"I knew I wasn´t like anybody else" - Young men´s accounts of coming out and being gay in Northern Ireland
School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work ARK, Queen's University Belfast Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Twenty one-to-one in-depth interviews were conducted with young gay and bisexual men in Northern Ireland between 2000 and 2006. The interviews were part of two larger mixed-methods projects: one undertaken by the University of Ulster and fpaNI on sexual attitudes and lifestyles of 14-25 year olds, the other one conducted by the Rainbow Project (a local advocacy organisation for gay and bisexual men) on mental health of same-sex attracted young men. During the interviews the respondents were asked to recall their experiences of coming out and living as same-sex attracted people in Northern Ireland.
My presentation aims to do two things: Firstly, I will relate the collected biographical interview data to a theoretical model of gay identity formation. In order to do this, sociological narrative text-analytical coding techniques are used to identify core categories and themes of the coming-out process experienced by the young people interviewed. Secondly, I will then contextualise the interview material by addressing how Northern Ireland?s particular macro-sociological circumstances may impact on identity formation. The evidence provided will draw on data from recent surveys undertaken in Northern Ireland a well as material from the wider public debate on homosexuality in the Northern Irish society.