Young queers getting together: moving beyond isolation and loneliness
AffiliationEducation: Education Policy and Management
Education Policy and Management
Document TypePhD thesis
CitationsCurran, G. (2002). Young queers getting together: moving beyond isolation and loneliness, PhD thesis, Education Policy and Management, The University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2002 Greg Curran.
Over the last decade, education-focused research/studies on young queers (or same-sex attracted young people) have highlighted the many problems or difficulties they face growing up in a homophobic, heterosexist society. Strategies to address these issues (proposed in numerous research articles and reports) have largely focused on the school setting. I argue that these strategies are limited by heterosexual norms, which regulate and contain in advance what is possible (for queers) within the formal school system. I examine the ways in which these heterosexual norms work to constrain the queer subject in education-focused research and studies on young queers. Within this field of study, young queers have largely been characterized as victims: of homophobic abuse and harassment, and neglect by families and schools. They’re said to be lonely and isolated, at risk of attempted suicide, unsafe sex, drug and alcohol abuse, and homelessness. I argue that these representations convey a negative portrait of young queers as wounded subjects. I illustrate how the emphasis on the wounded queer subject can work against the interests of young queers. In particular, it obscures those queer perspectives involving agency: first, queer cultures and communities; second, the knowledge and experiences of those who have gained confidence in their queerness, who have queer social and sexual lives. These (agentic) queers can offer us ways of understanding how young queers move beyond isolation and loneliness. This study highlights the importance, for many young queers, of having opportunities and spaces where they can connect with each other. Socialization and sexualization among young queers involves a certain openness being and doing queer a practice which is unintelligible within most education-focused research/studies on young queers. This is illustrated and explored through comparative analysis of queer subjectivities in two differentiated spheres: on the one hand education-focused research and studies relating to the school context, and on the other gay/lesbian/queer studies and literature relating to queer social and sexual contexts. The key contexts and themes examined here are: early sexual experience and beats, queer cultures and communities, and queer youth support and social groups.
Keywordsqueer Youth; gay; lesbian; sexuality; education; pedagogy; homophobia; support Groups; gay Community; beats; HIV/AIDS; desire; health promotion; agency; poststructural theory
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