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REC 4350 Literature Review

REC 4350 Literature Review

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REC 4350 Literature Review

  1. 1. Running head: ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 1 Issues of Leisure for People with Nonnormative Sexual Identities and of Related Research: An Exploratory Review Sarah Walters Texas State University
  2. 2. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 2 Abstract This paper recognizes the permeation of issues related to nonnormative sexual identity throughout popular and scholarly discourse as justified by the evident marginalization of the LGBTQ population as well as the fundamental nature of sexual identity as a formative element of psychosocial development. The focus is on issues of nonnormative sexualities within the field of leisure studies. The purpose of the paper is to explore the major themes found throughout LGBTQ leisure research to build a broad foundation of understanding of this body of knowledge and to establish theoretical perspective as a primary determinant of the effectiveness of research on this topic. Keywords: LGBTQ, gay, lesbian, leisure, sexual identity, nonnormative, queer
  3. 3. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 3 Issues of Leisure for People with Nonnormative Sexual Identities and of Related Research: An Exploratory Review Topics related to the experiences and identities of individuals with nonnormative sexualities, such as the dubious ethicality of gay conversion therapy or of transgender individuals being denied admission to women’s colleges, have become increasingly prevalent in popular news. These topics transcend speculative public dialogue as key political and legal matters—the most heavily anticipated US Supreme Court ruling of 2015 will be on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans, and there are over 100 bills that could limit the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ) individuals in US state legislatures as of April 1, 2015 (“State & Local Advocacy,” 2015). With these stories dominating social media feeds and print headlines alike, it is unsurprising that discourse concerning nonnormative sexualities has also permeated academic literature. This permeation is justified not only by the cultural and systematic marginalization of the LGBTQ community evident in these stories but also by the fundamental nature of sexual identity, and particularly nonnormative sexual identity, as a defining element of psychosocial development. Like most social science disciplines, by their very nature primed for illuminating the many components of this complex psychosocial topic, the leisure studies field has not been exempt from this trend. Scholarly work related to nonnormative sexual identity has been present in the leisure literature since the 1990s and only continues to evolve (Johnson & Kivel, 2007). Throughout the development of this body of knowledge, several major themes have been apparent: homonegativity and discrimination as primary issues for LGBTQ leisure participation (Jacobson & Samdahl, 1998); leisure as a context for sexual identity
  4. 4. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 4 development (Caldwell, Kivel, Smith, & Hayes, 1998; Kivel & Kleiber, 2000; Johnson, 1999; Kivel, 1994); and the critique of heteronormativity and the gender binary as compulsory standards in leisure and sport (Sartore & Cunningham, 2009; Lenskyj, 2012; Elling & Janssens, 2009). More recently, much of the literature addressing nonnormative sexual identities and the leisure experiences of the LGBTQ population has been metaliterary in nature, analyzing the theoretical perspectives of past research and addressing the need for a shift in perspective to one that avoids transcendental pretense and better serves the population considered (Johnson & Kivel, 2007; Jones, 2010; Robinett, 2014). The purpose of this paper is not to prove the marginalization of the LGBTQ population within leisure and call for its resolution or to delve into one facet of LGBTQ leisure experience through a heteronormative lens. Rather, the purpose is to explore the major themes identified above—surveying each through consideration of one or several representative articles—in an effort to inform future study that is grounded in vaguely comprehensive awareness of the body of knowledge related to issues of leisure for people with nonnormative sexual identities. Moreover, the purpose is to consider the significance of frame of research as a primary determinant of the effectiveness of research on this topic and to further establish the need for LGBTQ leisure research written from intentionally crafted perspectives that avoid the heteronormativity and dichotomous nature that it so frequently critiques. Homonegativity as an Issue of Leisure Experience The multidimensional term “homonegativity,” which encompasses all negative affective, cognitive, and behavioral responses towards individuals identifying as LGBTQ, replaced the less effective term “homophobia” in the late 1970s (Roderick, McCammon,
  5. 5. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 5 Long, & Allred, 1998). Homonegativity, which can range from suppressed internalized belief to belligerent physical violence, is recognized as destructive to both quality of experience and basic safety for individuals identifying as LGBTQ. The incidence of homonegativity and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals within leisure, as well as the importance of effectively reacting to and deconstructing this stigma, is well documented (Jacobson & Samdahl, 1998; Kivel, 1994; Elling & Janssens, 2009). Jacobson & Samdahl (1998) presented the postulation that “[leisure studies researchers’] a priori belief in the goodness of leisure has prevented [them] from exploring the opposite side of this relationship,” and argued that this belief has resulted in an established conceptual tilt limiting the study of topics such as homonegativity within leisure (p. 234). They considered the possibility that leisure may serve as a reinforcing context for stigma and discrimination experienced by generally marginalized populations and addressed, from a broad social and ecological lens, the presence of and reaction to such stigma and discrimination within the leisure experiences of lesbians over the age of 60. Their research found that participants did experience both subtle and overt homonegativity in and outside of leisure and that participants intentionally segmented their lives due to fear of physical harm and societal devaluation. However, it also made clear that this segmentation and the resulting intentional construction of alternative community led to positive experiences such as meaningful activist leisure and validating interaction with other “old lesbians.” The authors concluded that studying leisure as both a function and determinant of environment—a context for both reinforcing and combatting negative social constructs—will improve ability to understand those “who live their lives on the fringes of society” (p. 253).
  6. 6. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 6 Leisure as Context for Sexual Identity Development Leisure is almost universally accepted as a fundamental context for general identity development throughout the lifespan (Kelly, 1983; Kleiber, 1999; Larson, 1994). There has been much research exploring the notion that the same is likely true for nonnormative sexual identity development (Caldwell et al., 1998; Kivel & Kleiber, 2000; Johnson, 1999; Kivel, 1994). Johnson (1999) addressed ways in which leisure contributes to identity development for LGBTQ individuals as well as various obstacles for this population to accessing positive developmental leisure experiences. The study found that “leisure either complicated or facilitated identity development depending on the extent to which it affected identification with [the LGBTQ community] and the individual’s perceptions of membership in that group” (p. 275). Positively, group enclosure was identified as a means of developing positive gay identity, and leisure was recognized as an opportunity for defining self in relation to others; negatively, marginalization was acknowledged as an issue for those unwilling or hesitant to publically identify as gay—several participants attested to either entirely avoiding situations that would stigmatize them or intentionally passing as heterosexual. This homonegativity, the author concluded, is the primary obstacle to accessing developmental leisure opportunities for LGBTQ individuals and to effectively researching the leisure experiences of this population. Caldwell et al. (1998) also explored the leisure context of LGBTQ adolescent identity development and obstacles to this development. The article identified LGBTQ youth as at- risk and as virtually ignored within leisure research, and investigated health and identity- related factors as both determinants and results of their leisure. It established leisure as “an important social and developmental context” for LGBTQ youth but found that leisure
  7. 7. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 7 may be problematic for this population, particularly gay males, due to acute awareness of differences from the dominant culture (p. 350). The authors concluded that the relationship between these two factors—the dual significance and problematic nature of leisure—warrants further study “to identify how the leisure context, in conjunction with other contexts, can be structured to facilitate the positive, healthy developmental opportunities” needed by LGBTQ youth (p. 353). Kivel & Kleiber (2000) responded to the call for further research issued in the previous study with an attempt to develop overarching themes describing the role of leisure in the process of identity formation for LGBTQ youth. The study determined that “the influence of leisure contexts in terms of the integration of personal and social identity formation was mitigated by the extent to which young people felt the need to conceal their sexual identity” (p. 226). While leisure was identified as a useful tool for resisting narrowly prescribed expectations (establishing nonparticipation as being at least as defining as participation) and exploring sexual identity in unconventional ways, access to developmentally useful leisure experiences was recognized as limited by the reinforcement of institutionalized discrimination. For most adolescents, leisure is a means for exploring, committing to, and internalizing both public and personal identities, but the same is not possible for LGBTQ youth who do not feel as if they can internalize leisure identity without fostering the perception of a stigmatized social identity. The authors suggested that marginalization undermined even the very thought of a possibility that leisure might be used as a context for developing social identity in LGBTQ youth, and concluded that this group, in contrast to the general population, develops personal but not social identity through leisure.
  8. 8. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 8 Heteronormativity as Compulsory Standard in Leisure and Sport Societal heteronormativity is defined as “the assumption that there exists only two sexes with dichotomously affixed gender meanings that substantiate heterosexual attraction and relationships as the norm” (Sartore & Cunningham, 2009, p. 289). Furthermore, it is the pervasive, institutionalized reinforcement of gendered hierarchies and of the power and status differences existing between heterosexual individuals and individuals with nonnormative sexual identities (Sartore & Cunningham, 2009, p. 290). The context of leisure and sport is widely regarded as a construct in which heteronormativity is socially and institutionally reinforced (Messner, 2002; Barber & Krane, 2005; Messner & Solomon, 2007; Griffin, 1998), and various studies have examined the impact of compulsory heteronormativity on individuals with nonnomorative sexual identities (Sartore & Cunningham, 2009; Lenskyj, 2012; Elling & Janssens, 2009). It is also commonly argued that leisure studies research operates within the same heteronormative, dichotomous context that dictates the construct that it studies (Robinett, 2014). Sartore & Cunningham (2009) addressed the causalities and consequences of the lesbian stigma within the sport context. The article explains that social status is linked to conformance to gender ideals and that, just as low status, out-group membership leaves women vulnerable to stigmatization, high status, in-group membership allows male dominance. The negative effects of lesbian stigma on women are both a result and a perpetuation of heterosexual norms, and the stigma contributes to the continued gendered nature of sport and marginalization of both women and LGBTQ individuals. The authors conclude that nearly all women, whether they identify as lesbian or not, are conscious of the lesbian stigma and can experience the status loss and discrimination that come with the
  9. 9. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 9 lesbian label. While the focus is on the impact of lesbian stigma on women of all sexualities, the article acknowledges that women identifying as lesbian are susceptible to increased negative effects due to their being either more or less vigilant to avoiding the stigma based on the publicity of their identities. Elling and Janssens (2009) employed poststructuralist quantitative methodology in an effort to improve upon the largely postpositive, qualitative research that dominates LGBTQ leisure literature. The authors conceded that these qualitative studies have been successful in establishing the ideas that lower social status individuals participate in mainstream leisure at a lower rate and that exclusionary mechanisms for LGBTQ individuals do exist in various activities and organizational structures. They justified their focus on compiling empirical quantitative data with the lack of participation figures for LGBTQ individuals due to the stigma that has limited its study as an independent social variable. The study considered the participation rates of LGBTQ men and women in comparison to heterosexual men and women. The results suggested that participation patterns are partly structured by sexuality as evidenced by the definitive impact of fear of homonegativity on the leisure choices of gay men and by the tendency of lesbian women to participate in “masculine” activities at a higher rate than heterosexual women. The authors concluded that “non-heterosexual sports biographies do not only reflect ‘individual leisure preferences’ but also constant – subconscious – negotiations of leisure motivations, social identifications, and experiences or expected . . . constraints with respect to [homonegativity] and heteronormativity” (pp. 83-84). Lenskyj (2012) reflected on the characterization of heteronormativity and gender identities in leisure and sport media as well as how sport and leisure discourse has fueled
  10. 10. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 10 heteronormativity and homonegativity. The article considered the perception that “in sport ‘all the men are straight and all the women are gay’” and discussed heteronormativity as social control. The author concluded that, while more progressive trends in media treatment of sexuality issues have emerged, it is crucial to continue to examine heteronormativity and sexual identities through the development of intersectional analysis perspectives. LGBTQ Leisure Research as Metaliterary Critique As the author has alluded throughout this paper, there is an ethic of consistent academic consideration of effectiveness woven throughout the leisure research related to issues of nonnormative sexual identities. This metaliterary critique of the effectiveness of different theoretical perspectives and methodologies is the basis of many recent works surrounding this topic. Robinett (2014) examined the level of corruption that heteronormative ideologies have rendered upon otherwise socially just research. Johnson and Kivel (2007) introduced a broader theoretical perspective building on queer theory that “problematizes the rigid and mutually exclusive categories of identity that organize contemporary social science research” (p. 93). Robinett (2014) critiqued the tendency toward dichotomous, heteronormative ideologies in leisure research, a tendency that he described as pervasive even in works on topics of nonnormative sexual identities. The article is centered on the critical theoretical perspective of emancipatory research. This methodology is characterized by the offer of “the capacity for individual and collective healing when participants develop shared understandings of relational positions, privileges, and tensions that are negotiated through lived experiences” (p. 373). The article suggested that emancipatory research, supported
  11. 11. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 11 by the agenda of social justice, could allow scholars to frame their own experiences, positions, and findings more effectively and to better negotiate the complexities of individual and collective understandings. The author posited that this practice would allow leisure scholars to better understand the level to which heteronormative ideologies have “infected” research and to better prevent further “infection” in their own work. He concluded that “mindful attention to what ideologies research counters or supports and [clear positioning of] the researcher’s purpose can be practices of emancipation” (p. 376). Johnson and Kivel (2007) suggested that leisure scholars have generally studied issues relating to LGBTQ individuals without using LGBTQ theory. The least effective studies, they argued, have examined aspects of LGBTQ leisure – satisfaction, health-related benefits – without acknowledging the hetero/homosexual binary. Other more successful studies have examined the binary but have failed to offer any substantial critique or to challenge the stability of heteronormative leisure: “While Bialeschki and Pearce (1997), Hekma (1998), and Jacobson and Samdahl (1998) all do an excellent job of examining, and to some extent critiquing, the heterosexual/homosexual binary, they do little in the way of deconstructing or challenging our current heterosexual ideologies and/or the socially constructed heterosexual/homosexual binary” (p. 96). The authors established a need for a more critical sociological analysis, as opposed to narrow social psychological commitment, in studying issues of nonnormative sexual identities in leisure and sports. The authors argued that this shift could be achieved with the critical employment of queer theory (see subsection below) and that the use of queer as both theory and practice could transform and subvert marginalizing structures of heteronormativity in both leisure practice and study. The article concluded that “incorporating a gay and lesbian theoretical perspective
  12. 12. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 12 requires a shift in thinking beyond studies of those individuals who identify as gay or lesbian” and seeks “to offer a framework to discuss topics that expand the opportunities and resources for non-oppressive interaction by critiquing the underlying ideology that surrounds dominant heterosexual attitudes, values, and beliefs” (p. 95-97). Queer Theory Queer theory is rooted in the work of Foucault (1978), who argued that sex is a cause, not an effect, of gender relations and encouraged sexuality scholars “to reason that sexuality is always historically based on and produced by the dominant culture’s use of power” (Johnson & Kivel, 2007, p. 97). It combines knowledge of genealogies of sex and gender and the concept of homosexuality to critically examine the domination of heteronormativity in a step toward liberating LGBTQ individuals (Johnson and Kivel, 2007, p. 102). It is “not a singular or systematic conceptual or methodological framework, but a collection of intellectual engagements with the relations between sex, gender, and sexual desire” (Spargo, 1999, p. 9). It is a mass of scholarship on nonnormative sexualities that attempts “to illustrate how lesbians and gay men negotiate with institutions and individuals more or less hostile, neutral, or external to them” (Marcus, 2005, p.213). Beyond this perspective built on the extant literature of LGBTQ experience, queer theory by simple definition is the critical study of all things considered abnormal. Johnson and Kivel (2007) suggest that queer theory can be critically employed to vastly improve the quality and emancipatory power of leisure research on the issues of nonnormative sexual identities.
  13. 13. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 13 Conclusion Issues of nonnormative sexual identities have become pervasive topics of discourse both in public and scholarly settings. The leisure studies discipline has followed this trend, and there exists a diverse and expanding body of knowledge related to issues of leisure for individuals with nonnormative sexual identities. In order to inform continued research on the topic, the author has found it necessary to build vaguely comprehensive understanding of the body of knowledge related to LGBTQ leisure. A survey of major themes—constraints of homonegativity and discrimination, leisure as a context for identity development, and the problematic nature of compulsory heteronormativity—contributes to this framework. An understanding of the significance of intentionally selecting the most effective critical theoretical perspective, as investigated within metaliterary studies regarding LGBTQ leisure issues, has also been identified as crucial. This exploratory review of themes throughout major contributions to the body of knowledge has revealed an evolution of focus that will guide further research. While the understanding of specific facets of LGBTQ leisure experiences (such as youth identity development and successful aging) within the standard heteronormative view has and will continue to be important, it is evident that research can be significantly more powerful if it focuses on deconstructing this heteronormativity to enact social justice and galvanize real emancipatory change. The critical adaptation of queer theory in LGBTQ leisure research, as advocated in Johnson and Kivel (2007), can bring about a dynamic challenge to the established structures of heteronormativity in society and in the literature by offering “diverse subjectivities with multiple theoretical utilities” and “studying phenomenon such as leisure and sport in ways that challenge normative discursive ideologies and arouse
  14. 14. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 14 political activism in an effort to eliminate injustice” (p. 103). By focusing on the systemic problem that necessitates this research, and by expanding the definition from queer in the sense of sexuality to all identities and experiences that are considered abnormal, leisure scholars not only make themselves more powerful forces for change but also expose themselves to seemingly inexhaustible opportunities for future study.
  15. 15. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 15 References Caldwell, L. L., Kivel, B. D., Smith, E. A., & Hayes, D. (1998). The Leisure context of adolescents who are lesbian, gay male, bisexual, and questioning their sexual identities: An exploratory study. Journal of Leisure Research, 30(3), 341-355. Elling, A., & Janssens, J. (2009). Sexuality as a structural principle in sport participation. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 44(1), 71-86. Foucault, M. (1978). The history of sexuality. New York: Pantheon Books. Griffin, P. (1998). Strong women, deep closets: lesbians and homophobia in sport. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics Publishers. Jacobson, S., & Samdahl, D. M. (1998). Leisure in the lives of old lesbians: Experiences with and responses to discrimination. Journal of Leisure Research, 30(2), 233-255. Johnson, C. W. (1999). Living the game of hide and seek: Leisure in the lives of gay and lesbian young adults. Leisure/Loisir, 24(3-4), 255-278. Johnson, C. W., & Kivel, B. (2007). Gender, sexuality and queer theory in sport. In Aitchison, C. C. (Ed.), Sport and gender identities: masculinities, femininities and sexualities (pp. 93-105). New York: Routledge. Jones, C. C. (2010). Playing at the queer edges. Leisure Studies, 29(3), 269-287. Kelly, J. R. (1983). Leisure identities and interactions. London: George Allen & Unwin. Kivel, B. D. (1994). Lesbian and gay youth and leisure: Implications for practitioners and researchers. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 12(4), 15-28. Kivel, B. D., & Kleiber, D. A. (2000). Leisure in the identity formation of lesbian/gay youth: Personal, but not social. Leisure Sciences, 22, 215-232.
  16. 16. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 16 Kleiber, D. A. (1999). Leisure experience and human development: A dialectical interpretation. New York: Basic Books, Inc. Krane, V., & Barber, H. (2005). Identity tensions in lesbian intercollegiate coaches. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 76(1), 67-81. Larson, R. (1994). Youth organizations, hobbies, and sports as development contexts. In Silbereisen, R. K., & Todt, E. (Eds.), Adolescence in context: The interplay of family, school. Peers, and work in adjustment (pp. 46-64). New York: Springer-Verlag. Lenskyj, H. J. (2012). Reflections on communication and sport: On heteronormativity and gender identities. Communication & Sport, 1(1/2), 138-150. Marcus, S. (2005). Queer theory for everyone: A review essay. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 31(1), 191-218. Messner, M. A. (2002). Taking the field: Women, men, and sports. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. Messner, M. A., & Solomon, N. M. (2007). Social Justice and Men's Interests The Case of Title IX. Journal of sport & social issues, 31(2), 162-178. Robinett, J. (2014). Heteronormativity in leisure research: emancipaton as social justice. Leisure Sciences: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 36(4), 365-378. Roderick, T., McCammon, S. L., Long, T. E., & Allred, L. J. (1998). Behavioral aspects of homonegativity. Journal of Homosexuality, 36(1), 79-88. Sartore, M. L., & Cunningham, G. B. (2009). The Lesbian stigma in the sport context: Implications for women of every sexual orientation. Quest, 61(3), 289-305. Spargo, T. (1999). Postmodern encounters: Foucalt and queer theory. New York: Totem Books.
  17. 17. ISSUES OF LEISURE FOR PEOPLE WITH NONNORMATIVE SEXUALITIES 17 State & Local Advocacy. (2015). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://www.hrc.org/topics/state-advocacy

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