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In a Queer Voice

In a Queer Voice: Journeys of Resilience from Adolescence to Adulthood

Michael Sadowski
Foreword by Carol Gilligan
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 206
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  • Book Info
    In a Queer Voice
    Book Description:

    Adolescence is a difficult time, but it can be particularly stressful for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identifying youth. In order to avoid harassment and rejection, many LGBTQ teens hide their identities from their families, peers, and even themselves.Educator Michael Sadowski deftly brings the voices of LGBTQ youth out into the open in his poignant and important book, In a Queer Voice. Drawing on two waves of interviews conducted six years apart, Sadowski chronicles how queer youth, who were often "silenced" in school and elsewhere, now can approach adulthood with a strong, queer voice.In a Queer Voice continues the critical conversation about LGBTQ youth issues-from bullying and suicide to other risks involving drug and alcohol abuse-by focusing on the factors that help young people develop positive, self-affirming identities. Using the participants' heartfelt, impassioned voices, we hear what schools, families, and communities can do to help LGBTQ youth become resilient, confident adults.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0803-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Education, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Carol Gilligan

    A voice that sounds different may be called just that—a different voice. Or it may be called odd, or deviant, or queer. The implication is that there is a right way to speak and that this different voice is somehow not right. At the time I wroteIn a Different Voice, women, insofar as they differed from men, were considered to be either less or more than human. Like children, they were seen as not fully developed, or they were regarded as saints. Listening to women at that time, I heard the differences that led Freud to describe women...

  4. Introduction: The Importance of Being Heard
    (pp. 1-16)

    To grow up lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) in the United States is to be aware of a profound silence in our relationships, our society, and in many cases even ourselves. Despite recent political and social gains such as the legalization of same-sex unions in some states, glimpses of LGBTQ (or at least gay and lesbian) visibility on television and in other media, and the growing support for some LGBTQ rights among segments of the U.S. population, we still live in a culture in which presumed heterosexuality and traditional messages about gender dominate us from birth. Children and...

  5. 1 David: The Slow Build of a Voice of Resistance
    (pp. 17-38)

    When David¹ first enrolled in the Harvard study on the relational lives of LGBTQ youth, he was well into his junior year at Carpenter College, a well-known urban liberal arts institution, even though he was only nineteen years old. An intelligent, articulate young white man with blond hair and bright blue eyes, David was remarkably forthcoming in our first interview about the harassment that led him to transfer districts during secondary school and then enroll at Carpenter a year early, during what would have been his senior year.² David’s memories of middle school and high school—and the feelings these...

  6. 2 Lindsey: Learning a New Language
    (pp. 39-59)

    Sitting on an old sofa in the “hangout” room at Youth-West on a Saturday afternoon, fifteen-year-old Lindsey is an open book. With her straight brown hair flowing down to the middle of her back, baggy untucked shirt, and fluid way of walking and moving, Lindsey exudes ease—that rare teenager who seems extremely comfortable in her own skin—and the forthcoming way in which she tells her story is in keeping with her physical presentation. Lindsey checked the boxes “female” and “bisexual” on the study’s preliminary survey, but when I ask in our first interview how she identifies herself in...

  7. 3 Ruth: A Person to Trust and a Place to Belong
    (pp. 60-76)

    Standing in a hilltop field on the small campus where Ruth attends graduate school, I cannot help being struck by the idyllic feel of the surroundings: the bright sun of an early fall day, the pair of Frisbee-playing dogs on the lawn, the inspiring vista of the city skyline in the distance. With the typically idealized perspective of an outsider, this strikes me as a perfect environment in which to attend graduate school, and I am happy for Ruth that she has made such a place her home. I meet Ruth in the vestibule of one of the campus’s well-ordered...

  8. 4 Travis: Twenty-First-Century Everyman
    (pp. 77-92)

    In comparison to David, the activist (Chapter 1); Lindsey, the peer educator and aspiring speaker (Chapter 2); and Ruth, the teacher, mentor, and academic (Chapter 3), Travis’s focus and ambitions are much more personal. Patching together income from two jobs at the time we meet for our Phase II interview, Travis, twenty-seven, was working late-evening shifts as a customer service leader at a big-box discount department store and as a baker and manager for a wholesale baking business, the Bakery Commons, of which he is part owner. Although Travis at first appears groggy and bleary-eyed on the morning we reconnect...

  9. 5 Jordan: Across the Gender Border—and Back Again
    (pp. 93-113)

    The story of Jordan begins as the story of Matt, a female-to-male transgender youth I met at YouthWest in 2004.¹ Although still biologically female, Matt presented himself at the time as a young man, with his brown hair cut short, the use of a typically male name, and the oversized flannel shirt and carpenter jeans typical of late adolescent boys in the rural community in which YouthWest is located. During our initial interview, Matt shares with me his plans to start taking male hormones within the next several months and to work toward a biological sex reassignment in the near...

  10. 6 Eddie: Coming Out and Embracing the World
    (pp. 114-130)

    Eddie was one of the first people I met at CityYouth and was president of the organization when I paid my first visit to introduce the study to the steering committee. A friendly, outgoing young white man with wide eyes and the quick speech patterns of someone always ready to take on the next challenge, Eddie struck me immediately as a natural leader. He met me with an outstretched hand and a readiness to listen, and although there were also several advisors sitting at the table of about a dozen CityYouth decision makers, I knew that Eddie’s support would be...

  11. 7 The Quest for “One Good Relationship”: Connections and Disconnections in Adolescence
    (pp. 131-152)

    The young adults profiled in Chapters 1 through 6 participated in both Phase I and Phase II of this multipart research, but twenty-four additional youth completed questionnaires, fourteen of whom also participated in in-depth interviews during Phase I of the project. I interviewed six of these additional participants myself and, when preparing to write this book, recalled hearing a broad range of relational experiences, particularly in school and family contexts, across their narratives.¹

    Despite my efforts to locate all the study participants whom I had personally interviewed and to invite them to participate in Phase II, I was not able...

  12. 8 Foundations of Queer Voice: Silence and Support in Schools, Communities, Families, and Society
    (pp. 153-169)

    The young adults and adolescents profiled in this book are survivors of trauma. Much of what took place in their homes, schools, and communities—including incessant harassment; attempts to convert them from homosexuality; and verbal, physical, and sexual abuse—can be considered nothing less. These are traumas specifically associated with growing up in a society that is homophobic and transphobic—that is, in which the fear-based marginalization of, discrimination against, and even contempt for LGBTQ people is in many ways still socially sanctioned.¹ Psychologist Annie G. Rogers (2006), drawing on her work with children and adolescents who have survived trauma,...

  13. Afterword
    (pp. 170-174)

    More than two decades separate my experiences in adolescence and young adulthood from those of the research participants profiled in this book. It would therefore be easy and convenient for me simply to assume the role of “objective” researcher on the issues affecting LGBTQ youth and view the findings from a purely empirical perspective. I might reasonably justify this stance on the grounds that these young people have grown up in a very different society than the one in which I began my coming-out process at the relatively late age of twenty-one. Certainly, schools, communities, and families are far different...

  14. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 175-176)
  15. Note on the Listening Guide Method
    (pp. 177-178)
  16. References
    (pp. 179-184)
  17. Online Resources for Supporting Queer Youth Voice
    (pp. 185-188)
  18. Index
    (pp. 189-196)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-197)