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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cultures of resistance : identity, politicization and health promotion among lesbian activists in Vancouver, B.C. Hudspith, Maria

Abstract

This thesis examines the relationship between activism, identity and well-being among a small group of lesbian activists in Vancouver, B.C. It explores the idea of the margin as a site of resistance, highlighting the connection between (stigmatized) identities and resilience. The relationship between activism and mental and physical wellbeing is explored, political consciousness and social justice work being named as key determinants of health. Individual interviews with 7 lesbians (the author included) who have been active in social justice work were conducted, as well as a focus group. A self-reflective exercise was also undertaken to capture the researcher's thoughts and feelings throughout the process. This project highlights the power of identity, however shifting and unstable it may be, in the lives of lesbian activists. Their narratives disrupt Utopian visions of lesbian communities as ideologically homogeneous, stable and nurturing; Depicted is a more complex image of activist networks where differential power relations exist and certain subjectivities are privileged. Activism, despite having a negative impact on physical health, was seen to be beneficial for mental well-being, increasing the participants' sense of purpose, connection, and power.

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