Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Family studies

Publication Details

Successfully submitted to the Technological University Dublin in part fulfilment of the requirements for award of Masters in Child, Family and Community Studies, 2015.


This research aimed to explore the perspectives of young males with regard to their experience of non-heterosexual sexuality transitions and the potential influences on this transition within an Irish context. A qualitative research approach was adopted, using semi-structured interviews with young males between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-two. This method allowed for the details of participants‟ lived experience and their individual perceptions to be captured. Key findings suggest that experiences of non-heterosexual sexuality transitions in both family and friendship contexts shaped how the transition was negotiated. Disclosure of sexual minority status to family members is still a significant issue for many individuals and can be met with a wide variety of responses. Despite negative initial responses the transition generally strengthened and positively impacted on family and friendship relationships over time. The overwhelming majority of sexuality related support was found to come from friends, with non-heterosexual friends in particular offing support in terms of understand and reassurance.

A significant finding of this research was the monumental influence social and historical context had on non-heterosexual sexuality transitions. The fact that heterosexist beliefs and values were reaffirmed constantly through cultural institutions meant that sexual minority issues were invisible within cultural discourse. This lead to isolation and stigmatisation. Individuals had very different approaches to coming to terms with their sexuality. These varying approaches stemmed from differences in personality, cognitive processes and coping mechanisms.

The individual nature and multiple influences on how non-heterosexual sexuality transitions are negotiated highlight the need to develop and explore inclusive theoretical frameworks that allow for variation in historical, cultural and psychological contexts. Interventions and practitioners working with sexual minorities should also consider the importance of recognising the unique challenges each individual faces and the specific supports that might work for them. This should limit the potential for making assumptions and generalizations about sexual minorities and help identify positive influencing factors which could be built upon.