Changing world of gay men, 1950-2000

Robinson, P 2006, Changing world of gay men, 1950-2000, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Changing world of gay men, 1950-2000
Author(s) Robinson, P
Year 2006
Abstract The focus of this thesis is the lived experience of 80 Australian gay men in the second half of the twentieth century. The oldest man in the sample was born in 1922 and the youngest in 1980. Their understanding of what it was to be gay is historically contingent, for their lives spanned the greater part of the twentieth century: from when homosexuality was illegal through the less repressive but no less problematic eras of gay liberation and the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

Qualitative in approach, the thesis was based on oral history interviews. Interviewees were asked set questions about their social, affective and sexual lives. The sample comprised an old cohort of 22 men, a middle cohort of 30 men, and a young cohort of 28 men. The majority of interviewees were of Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Celtic decent. The exceptions were Aboriginal men, and the children of migrants to Australia from South-east Asia and Southern Europe.

Interviewees' personal narratives included their experiences of the repression of the Cold War period, the exuberance, and, for some, personal confusion of gay liberation and the disco culture of the 1970s, and the trauma of the HIV-AIDS epidemic. Through their life stories, the men in this sample illustrated the significant shifts in sexual attitudes and culture that Australia experienced in the latter part of the twentieth century. Aspects of the lives examined included the men's experience of coming out and development of their sexual identity, their social and affective lives, and their involvement in the gay 'scene' and gay community.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global Studies, Social Science and Planning
Keyword(s) Gay men Australia
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