Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-13-2015

Major Department or Program



David Hutson


The experience of individuals with same-sex attractions in American society has changed significantly in the last few decades. It is widely argued that we have entered a post-closet era in which GLBTQ individuals are no longer required to hide their sexuality, allowing for the normalization and de-centering of sexual identity—what is also referenced as being “post-gay.” As GLBTQ identities become more normalized and routinized, the role of GLBTQ communities in people’s lives may also be changing. The present study examines how GLBTQ-identified individuals relate to GLBTQ communities in a socio-historical moment that is both post-closet and post-gay. Through in-depth interviews with 14 students at a liberal arts college widely recognized for its “queer-friendly” policy and culture, is was revealed that the normalization and acceptance of GLBTQ identities resulted in a very dispersed GLBTQ community with four recognizable dimensions: phantom community, organic community, organized community, and ideal community. By recognizing that community still holds tangible meaning for individuals regardless of their connection to sexual identity, this study suggests the varying, yet continued importance of GLBTQ communities in post-closet, post- gay environment.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Whitman College -- Students, Norm (Philosophy) -- History -- 21st Century, Social acceptance -- LGBTQ, Lesbian community -- Washington (State), Gay community -- Washington (State), Sexual minorities in higher education, Community and college, Socio-histoires -- Movements, Walla Walla (Wash.), Whitman College 2015 -- Dissertation collection -- Sociology Department

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Document Type

Whitman Community Accessible Thesis

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