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Homophobia and the production of shame: young people and same sex attraction
journal contributionposted on 2004-01-01, 00:00 authored by L Hillier, Lyn HarrisonLyn Harrison
Research among same-sex attracted young people in Western cultures has described a minority group of adolescents whose sexuality is negated by the significant institutions and people in their lives. Very often, there is a silence in the family and at school about same-sex sexuality and when a young person's homosexuality is suspected or disclosed s/he suffers from denial, discrimination and abuse. Not surprisingly, living in hostile environments leaves such young people at high-risk of drug abuse, depression and suicide. This paper describes some of the ways young people resist being positioned in these negative ways. Using autobiographical stories from 200 same-sex attracted young Australians, we document the discursive field of sexuality in which these young people struggle to construct positive identities. Young people were well aware of dominant discourses which characterized homosexuality as 'evil, diseased and unnatural'. Yet they use different strategies to fault, deflect and discount these negative understandings and to highlight other discourse which positions them positively.