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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Positions : possibilities and pleasures in gay, bisexual, and queer men's storytelling Gendron, Mathew


Sex between gay, bisexual, and queer (GBQ) men has been primarily explored through sexual health and public health frameworks (Adam, 2016; Frost, 2017; Salway Hottes et al., 2015). Despite producing valuable research on GBQ men’s sexual decision-making and health disparities, these frameworks have struggled to capture the complex idiosyncrasies of GBQ men’s sex. Hermeneutically-informed theories of human agency call for research that holds biophysical and sociocultural aspects of human experience in their complexity (Martin et al., 2003), while positioning theories further explore how one’s situatedness in available storylines shapes what can be experienced at a given time and place (Harré, 2012, 2015; Harré & van Langenhove, 1991). Aligned with counselling psychology’s aspirations toward sex-positivity (Burnes et al., 2017), I leveraged these frameworks to develop situated understandings of GBQ men’s sex and pleasure. Twenty diverse GBQ men participated in a collaborative storytelling process adapted from Arvay’s (2003) collaborative narrative method. Participants told stories about pleasurable and unpleasurable sex they have had with men, which participants and I subsequently reviewed through collaborative reflection. Thematic analysis (Braun et al., 2019; Braun & Clarke, 2006, 2019) of these reflections produced four themes and 11 subthemes that explore how GBQ men narrate themselves in sexual stories and how GBQ men’s narrative positions shape perceived possibilities and pleasures in sex. I discuss the importance of understanding GBQ men’s sex in its layered complexity before discussing implications for future sex-positive research and counselling practice.

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