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“People don’t understand who you are”: An exploration of how formerly heterosexually partnered gay fathers raised with religion make sense of their identities

Earley, Eoin M.

Authors

Eoin M. Earley



Abstract

Twelve formerly heterosexually married/partnered gay fathers raised with religion from the US, Canada, UK and Ireland participated in interviews focused on their experiences of managing their identities. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyse the data from the interviews. Two super-ordinate themes are reported that capture the ways in which the men made sense of, experienced, and psychologically and rhetorically negotiated their gay father identities in various different contexts, including in gay male communities, heterosexual communities and religious communities. The first theme, the experience of living with a conflicted identity, offered a more phenomenological and descriptive account of the men’s experiences of managing a conflicted identity. The second theme, managing and negotiating a gay father identity, offered a more interpretive and conceptual stance on the men’s accounts, exploring the psychological and rhetorical ‘defence’ of participants’ identities, and the ways in which they clearly felt compelled to justify their position as gay men who fathered children in a heterosexual relationship. A third super-ordinate theme is reported in the form of a research paper, the counselling experiences of formerly partnered gay fathers raised with religion, which explores participants’ positive and negative experiences of psychological therapy, and offers suggestions for mental health professionals in their work with such men. The findings as a whole provide a potential basis for future affirmative therapy practice with this group of gay fathers. Implications for counselling psychology, limitations and avenues for further research are also discussed.

Citation

Earley, E. M. “People don’t understand who you are”: An exploration of how formerly heterosexually partnered gay fathers raised with religion make sense of their identities. (Thesis). University of the West of England

Thesis Type Thesis
Keywords counselling psychology, LGBTQ psychology, coming out, affirmative therapy, gay parenting, gay identity, religious identity

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