The Influence of Fraternal Membership on Bisexual, Pansexual, and Polysexual Members' Sexual Identity Development
AuthorLemerand, Steve Michael
Keywordsbisexual pansexual polysexual
queer student development
sexual identity development
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractResearchers have established that fraternity environments are rife with homophobia, heterosexism, and hypermasculinity, which diminish queer members’ experiences, force them to develop coping strategies, and limit opportunities for them to explore or develop their sexual identities. While numerous studies explored the experiences of queer members in fraternities, no study in the extant literature specifically explored the unique experiences of nonmonosexual (e.g., bisexual, pansexual, polysexual) members. All studies either neglected the nonmonosexual community or grouped them with other queer identities and assumed they have an indistinctive experience. Scholars have called upon student affairs practitioners and scholars to address monosexism in higher education, and the present study explored this gap in the literature. Using a narrative inquiry qualitative design, I engaged in semi-structured conversations with 8 nonmonosexual fraternity alumni, representing 8 undergraduate institutions and 7 inter/national fraternities. The conversations lasted 40-85-minutes and were recorded via Zoom. I conducted a thematic data analysis based on three-cycle coding and I made sense of three prevailing themes. First, participants’ fraternal membership facilitated liberatory firsts, including their first sense of self-acceptance, first time finding queer community, and/or first time acting upon their sexual identity externally. Second, participants became aware of and were forced to cope with the hostile environments in their fraternities by performing a masculine or heterosexual identity, distancing themselves from hypermasculinity, homophobia, and heterosexism, and/or splitting queerness from hostility. Third, participants addressed monosexism and biphobia in their fraternities by internally grappling with their identities and the performance thereof, responding head-on through education, and/or disengaging from the fight. A broader narrative of the present study is that fraternities are sites of multiplicity and complexity; the same environments and experiences that foster liberation for pan/bi/poly members may also re/create the negative implications of hetero/monosexism. Thus, the influence of fraternal membership is neither all good, nor all bad, but rather, multiple and complex. I conclude with five recommendations for practice: 1) resist monosexism as strongly as we resist heterosexism, 2) resist capitalist monosexism, 3) reimagine authenticity and queer student development, 4) deconstruct binaries, and 5) recognize the multiplicity and complexity of lived experience.
Degree ProgramGraduate College