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Constructions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer identities among young people in contemporary Australia

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This paper focuses on young people's construction of lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer (LGBQ) identities in contemporary Australia. Through the perspectives of young people, it seeks to position their understanding of LGBQ identities alongside current theoretical and empirical debates about the individual and social significance attached to these identity frames. In this qualitative study, 28 young people (aged 18 to 26 years) shared their stories of identifying as LGBQ through online, face-to-face or telephone interviews. The findings highlight how varying elements of LGBQ identities continue to have currency within this group and how young people adopt and refer to these terms interchangeably and in tandem. This is balanced alongside an awareness of both the limitations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer identity categories and of the homophobic discourses informing these subject positions. The paper concludes by arguing that health and social care professionals have a integral role to play in supporting LGBQ youth through a process of co-authorship – to work in partnership to construct more enabling self-stories that transcend restrictive identity frames.
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Keywords: Australia; homophobia; lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer identities; sexual identities; young people

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University, UK

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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