First Advisor

Randy Blazak

Date of Publication

Spring 6-20-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Sociology






Gender identity, Queer theory, Gay and lesbian studies



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 195 pages)


My project looks at current conceptualizations of identity relating to gender and sexuality in order to understand how queer individuals enact gender as connected to their non-normative sexuality. I will use the notion of "desire" through Butler's (1990) notion of performativity as a part of iterability that reproduces an opposition between what is intended and how it is perceived. This approach creates space to problematize the status of identities that posits the conception of fluidity and dialectic as attached to notions of gendered sexualities - the understanding that sexuality interacts with gender and that these two notions are not compartmentalized. The construction of these systems of categorization allows for an assumption of the role of sexuality as connected to gender that can then be read through discursive practices and performances.

This research is placed within a post-structuralist and queer theory discussion that is used to understand identity as separate from an isolated core self and is rather comprehended through a particular connection of gender, sex, desire, and performance. By entering into a queer theory and post-structuralist discussion, this project aims to highlight ways in which gender and sex are not necessarily "intelligible" - in which one's gender enactment follows their sex, which then leads them to be attracted to the "opposite" sex/gender - and by doing so I will be able to understand how non-heterosexuals understand their own sexualized gender. The categories of gender and desire are not mutually exclusive nor are they dichotomous. According to Butler (1990), the heterosexual matrix addresses the power structures associated with hegemonic modes of discourse and thought; therefore, my project embraces this approach to gender and sexuality and how these understandings create a unique performance of repetition that further constructs an identity.

This study specializes in the reformulation and re-articulation of a distinct consciousness of compounded identities that are comprised of a sexualized gender involving the performative interplay of sexuality on gender for queer individuals. In addition, this project seeks to understand how queer individuals form, understand, perform, and enact their evolving gender identity as connected to their sexuality. Specifically my research asks: 1) How do queer individuals narrate the construction of their particular identities? 2) How do queer individuals enact their gender as connected to sexuality? and 3) How do queer individuals describe their identities as marginalized?

In order to answer these questions I conducted 20 interviews with queer individuals in Portland, OR aged 18-35 in order to get a broad range of life experiences. The use of one-on-one interviews allowed me to get at the interpretative perspective of the participant such that they can clarify the connections and relationships they see between their own sexualized gender enactment and the world around them. This also allowed access to acquire information about the social interplay of gender, sex, and desire and how these individuals may or may not place importance on their queer identity and the processes involved.


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