i s m that she observed there that she attributes to internal ized oppress ion a n d self- hatred. Substance abuse, suicides and the l o w s e l f esteems that often under l ie these, are a l l related to the shame d y n a m i c that N e i s e n (1990) points out. T h i s d y n a m i c is seen w i t h other forms o f abuse for e x a m p l e , c h i l d h o o d sexual abuse, w h i c h have recovery/healing m o d e l s that N e i s e n w o u l d l i k e to see m o d i f i e d and a p p l i e d to c o u n s e l l i n g w i t h gay m e n a n d lesbians. I n this study, descriptions o f the c o m i n g out process vary considerably w i t h m a n y reveal ing the c o n f l i c t i n g feelings i n v o l v e d . F o r e x a m p l e the co-researcher/participants used descriptors such as " p o s i t i v e " but "dangerous a n d a secret", a " r e l i e f but " i t sounds so u g l y " , and "very traumatic but I h a d to m a k e a d e c i s i o n " . B r i s k i n (1991) outl ines h o w the messages around sexual i ty are contradictory for w o m e n so f i n d i n g pleasure i n something considered deviant that is shrouded i n si lence c a n be c r a z y - m a k i n g for lesbians. There was also m e n t i o n o f some b e n e f i c i a l aspects o f lesbian-ness such as the increased i n t i m a c y that is stronger than society 's negative messages, for example , " i t was l i k e c o m i n g out w i t h your 155 best f r iend yet there was that interest a n d exci tement o f not b e i n g best fr iends". T h e empowerment o f integrating a n aspect o f s e l f is ref lected i n comments such as " y o u get heady and e m p o w e r e d a n d there is a rea l freeing o f energy". In this study I interpret the s e l f protective measure o f fragmentation w i t h i n the psyche as a n internal compartmental izat ion. T h e subconscious mater ia l i n one w o m a n ' s d r e a m depicts a n e x a m p l e o f these inner processes o f awareness b e g i n n i n g to surface. A n o t h e r w o m a n describes her p s y c h o l o g i c a l " u n b u r y i n g " a n d pee l ing away the layers i n her m i n d to uncover her same sex desires. T h e i n w a r d focus o n their process b y these t w o w o m e n was a gift to the research. T h e stories shared b y the four other w o m e n d i d not reflect this internal awareness. Instead f a l l i n g i n love w i t h a w o m a n was the catalyst for their b e c o m i n g conscious o f l e s b i a n desires. Further d iscuss ion on integrating the aspects o f this journey to lesbian awareness i n c l u d i n g gender e m b o d i e d experiences and compartmenta l izat ion c a n be f o u n d i n chapter six: E x t e r n a l compartmenta l i za t ion is h o w i have expl icated the need o f many lesbians, i n the past and sometimes i n the present, to sect ion o f f parts o f one 's l i f e f r o m others after c o m i n g out to themselves. T h i s is another s e l f protective gesture but done consciously . A b r a m ' s (1996) grounded theory m o d e l has ident i f ied a s i m i l a r strategy and c a l l e d this the h i d i n g stage i n the process that lesbians go through as they learn to deal w i t h heterosexism. Stay ing closeted is a c o m m o n strategy especia l ly i n w o r k environments where j o b loss c o u l d result i f lesbian-ness is revealed. B o a t w r i g h t et a l . (1996) discuss this under the theme d e a l i n g w i t h societa l h o m o p h o b i a . T h e fear that is u n d e r l y i n g what I have c a l l e d external compartmenta l izat ion is reflected i n one co-researcher/participant's story o f a g o n i z i n g over what to wear to w o r k as a y o u n g teacher so that she c o u l d h ide any possible suggestion o f her lesbian-ness. Further evidence o f this d y n a m i c are the sleepless nights exper ienced after b e i n g seen w i t h her lover b y her co-worker . E x t e r n a l compartmenta l i za t ion as discussed by another co-researcher/participant i n c l u d e d c o n f i n i n g her lesbian l i f e to trips to other cit ies i n a n attempt to protect her professional reputation at home. Fears o f negative material and e m o t i o n a l consequences are what keep lesbians i n the closet. Pharr (1988), i n her d iscuss ion o f h o m o p h o b i a , sees it as a w e a p o n o f the white , 156 elite ruling patriarchy. Unfortunately there are numerous examples of very detrimental reactions to lesbian identity described in this chapter such as discrimination in hiring practices and in immigration policies, sexual harassment at work, harassment on the street, and actual job loss. Fortunately, under the theme support/allies, there are examples of some positive reactions such as kindness and caring, comradery, and advocacy shown to some of these lesbians by co-workers, supervisors, academic committees and school principals. Some of the attitudes and actions described here would be examples of the nurturance instead of tolerance advocated by Schreier (1995). Dealing with lesbian-ness at work brought out some important issues in these helping professionals' lives. I listened to the struggles we all had as we attempted to locate our experiences, often as closeted lesbians or in the grey area before we are fully cognizant of our proclivities, into the existing professional frameworks surrounding us. We questioned boundaries and ethical decisions in our present less closeted circumstances, and we realized we are still sailing in uncharted waters. Some of the ethical/boundary issues revolve around when/how/why to come out at work, with clients,students,co-workers and supervisors. What behaviours are allowable in our particular classroom/work situation depending on the gender, age and sexual orientation of all concerned? Do we help other women who are struggling with their sexuality when we are in the closet in our roles of teacher/nurse/social worker/counselor? Do we socialize with clients/ patients/students? Is a life enhancing friendship/ relationship with someone we met in a professional role possible/impossible? Where do we draw boundaries and why do we draw them, between our personal and professional lives? What information about oneself is private and what is to be revealed in a public setting when you are a lesbian? I found Heyward's (1993) lesbian feminist observations of the relations of ruling and their oppressive nature in the context of our everyday helping professional relationships, very illuminating and insightful. As lesbian helping professionals, these women have been trying to sort out how to make decisions in the face of rules which don't always seem to fit. Somehow Heyward's analysis seemed helpful to consider as she explores the patriarchal, heterosexist, and dualistic nature that the professional/client relationship and subsequent 157 ethics are based on. A s I e x a m i n e d the ethics a n d boundary issues that seeped through the lesbian/career l i fe history interviews there seemed to be a m o r e extensive d i s c u s s i o n needed and I have attempted to deal w i t h this i n chapter six. T h e stories I have i n c l u d e d under benefits at w o r k i n chapter f ive are probably the most i n s p i r i n g to me. These w o m e n use their lesbian-ness and the insights that c o m e w i t h b e l o n g i n g tb a s t igmatized m i n o r i t y group, i n creative, educat ional ways. B a k e r (1991) discusses the need for d e r a i l i n g the heterocentricity i n educat ional institutions and practices. It appears that this is a c o m m i t t m e n t these w o m e n are current ly l i v i n g i n their c lassrooms a n d w o r k situations. T h i s use o f se l f i n professional relationships seems to m a k e a difference w i t h a l l types o f diverse populations. C h i l d r e n a n d adults a l i k e are treated w i t h honesty and respect, as m y co-researcher/participants respect themselves a n d their relationships. Space is made not just for themselves but for others w h o are different f r o m the prescribed n o r m . M a k i n g connections w i t h those suffering f r o m other oppressions, they inc lude strategies i n their w o r k for education around r a c i s m , s e x i s m , heterosexism, a b l e i s m , poverty, and fat oppression. T h e y develop increas ing awareness o f divers i ty as a n important role i n their everyday professional interactions. B o a t w r i g h t et a l . (1996) discuss h o w the lesbians i n their study also brought increased s k i l l s i n dea l ing w i t h divers i ty and oppress ion to their w o r k environments as a result o f their lesbian-ness a n d their i n v o l v e m e n t i n the lesbian c o m m u n i t y . A d v a n c e d insights into s o c i a l i z a t i o n and sexual i ty are surfacing as one o f m y co-researcher/participants discusses her understanding o f j a i l h o u s e romances. H e r w i s d o m into the f lu id i ty o f sexual behaviour a n d the e n t w i n i n g o f this behaviour w i t h the surrounding societal condit ions , seems very p r o f o u n d to me. I n this study those w o r k i n g w i t h c h i l d r e n seem to be p a v i n g the w a y for a better future. B r o a d e r m i n d s c a n ' t help but be d e v e l o p i n g g iven the content these w o m e n are b r i n g i n g to their c lassrooms and c o u n s e l l i n g offices. Students at universit ies and the p u b l i c i n the c o m m u n i t y are chal lenged a n d e n r i c h e d b y c o m i n g into contact w i t h any one o f these l e s b i a n professionals i n c lassrooms and c o m m u n i t y agencies. These lesbians have m o v e d into more proactive abi l i t ies and practices at their places o f e m p l o y m e n t a n d continue to w o r k for change i n inst i tut ional structures. 158 This is not the case i n many social service agencies as O 'Br i en (1994) found in her interviews with lesbian, gay and bisexual youth in group homes and shelters in Toronto: In most o f these facilities the youth "had to contend with 'institutional silence' concerning lesbian and gay male sexuality, were at risk of verbal and physical abuse, were isolated and forced to remain closeted" (p. 37). In most residences the social service workers who remained closeted themselves, were complied: with the institutional silence and this was detected by the youth in their care. She found that the small number o f feminist group homes had a much different stance. The lesbian youths reported that these homes offered a recognition o f the diversity o f sexualities, made information available on lesbian community events and some even had openly lesbian workers. There is much work needed to create social institutions where al l staff feel safe and supported in bringing their queer identities to work and then can help give equal service and create safety for lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and gay clients. As they discussed coming out to parents, some o f my co-researcher participants seemed to be at their most vulnerable. One woman expressed feeling relieved that I didn't ask about this area o f her life initially. She remains unable to have a conversation with her parents about this major area of her life. The shame due to heterosexism (Neisen, 1990) is noticeable as my co-researcher/participants worry about how their parents wi l l react to the news of their daughters' lesbian-ness. Fears of rejection and the loss of their relationship with parents as well as casting shame onto the family are noted. A l l these lesbians have some on-going contact with their parents and most have had at least one either verbal or written coming out discussion. There is still a dissatisfaction expressed by most of the participants at how the subject is still very rarely discussed with parents and siblings. One co-researcher/participant has a better relationship now with her father since she came out to him. Unfortunately this is an exception. Acceptance and interest about their intimate relationships from significant relatives seems to be a goal that is not yet reached by these women. We have seen in this chapter how heterosexism surrounds and invades the psyches and lives of these lesbians. As they make it through their own coming out processes they 159 then strategized, sometimes for years, o n k e e p i n g this secret outside o f their professional l ives so that they c o u l d r e m a i n e c o n o m i c a l l y v iable . In recent years, they are t a k i n g more a n d m o r e r isks , c o m i n g out i n a n educat ional context a n d u s i n g their lesbian-ness to disrupt heterosexism a n d other oppressions i n the c lassrooms a n d c o m m u n i t y agencies i n w h i c h they work . A b r a m s (1996) noted this proactive stance i n her study o f lesbians w h o h a d reached a l e v e l o f comfort w i t h their lesbian-ness. M y tit le is A m a z i n g Grace(s) because I f i n d the courage, creat ivi ty a n d honesty o f this journey towards everyday a c t i v i s m quite remarkable a n d worthy o f recognit ion. 160 Chapter S i x : D i s c u s s i o n a n d Future R e s e a r c h In this f ina l chapter, I b e g i n by t a l k i n g about h o w s o c i a l movements have p l a y e d a role i n the social/pol i t ical/historical contexts o f these l ives a n d this research. T h e themes o f f a m i l y , gender s o c i a l i z a t i o n a n d career w i l l be e x p l o r e d further a l o n g w i t h an integrated d i s c u s s i o n o f these s i x journeys to lesbian awareness. L i f e histories, a c c o r d i n g to M a r s h a l l a n d R o s s m a n (1995), c a n b r i n g problems i n professions to l ight a n d w i t h this i n m i n d this chapter continues to explore the issues o f professional ethics a n d boundaries. I also i n c l u d e some suggestions for future research a l o n g w i t h a d i s c u s s i o n o f the l imitat ions o f this study, many o f w h i c h o n l y became apparent i n hindsight. I have ended w i t h some recommendat ions for future programs for h e l p i n g professional educat ion a n d a f i n a l w o r d f r o m each o f the s i x co-researcher/participants. N e w S o c i a l M o v e m e n t s In m y study, the theme o f c l a i m i n g lesbian identity, m i g h t seem almost inevitable w i t h the increased v i s i b i l i t y a n d "outness" o f larger numbers o f lesbians a n d gay m e n i n the 1990's and the ava i lab i l i ty o f i n f o r m a t i o n i n numerous p u b l i c contexts. Y e t , I s t i l l t h i n k that m a n y lesbians, especia l ly those w i t h professional careers, do not fee l able to take the r isks a n d suffer the consequences that b e i n g p u b l i c l y out might br ing . R o s s (1995) states " w e need to ask for w h o m is outness a n avai lable a n d affordable option? W e need to recal l that the vast majority o f lesbians (and gay men) are not out, lead double l ives , and struggle to be w h o l e h u m a n be ings" (p. 230). T h e stories I have gathered also need to be considered i n l ight o f past contexts where lesbians were less v i s i b l e . A l t h o u g h the lesbians i n m y study were w i t h i n an age range o f ten years, their c o m i n g out covered a larger span, f r o m the late sixties to the early nineties. Stories f r o m the experiences o f lesbians i n the seventies a n d eighties are embedded i n an h is tor ica l , p o l i t i c a l a n d s o c i a l c l imate where the need for secrecy a n d to stay c loseted i n most areas o f their l ives seemed m u c h m o r e acute. W i t h o u t t w o o f these n e w soc ia l movements , the W o m e n ' s L i b e r a t i o n M o v e m e n t and the L e s b i a n and G a y L i b e r a t i o n M o v e m e n t , this research c o u l d not have been c o n c e i v e d m u c h less have c u l m i n a t e d i n such a v i s i b l e c l a i m i n g o f lesbian identity. F e m i n i s m is the 161 o l d e r o f these movements a n d is the context not o n l y for research o n lesbians but also for some o f the cont inued development o f qual i tat ive research. W e need m o r e documentat ion and research o n the very successful nature o f these t w o , at t imes over lapping , movements w i t h their educat ional strategies. S e l m a n (1991) mentions the role that n e w s o c i a l movements have on participatory democracy as they engage i n "strongly adversarial a n d confrontational tactics"(p. 135). H e points out that they have a n awareness o f the need for "consciousness r a i s i n g a m o n g the general p u b l i c " (p. 135). " T h e feminist movement has no organisational center, but is rather a vast array o f semi- formal a n d i n f o r m a l "groupings at a l l levels o f s o c i a l a n d p o l i t i c a l s t ructures"(Newman, 1995, p. 255) A d u l t educat ion w h i c h c o m e s f r o m a whi te , m a l e , heterosexist t radi t ional base has been very s l o w to acknowledge a n d study these educat ional strategies o f the feminist movement w h i c h has h a d a p r o f o u n d i m p a c t o n society ( B u t t e r w i c k , 1987). It has b e e n even more reticent to explore l e s b i a n a n d gay educat ional efforts ( H i l l , 1995). O b v i o u s l y this needs to change a n d is c h a n g i n g as m y thesis exempl i f ies . A s N e w m a n (1995) points out, adult educat ion " c a n play a role i n soc ia l a c t i o n b y p r o v i d i n g people w i t h the opportunities to analyse p o w e r " ; to " e x a m i n e modes o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n a n d cooperat ion" i n these k i n d s o f movements; and to p l a n " l o c a l i s e d a c t i o n " (p.255). T o help provide the support/expertise for this w o r k to be done i n adult educat ion w e need to increase the numbers o f feminis t a n d lesbian professors/researchers. It is d i f f i c u l t for students to w o r k i n this area i f there is no faculty w i t h knowledge or interest avai lable . B r o a d e n i n g the knowledge/research base about sexual m i n o r i t i e s i n a l l the s o c i a l sciences i n c l u d i n g educat ion c a n have a t r ick le d o w n effect as this i n f o r m a t i o n impacts students a n d practioners a n d sometimes the general p u b l i c . I n the next three subsections o f this f inal chapter I e x p a n d further o n three themes ident i fed i n chapters 4 a n d 5: (1) f a m i l y , gender soc ia l i zat ion a n d career, (2) journey to lesbian awareness, (3) ethics and boundaries. F a m i l y . G e n d e r S o c i a l i z a t i o n and Career T h e gender de l ineat ion o f the roles for m e n a n d w o m e n i n the s o c i a l i z i n g inst i tut ion o f f a m i l y is evident i n each o f the co-researcher/participants' stories o f g i r lhood. T h e 162 public/private b i n a r y w i t h its mascul ine/feminine a n d paid/unpaid labour is obvious. S o m e mothers gave up careers for f a m i l y l i f e , others stayed i n e m o t i o n a l l y abusive, oppressive marriages, a n d m a n y w o r k e d very h a r d a n d yet are seen as "not w o r k i n g " i n their role o f w i f e a n d mother. A s m y co-researcher/participants made decis ions about their o w n l ives , these condit ions o f their mothers ' l ives d i d not go unnoticed. G i v e n the r i g i d gender roles o f the t imes, I d o not see as unusual the e m o t i o n a l distance these w o m e n felt f r o m their fathers. D o y l e (1995) discusses some w o r k done o n m e n ' s issues by t w o different A m e r i c a n m e n ' s groups. T h e N a t i o n a l Congress for M e n a n d C h i l d r e n is ' " d e v o t e d to m e n ' s r ights ' issues, especia l ly those that project a posit ive or pro male image o f fathers a n d the role o f fa therhood" (p. 13). T h i s group feels that fathers have b e e n shortchanged, arguing that "society v i e w s fathers, then, as s i m p l y the providers whereas mothers c o m e out as the f a m i l y ' s e m o t i o n a l center a n d w e l l s p r i n g " (p. 13). D o y l e contrasts this group w i t h the N a t i o n a l O r g a n i z a t i o n for M e n A g a i n s t S e x i s m w h o support a " ' m a l e - p o s i t i v e ' approach to m e n ' s issues a l o n g w i t h a profeminist , a n d gay-af f irmative" one (p. 14). A p p a r e n t l y this second organizat ion has shifted its focus i n recent years " a w a y from ' m e n ' s p a i n ' ( lonel iness, addict ions, insecurit ies) focus ing their attention more o n the issue o f ' m e n ' s p r i v i l e g e s " ' ( p . 1.4). B o t h these v i e w p o i n t s , are w o r t h m o r e study and c o m b i n e d c o u l d give a broader l o o k at the male role i n society w h i c h seems sorely needed. 1 f o u n d one daughter's v e r s i o n o f the h e a l i n g i n her re lat ionship w i t h her father very m o v i n g . T h i s story seemed to conta in a s m a l l seed o f h e a l i n g for anyone reading it f r o m this i n d i v i d u a l a n d societal " father" w o u n d . Despi te their independent/radical/leadership qualit ies that appear early, despite resistance to gender roles b e i n g a consistent theme i n their c h i l d h o o d s , despite the feminist leanings o f some o f their mothers a n d the w i t n e s s i n g o f their mother ' s oppression, these w o m e n take o n tradi t ional ly female careers. Is this career choice due to societal s t reaml in ing o f m e n a n d w o m e n into sex segregated occupations for these w o m e n ? L i m i t e d options became a noticeable theme as other options, i n c l u d i n g E p i s c o p a l priest, were r u l e d out. T h e female dominated nature o f the educat ion a n d careers these w o m e n obtain, have the " ' service to h u m a n i t y ' va lues" , that K e m p (1994) notes w i t h society l a b e l i n g these as 163 "extensions o f the h o m e m a k e r r o l e " (p. 218). Is this an act o f agency as these w o m e n choose careers where they dedicate m a n y product ive years to h e l p i n g others a n d that suit their abi l i t ies and personalit ies? S o m e o f the w o m e n express satisfaction w i t h their w o r k a n d one participant stated that she loves her j o b . A n o t h e r w o m a n m o v e d o n to leadership posit ions and an eventual career change to what was tradi t ional ly a m a l e dominated profession (psychologist) e v e n though she started her career as a p h y s i c a l educat ion teacher. Others also have h a d m o v e m e n t i n their careers i n posit ions w h i c h are not as c o m m o n l y grouped into the tradit ional sex segregated career stream. Instructor a n d counsel lor are two o f these alternative posit ions w h i c h several o f these w o m e n have he ld . T h e c o u n s e l l i n g psychology branch o f psychology , has been more tradi tonal ly male d o m i n a t e d a l though not u n l i k e m e d i c i n e the numbers o f w o m e n students is increas ing rapidly . It is important however , not to equate c h o o s i n g a t radi t ional female d o m i n a t e d profess ion w i t h s u b m i s s i o n to sexist gender roles. W h a t is needed is not s i m p l y a redirect ion o f w o m e n into tradit ional male occupations, rather what needs to happen most is a v a l u i n g o f t radi t ional ly female j o b s a n d s k i l l s , a v a l u i n g part icular ly o f c a r i n g and efforts to create more real choices for b o t h w o m e n a n d men. Regardless o f the occupat ional posit ions h e l d , there is a consistent c o m m i t m e n t to c a r i n g a n d to a v i s i o n o f s o c i a l just ice w o v e n throughout these stories. S o m e co- researcher/participants discuss the early beginnings o f this focus as they he lp troubled friends i n h i g h - s c h o o l , a d m i r e a grandparent's u n i o n act ivit ies , a n d h e l p c h i l d r e n w i t h disabi l i t ies . C a r i n g about a n d for others m a y be devalued b y b e i n g considered a n extension o f the h o m e m a k e r role but I t h i n k that b o t h those that do this w o r k at h o m e and i n society 's institutions are d o i n g valuable , extremely necessary a n d very often, h i g h l y s k i l l e d work . B y e x a m i n i n g the l ives o f l e s b i a n h e l p i n g professionals, this study helps to unpack the re lat ionship between c a r i n g , heterosexism a n d gender soc ia l i zat ion. T h e c o - researcher/participants appear to have embraced the car ing role o f their chosen professions w h i l e at the same t i m e they disrupt the heterosexist assumptions that are w o v e n into the h e l p i n g professions a n d car ing. 164 Journey to L e s b i a n Awareness F o u c a u l t ' s hypothesis discusses h o w the role o f f a m i l y was " t o anchor sexual i ty a n d p r o v i d e i t w i t h permanent support"(p. 108). H e states "parents and relatives became the c h i e f agents o f a deployment o f sexuality w h i c h d r e w its outside support from doctors, educators and later psychiatr ists" w i t h deviations f r o m this a l l iance b e c o m i n g " ' p s y c h o l o g i z e d ' or ' p s y c h i a t r i z e d ' " (p. 110). M a n y o f these co-researcher/participants seem to have gone to the l ibrary sooner or later to l o o k up lesbian i n what l i m i t e d resources were avai lable to them. O f t e n this i n c l u d e d patholog ized and/ o r var ious developmental "stage" references a n d ideologies. M o s t o f these negative societal messages are discussed by co-researcher/ participants under the heading repressive condit ions. These surrounding condi t ions also i n c l u d e d m o v i e s w h i c h depicted the deaths o f lesbians, d i lapidated b a c k street bars, a n d c r i m i n a l charges l a i d for h o m o s e x u a l activity. T h e oppress ion o f lesbian-ness seems to be a l l i n c l u s i v e as y o u n g g ir ls repress or suppress or m i s l a b e l very strong feelings for other females d u r i n g teen years. F o r some, this repression/suppression cont inued d u r i n g subsequent heterosexual relat ionships and marriages. T h e c o m p u l s o r y nature ( R i c h , 1980) o f the hegemonic heterosexist discourse seems to have obliterated any ideology for these w o m e n o f a n alternative sexual expression. O n l y one participant becomes aware o f her lesbian identity i n her late teens b y b e c o m i n g i n v o l v e d w i t h . a lesbian w h o was s i x years her senior. Other w o m e n went o n to date, and/or have sex w i t h , and/or l i v e w i t h , men. T w o w o m e n m a k e m a r i t a l c o m m i t m e n t s that lasted for 13 and 17 years. T h e gender e m b o d i e d experiences code e v o l v e d from stories o f four participants w h o discussed the consequences for them o f heterosexual relations ( w i l l i n g l y or through force). These experiences such as pregnancy, abort ion, early marriage a n d motherhood, post-partum depression and probably post-traumatic stress disorder f o l l o w i n g a rape, a l l l ead to e x a m i n i n g at some point the oppressive nature o f the structures surrounding their gendered l ives . B o t h f e m i n i s m and therapy seemed to have connect ions to these experiences as w e l l w i t h an eventual lesbian ident i f i ca t ion process e v o l v i n g for these w o m e n . It w o u l d be interesting to have more research that focused o n h o w l i fe events such 165 as those described here w h i c h are related to the consequences o f heterosexual experiences p lay out i n this androcentric culture, i n the l ives o f w o m e n w h o do c l a i m a subsequent l e s b i a n identity. T w o w o m e n d i d not have gender e m b o d i e d l i fe experiences that were as v i s i b l y i m p a c t i n g as the other four. T h i s meant that I h a d to consider what h a d lead t h e m to e x a m i n i n g surrounding a n d internal bel iefs that m a y have been a n i n i t i a l step o n the road to a l i f e other than the predominant heterosexual one. B o t h these w o m e n as c h i l d r e n had expressed w a n t i n g a n alternative to t radi t ional heterosexual female roles. G r o w i n g up as the eldest daughter o f seven c h i l d r e n and b e i n g one o f four gir ls 1 saw as gender e m b o d i e d experiences for these t w o w o m e n . W a t c h i n g her o v e r w o r k e d mother seemed signif icant for this eldest o f seven. T h e second daughter o f four gir ls also rebel led, not w a n t i n g a l l those " g i r l " restrictions p l a c e d o n her a n d she managed to maneuver herse l f into a pseudo-boy vacancy i n her f a m i l y . These s i b l i n g positions/experiences seemed to lead to some early d e c i s i o n m a k i n g about "not getting m a r r i e d , " and/or "not getting pregnant", and/or "not d o i n g what girls d i d " . These decis ions about not part ic ipat ing i n future stereotypical gendered/heterosexist roles, before serious involvement i n a heterosexual re lat ionship a n d before a conscious awareness o f a l e s b i a n identity,although the later soon evolved. K i t z i n g e r (1987) suggests not t e l l i n g the c o m i n g out story as one o f f a l l i n g i n love , but instead she suggests stressing parts o f the story that chal lenge the heterosexual/gender roles a n d norms. A l t h o u g h I t h i n k that a n increas ing desire for a n d awareness o f a n alternative to t radi t ional heterosexual/gender roles and relationships is part o f these w o m e n ' s stories, there is evidence at var ious points i n their c o m i n g out stories o f f a l l i n g m a d l y a n d deeply i n love. I d i d not spec i f i ca l ly ask about the qual i ty or i m p a c t o f love/sex w i t h w o m e n , but several o f the stories conta ined comments o n the quality/powerfulness o f this experience. W e discussed the intensity o f this phenomena further i n the focus group a n d raised some questions about h o w this w o u l d compare to the b o n d i n g i n heterosexual relationships. 1 w o u l d suggest that the quality/intensity o f the felt experiences o f sex/love between w o m e n seems to be, for these lesbians, part o f their c o m i n g out stories as w e l l as their increased conscious awareness o f a n alternative to heterosexuality. Further research 166 into the emotional and sexual bonding between women and women, men and men, and women and men would be interesting. Feminism was part of every one of these lesbians' lives and continues to influence their perspective on their lives and their work. Sometimes feminism was the context for their reawakening of repressed lesbian feelings. Therapy is also something that all co- researcher/participants have entered into at various times to assist in expanding themselves. Sometimes this was related to other difficult life issues before realizing their lesbian-ness which lead to a re-examination of their lives. One woman was in therapy during her first lesbian experience, having intitiated the process for other reasons. Career skill development for use with her client population was another co-researcher/participant's decision for entry into therapy. Once involved she has continued and gained insight into more personal issues in her life. Another woman was in distress about her lesbian-ness but did not discuss this in therapy. Heterosexist assumptions ingrained in the traditional professional therapeutic approaches meant that no one asked her about this possibility. This last example illustrates the need for helping professionals to be receptive and to ask for at least a basic romantic/sexual history during a therapeutic assessment. I often wonder if clients seem to know intuitively who to talk to about this and who would not be able to help them. In my work as a counsellor, I was the only lesbian/gay person among the four counsellors in the office. I was also the only one who had any clients who were open about their gay/lesbian identity. As some staff were cognizant of my sexuality and others were not, I decided to bring in someone else to discuss gay/bi/lesbian/transgendered issues for the staff. I still seemed to be the only one who would have clients coming out in therapy sessions. Was it possible, I wondered, that clients just were not bringing it up with others or was it just a co-incidence that the only lesbian counsellor, albeit a partially closeted one, would just happen to have the lesbian and gay clients? This phenomena may be the same one that operated for me as a returning mature student. Where it felt safe to bring up my lesbian-ness in university classrooms I did. This just happened to be in feminist professors' classrooms, often with all female students, where space for this seemed to be made by inclusivity in their language and in their reading lists. 167 T h i s d i d not m e a n that these were heterosexist a n d h o m o p h o b i a free zones, dec ide ly not, but 1 felt m o r e w i l l i n g to take the r i s k and deal w i t h the consequences i n these classrooms. S o m e h o w I. d i d not fee l safe to b r i n g this issue u p i n m i x e d c lassrooms w i t h m a l e professors w h o usual ly d i d not m e n t i o n this subject. Gay/lesbian cl ients m a y also have a n intuit ive screening cr i ter ia that a l l o w them to c h e c k out the counsel lor they are assigned to i n government funded agencies, for signs that she/he creates a safe space for reveal ing their m i n o r i t y sexuality. H o p e f u l l y h e l p i n g professionals w h o are l e s b i a n a n d gay and w h o w i s h to he lp gay a n d lesbian clients/students/patients, w i l l feel more a n d more comfortable to identify themselves to co-workers so that this populat ion c a n be channeled to their case loads/classrooms. T w o o f the co-researcher participants m e n t i o n e d that this c h a n n e l l i n g is happening i n their present w o r k plates. ' C o m p a r t m e n t a l i z i n g their l ives into those w h o k n o w their secret a n d those w h o d o n ' t , i n a n effort to protect j o b s a n d relat ionships, was a strategy that most lesbians i n this study e m p l o y e d at var ious t imes i n their l ives. T h i s theme o f compartmenta l i zat ion began w i t h a recognit ion o f this strategy i n re la t ion to the external w o r l d but it popped up again as a co-researcher/participant m e n t i o n e d her internal process o f u n c o v e r i n g her lesbian identity. I f o u n d this descr ipt ion o f internal c o m p a r t m e n t a l i z i n g , b u r y i n g and " u n b u r y i n g " feelings, p l a c i n g layers over top a n d then t a k i n g t h e m off, a fasc inat ing image for the repression a n d re-awakening o f unconscious same-sex desires. She is t a l k i n g o f a m e m o r y process that seems s i m i l a r at t imes to the w a y that sexual abuse survivors sometimes refer to their repressed and then re-emerging trauma recol lect ions. H e r m a n (1992) quotes D r . Janet, one o f the first doctors a l o n g w i t h F r e u d , w h o w o r k e d i n the f i e l d o f sexual abuse survivors then k n o w n as "hyster ics" . She states "Janet noted that post-traumatic amnes ia was due to a constr ic t ion o f the f i e l d o f consciousness w h i c h kept pa inful m e m o r i e s spl it o f f f r o m ordinary awareness." (p. 45). T h e awareness o f lesbian-ness w i t h its negative societal connotations seems too traumatic to be incorporated into a y o u n g g i r l/woman's s e l f esteem or to be a l l o w e d into consciousness for any length of . t ime. T h i s co-researcher/participant discusses the p s y c h o l o g i c a l layers w h i c h were p l a c e d over these desires, but then were later p u l l e d away to reveal a lesbian-ness that was underneath. 168 Often sexual abuse survivors will have nightmares/dreams as they struggle with re- emerging memories. The description of the "coming out" dream one woman retells is very disturbing. The image is a powerful one as she talks of discovering a young girl having been hung up by her mother, with a rope around her neck, for being bad. The symbolism in the dream may be referring to the consequences of keeping these feelings repressed - almost like killing a part of one's self. It also seems to speak to the fears that forced these "bad" feelings underground in the first place. Healing for survivors of abuse includes a re-telling of the trauma story and it is interesting how the re-telling of the coming out story is an important piece of lesbian culture/subculture. External compartmentalization, or keeping parts of one's life separate due to fears of rejection or job loss, is made much more understandable as we look at the negative reactions that these women have endured. Avoiding these life shattering experiences makes the closet look like the only sane response, especially in less tolerant times. Even now when laws are supposed to be improved, one lesbian couple is enduring separations, reduced financial income and the stresses of a legal battle to fight institutional discrimination in Canadian immigration policies/practices. We have a long way to go in improving even basic legal rights as well as improving negative attitudes and unfair treatment. As the stories in the negative reactions section of chapter live outline, there are still enormous barriers in some places. These barriers prevent these women from holding hands as they walk down the street, from obtaining and keeping jobs they are qualified for, from being fully themselves at work, from having a supportive administration behind them, or from getting the same treatment/benefits as heterosexual couples. Considering Ethics and Boundaries Dualisms such as male/female, heterosexual/homosexual, public/private, professional/personal, culture/nature, logic/emotions, and many others keep the patriarchy in place. This hierarchy, this system of interlocking oppression puts value on one half of the binary and devalues the other. As lesbians our very existence disturbs this system. As women who love women we disrupt this patriarchal logic so much that it enrages many people. As we "come out" in larger and larger numbers in a society where some segments 169 are at least attempting to tolerate us, w e d o not fit n i c e l y into the structures around us. W e b r i n g n e w d i l e m m a s a n d twists to o l d d i l e m m a s . " P r o f e s s i o n a l " values/ethics have been f o r m e d w i t h i n a n d i n service o f this androcentric , c o m p l e x h ierarchica l e c o n o m i c system. H o w w e manage to survive w i t h i n this system i n order to secure our mater ia l real i ty, yet r e m a i n true to ourselves and assist others, is the d i l e m m a o f m a n y people o f colour(s) , gay m e n , w o m e n o f a l l co lours i n c l u d i n g lesbians, the disabled, a n d a l l w h o have been "othered". " C o m i n g o u t " as y o u n g professionals often meant that m y co-researcher/participants c o u l d not have open discussions w i t h peers or supervisors about this process or the w o r k related d i l e m m a s that m i g h t be affected. There were various ways the w o m e n i n this study handled ethical d i l e m m a s a n d boundary issues. O n e w o m a n f o r m e d " b r i c k w a l l " boundaries and another quest ioned the need for rules that c o n t r o l people. H e y w a r d (1993) argues for an ethic o f m u t u a l empowerment a n d authenticity i n our connect ions w i t h those w e serve. H a v i n g w o r k e d w i t h a caseload o f s u i c i d a l c l ients, 1 w o u l d have to agree w i t h H e y w a r d about the need for genuine c o n n e c t i o n i n h e l p i n g relationships. I n m y experience it saves l ives. T h e fragi le spark o f spirit ins ide each person c a n be fanned back to f u l l f lame i f a there is a n honest c a r i n g person to l i s ten a n d connect w i t h . Others m a y have different ways o f w o r k i n g that do not i n c l u d e authenticity or a heart connect ion, but this is m y c o n c l u s i o n after m o r e than twenty years as a professional helper w i t h t roubled people f r o m a l l w a l k s o f l i fe . I t h i n k that some guidel ines are also he lpful a l o n g w i t h a c o m m i t m e n t to self-care a n d a trusting c o n n e c t i o n w i t h peers or some other type o f supervis ion. Personal ly , I have d i f f i cu l ty c o n t i n u i n g to do g o o d w o r k w i t h cl ients i f I a m i l l or very stressed i n other areas o f m y l i fe and i f I d o not fee l supported or trusted b y those that 1 a m w o r k i n g with/for. G o o d w o r k for m e means l i s tening w i t h b o t h m y heart a n d m y m i n d . T h i s means attempting to "be w i t h " the c l ient i n a n honest, c a r i n g way- the genuineness o f this approach cl ients c a n sense instantly. I d o see this c o n n e c t i o n as a f o r m o f "s is ter ly" love. H e y w a r d ' s d i s c u s s i o n o f the erotic and the sacred b o t h b e i n g present i n h u m a n connections where there is m u t u a l 170 empowerment , rings true. S e x u a l feelings, as w e l l as angry feel ings, as w e l l as any other h u m a n feelings, c a n occur i n w o r k i n g c lose ly w i t h other h u m a n beings. Subconsc ious or unconscious feelings/needs/desires are present at m a n y c o m p l e x levels for a l l persons, b o t h professional a n d c l ient , as i n most h u m a n interactions. S o m e o f the boundary issues discussed b y m y co-researcher/participants were about experiences m a n y years ago, i n c loseted circumstances. Somet imes the people i n v o l v e d , professional or client/student/patient were unaware o f their lesbian-ness. T o d a y some d i l e m m a s continue to r e m a i n unclear for m a n y lesbians as they struggle w i t h the quest ion o f c o m i n g out or not at w o r k , m i x i n g the private a n d personal together. W h e n ? W h e r e ? W h y ? T o w h o m is it necessary or p o l i t i c a l or b e n e f i c i a l to c o m e out? H o w safe is it? H o w does the age, gender and sexual identity o f the parties i n v o l v e d affect e th ica l d i l e m m a s ? I t h i n k as lesbians w e are i n uncharted waters about some o f the d i l e m m a s w e face so part o f our self-care needs to be connections w i t h other l e s b i a n h e l p i n g professionals so that w e are not m a k i n g our decis ions i n i so la t ion or without the benefit o f someone w h o c a n understand the f u l l extent o f the situation. There is no perfect answer to any d i l e m m a but only the answer that feels right for each i n d i v i d u a l i n v o l v e d w i t h i n that part icular context. I was impressed w i t h the emphasis o n context by one o f m y co-researcher/participants as she comes out i n her j o b w i t h i n a context that she feels is appropriate a n d w i l l be educational for those i n v o l v e d . N o t w o w o r k situations and no t w o people are a l i k e so m a n y decis ions have to be made o n the merits o f that unique situation. Somet imes w e m a k e decis ions w h i c h i n retrospect w e w o u l d not do again but to err is h u m a n and provides some o f l i f e ' s best learning experiences. W i t h doctors and priests, most notably, m a k i n g headlines as they appear i n courts f a c i n g sexual abuse charges, there is a need for profess ional organizations to produce guidel ines for e th ica l behaviour. R e c e n t l y three nurs ing organizations, the Registered Nurses A s s o c i a t i o n o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , the B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a C o u n c i l o f L i s c e n s e d P r a c t i c a l Nurses , a n d T h e Registered Psychiatr ic N u r s e s A s s o c i a t i o n o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , prepared a paper to assist i n preventing abuse o f c l ients and provide expectations for professional behaviour (1994). 171 O n e o f the problems w i t h this R N A B C , B C C L P N , a n d R P N A B C d i s c u s s i o n paper, is that it does not d e a l w i t h the gendered nature o f relationships. G e n d e r c a n be c r i t i c a l to some d i l e m m a s a n d the p o w e r d y n a m i c s are different i n some situations due to this. A n example w o u l d be the d i l e m m a discussed b y a co-researcher/participant as she watched t w o thirteen year o l d gir ls sit entangled together i n her class. Questions about the sexual nature o f this t o u c h i n g m a y be disregarded i f seen by someone through a heterosexist lens. T h i s teacher was aware o f the poss ib i l i ty o f there b e i n g a love interest i n v o l v e d but s t i l l was unclear as to h o w to handle this. B e i n g quest ioned b y a col league about h o w she w o u l d have dealt w i t h the same situation i f it h a d b e e n a thirteen year o l d b o y and g i r l brought a w h o l e different perspective for this professional to consider. W e are not used to c o n s i d e r i n g af fect ion between t w o w o m e n or i n this case t w o 13 year o lds , as poss ib ly h a v i n g some sexual energy i n v o l v e d . T h u s the gender o f the i n d i v i d u a l s i n v o l v e d , a n d the possible sexual orientation/identity need fo be k n o w n i n order to l o o k at the d i l e m m a this w o m a n sees before her. T h e gender a n d the sexual or ientat ion o f the professional is also paramount to this s i tuation as it m a y not have c o m e to l ight i n someone else 's c lassroom. T h i s teacher takes students into her c lassroom w h e n other teachers t h i n k they maybe struggl ing w i t h the c o m i n g out process. S e x u a l orientation/identity is not discussed i n the R N A B C , B C C L P N , a n d R P N A B C paper, except under the e m o t i o n a l abuse sect ion i n a l ist o f behaviours that demonstrate disrespect for the cl ient. E m o t i o n a l abuse is seen here encompass ing certa in behaviours i n c l u d i n g " insens i t iv i ty to the c l i e n t ' s preferences w i t h respect to sex a n d f a m i l y d y n a m i c s " (p. 16). T h i s seems to be the o n l y i l l u s i o n to same-sex relat ionships a n d I doubt i f it w o u l d shift someone's homophobic/heterosexist behaviour to any great degree. I d i d not see a d e f i n i t i o n or p r o b l e m a t i z i n g o f the w o r d profess ional i n this paper other t h a n to say that the nurse-cl ient re lat ionship is "therapeutic i n nature and is established to meet the needs o f the c l ient ."(p. 8). A b u s e is def ined i n these nurs ing associat ions ' d iscuss ion paper as "the misuse o f power or betrayal o f trust, respect or i n t i m a c y between the nurse a n d the c l ient that the nurse k n o w s c a n cause o r be reasonably expected to cause p h y s i c a l or e m o t i o n a l h a r m to a 172 c l i e n t . " (p. 6). V i o l e n c e , abuse towards nurses a n d stressful w o r k i n g condit ions are c i ted as some o f the factors i n v o l v e d i n situations where nurses have been abusive to c l ients . There was a suggestion o f empowerment o f the c l ient i n this paper w h i c h states that the nurse-client re lat ionship is "based o n a recogni t ion that people are able to m a k e decis ions about their o w n l ives and are therefore, partners i n the d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g process" (p.6). There is a n acknowledgment that i n t i m a c y as w e l l as trust, respect a n d p o w e r are also present i n the nurse- c l ient re lat ionship a n d that c a r i n g is the basis o f the p h i l o s o p h i c approach to nurs ing (p. 6-7). Differenceis between the profess ional re lat ionship a n d the non-profess ional re lat ionship are o u t l i n e d w i t h the non-professional re lat ionship categorized into casual , f r iendship a n d romantic (p. 9). It is stressed that " r e c o g n i z i n g w h e n a professional re lat ionship is b e c o m i n g a non-professional re lat ionship is more important than r e c o g n i z i n g the differences between t h e m " (p. 8). A c k n o w l e d g m e n t is made o f the nurse h a v i n g other roles/relationships w i t h the c l ient especia l ly i n a s m a l l c o m m u n i t y as w e l l as acknowledgment that "non-profess ional re lat ionships have the potent ia l to deve lop between nurses and their c l ients (or their s ignif icant others or both) w h e n such relationships d i d not previous ly e x i s t " (p. 8). O n e o f the co-researcher/participants discussed the smallness o f the lesbian c o m m u n i t y a n d this potentia l for d u a l roles. A c lose f r iend and a p r a c t i c i n g therapist w h o has recently m o v e d to a s m a l l t o w n m e n t i o n e d to m e h o w b l u r r e d the boundaries b e c o m e where everyone k n o w s everyone else a n d h o w the context is m u c h different for dec is ion- m a k i n g about boundaries. T h i s sounds quite s i m i l a r to the l e s b i a n c o m m u n i t y where y o u c a n e n d up i n the same s o c i a l s i tuat ion w i t h a l l y o u r ex-lovers and where cl ients a n d therapists sit side by side o n the same committees l i c k i n g stamps. There are probably pros a n d cons to the impersonalness o f a larger c o m m u n i t y a n d to the cont inual invo lvement w i t h each other that happens i n a s m a l l c o m m u n i t y . T h e guidel ine i n the R N A B C , B C C L P N , a n d R P N A B C paper is as f o l l o w s : " T h e o v e r r i d i n g p r i n c i p l e is that the nurses' interpersonal relationships w i t h their c l ients (or their s ignif icant others) must not have a negative effect o n meet ing the c l i e n t ' s therapeutic needs or i n any w a y infringe o n those needs." (p. 8). 173 T h i s document states that " r o m a n t i c (sexual) relationships are not acceptable w i t h i n the context o f the nurse-cl ient re lat ionship."(p. 8). W h a t the nurse is to do , i f this p o s s i b i l i t y is beg inning , is to w i t h d r a w f r o m the professional re lat ionship. T h e rat ionale for this is that " i t is rarely possible for the nurse to m a i n t a i n sufficient object ivi ty about the person to enable the nurse to enter into the therapeutic r e l a t i o n s h i p . 2 0 D i f f i c u l t i e s often arise w h e n there is a n attempt to have a professional a n d a non-professional re lat ionship at the same time.'"' (p. 13). In order to faci l i tate the awareness o f this happening they i n c l u d e a l i s t o f " y e l l o w l ights"- signs that are a caut ion to the nurse and m a y m e a n that she needs to m a k e alternative care arrangements a n d w i t h d r a w f r o m the nurse-cl ient re lat ionship (p. 12). S o m e o f these y e l l o w l ights inc lude: frequently t h i n k i n g o f the c l ient away f r o m work . . . .spending free t i m e w i t h the c l i e n t . . . . sharing personal i n f o r m a t i o n or w o r k concerns w i t h the c l i e n t . . . . feel ing responsible i f the c l ient ' s progress is l i m i t e d . . . .not ic ing m o r e phys ica l touch than is appropriate for the situation or sexual content i n interactions w i t h the cl ient.( p. 13) E n g a g i n g i n a re lat ionship that is romant ic or sexual w i t h a n ex-c l ient , someone w h o no longer is i n the care o f the nurse, is to be g i v e n a green l ight , except i n the case o f a psychotherapeutic re lat ionship. I n this case a t i m e l i m i t o f one year is needed f o l l o w i n g the t e r m i n a t i o n o f the professional re lat ionship w i t h the p r o v i s i o n that i n the nurse's professional judgement " s u c h a re lat ionship w o u l d not have a negative i m p a c t o n the w e l l - b e i n g o f the c l i e n t " (p. 15). It seems h e l p f u l to have some guidel ines f o r the profess ional w i t h respect to boundary expectations especia l ly w h e n they are n e w l y graduated a n d b e g i n n i n g to navigate a professional career. T e r m i n a t i n g the professional re lat ionship seems a sensible step i f romantic/sexual feelings b e c o m e the focus o f the relat ionship. Honesty certainly w i t h one 's s e l f a n d w i t h the other person w o u l d also be a c o m m e n d a b l e avenue w h e n this exit takes place. S m a l l c o m m u n i t i e s , w h i c h i n most places inc ludes the l e s b i a n c o m m u n i t y , makes c o m p a r t m e n t a l i z i n g relationships less real ist ic a n d I t h i n k that the final decis ions rest w i t h 2 0 O n c e again we see profess ional ism t a k i n g the objective side o f the objective/subjective d u a l i s m here. 174 the persons i n v o l v e d . There have been fr iendships a n d even sexual/romantic relat ionships that have e v o l v e d f r o m a b e g i n n i n g i n a cl ient/professional relat ionship. I have k n o w n lesbian couples where this is the case a n d they s e e m quite happy, but it is a n area where research c o u l d give us m o r e insight. C o m i n g out a n d b e i n g n e w to a professional career c a n happen s imultaneously . T h e repression o f l e s b i a n desires a n d the c o n f u s i o n that can result as a n i n d i v i d u a l is negotiat ing their c o m i n g out process c a n need special attention. Unfortunate ly m a n y w o r k places are s t i l l perce ived as homophobic/heterosexist a n d so i n order to not j e o p a r d i z e a profess ional reputation or their l i v e l i h o o d s , external c o u n s e l l i n g seems to be the best suggestion for those i n this posi t ion. M o r e and m o r e u n i o n contracts and employers are creating employee assistance c o u n s e l l i n g programs that c a n be u t i l i z e d anonymously . O n e c a n not assume, however , that the counsel lors i n these programs are sensitive a n d aware o f heterosexism/homophobia. Benef i ts such as employee c o u n s e l l i n g programs are yet another p lace where unions a n d those cha l lenging heterosexism can fight for i n c l u s i v e language, practices a n d services. A r e there guidel ines for the l e s b i a n practit ioner that c o u l d be h e l p f u l w h e n cons ider ing c o m i n g out at w o r k or w i t h clients/students/patients? T h i s nurs ing associat ions ' document discusses self-disclosure stating that it is for the " c l i e n t ' s benef i t" a n d is considered acceptable but not w h e n it is a w a y " o f meet ing the nurse 's personal needs" (p. I I ) . P o l i t i c a l activists m a y see c o m i n g out as a benefit to society as a w h o l e a n d encourage this disclosure. B e i n g comfortable i n one 's w o r k s i tuat ion a n d b e i n g able to b r i n g major aspects o f y o u r s e l f to w o r k as heterosexuals are able to, seems a reasonable expectat ion even though that m a y be seen as meet ing the pract i toner 's needs