Date of Award

Fall 1-6-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Michelle Zoss

Second Advisor

Janice Fournillier

Third Advisor

Charity Gordon

Fourth Advisor

Ed Brockenbrough


Black gay young men participate in a unique culture that is representative of their identities and the agency they have over their identity performances. The purpose of this study was to explore how young men who self-identify as both Black and gay leveraged Discourses in social spaces that were typically oppressive. Discourse performances in such spaces were both influenced and molded by the setting in which these young men found themselves and the cultural background they brought with them (Almelhi, 2020). I used multiple phases of analysis to understand how Black gay young men in the South existed in their surroundings. Viewing these performances allowed me to explore how language and discourse made a difference when understanding how Black gay young men chose to define and present their identity to others. This study further explored whether Black gay young men challenged and disrupted hegemonic social constructs through their chosen Discourse and identity performances. Grounded in Queer of Color Critique (QOCC, Brockenbrough, 2015) and Intersectionality (Collins, 2019), this study joined the conversation of identity as a performance (Holland et al., 2014) through a Narrative Inquiry framework, centering the stories of Black gay young men (Rogan & de Kock, 2005). I collected interview and focus group data and approached analysis using tools of critical discourse analysis, QOCC, and intersectionality to focus on young men as the narrators of their own stories of identity. I found (1) authentic expression, (2) visibility, (3) being both queer and spiritual, and (4) community each motivated these Black gay young men to be authentic and present with the identities they performed. Through this study, I explored how Black gay young men use their Discourses to challenge and resist hegemonic heteronormative ideologies, making it achievable for them to exist in all spaces. The implications that show the importance for Black gay young men being seen for who they are in familial, community, and educational spaces.


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