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Jewish gay men's accounts of negotiating cultural, religious, and sexual identity: A qualitative study

By A Coyle and D Rafalin

Abstract

<p>Research on the construction of lesbian and gay identity has represented this process as carrying considerable potential for intrapsychic and interpersonal stress and conflict. This process may be rendered even more psychologically challenging for those whose identities feature salient components that are not easily reconciled with a lesbian or gay identity. An example of this is the simultaneous holding of Jewish and gay identities. This paper reports findings from a qualitative study of 21 Jewish gay men in Britain. Participants were interviewed about the development of their gay identity, the relationship between their gay identity and their Jewish identity, the psychological and social implications of holding these identities, and strategies for managing any difficulties associated with this. Data were subjected to interpretative phenomenological analysis. All but one of the men reported experiences of identity conflict, arising mainly from the perceived incompatibility of Jewish and gay identities. This was said to have impacted negatively upon their psychological well-being. Those who had received negative reactions to the disclosure of sexual identity within Jewish contexts often attributed this to an anti-gay stance within Judaism and a concern with ensuring the continuation of the Jewish people. Various strategies were said to have been used to manage identity threat, including compartmentalizing Jewish and gay identity and revising the content or salience of Jewish identity. Recommendations are offered for psychological interventions which could help Jewish gay men manage identity conflict.</p

Year: 2000
DOI identifier: 10.1300/J056v12n04_02
OAI identifier: oai:epubs.surrey.ac.uk:1704

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