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Paths of Integration for Sexual Minorities in Korea

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The prevailing social model among the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) in South Korea is to maintain somewhat sexually free but separate social enclaves. This strategy avoids significant public backlash and government oppression. However, the situation leaves them without legal protection, social acceptance or significant public space for expressing their sexual identity. Supporters of greater integration pursue a politically activist model, which advocates government recognition and protection of the LGBT as an oppressed minority. This strategy faces determined opposition from some Christian groups and a mostly indifferent public. We highlight a complementary “bridging-dialogue” model in which individual LGBT persons nurture communicative social ties with members of the larger society in ostensibly non-political settings. Although emerging and limited, the bridging strategy attracts many more participants than does identity politics and generates genuine dialogue and other social exchange among different groups, including conservative Christians and foreign-origin LGBTs. Bridging dialogue also appeals to a younger generation of Koreans, who are more tolerant of and curious about ethnic and sexual diversity.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2015

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