Abstract: Community, Attachment, Structures and the Epidemic maps some of the changes in gay men's experience and conceptualisation of community that have occurred during the AIDS epidemic. Social identity theory has been employed to investigate the social-psychological aspects of gay identity at personal, social and community levels. The study compares three generations of gay men in Melbourne; pre- peri- and post-AIDS. As a starting point, the study employed focus groups to explore basic conceptions of gay community. In the first of two major data collection phases, 32 gay men between the ages of 18 and 40 participated in semistructured interviews of between 45 minutes and one and a half hours. The interviews explored the men's social networks, past and present relationship to the commercial gay scene, feelings about gay organisations businesses, neighbourhoods, entertainment, aesthetics, the way they see other gay people, their thoughts about the impact of AIDS on gay communities and their aspirations for gay communities. The second phase of data collection utilised a questionnaire developed from the analysis of the interviews. The 55 item questionnaire covered demographic information, coming out history, initial experiences of the gay world, friendship networks, feelings about the institutions, people and conceptual elements of gay community, items concerning practices of gay community, the community attachment subscale from the SAPA study and items on HIV/AIDS. The questionnaire was completed by 432 gay men, 207 recruited at the Midsumma carnival, an annual gay and lesbian event in Melbourne and 225 through the mailing list of the Victorian AIDS Council. Analysis of the questionnaire data uncovered a complex constellation of difference in the conceptualisation and experience of gay community between the groups, particularly with regard to the content and boundaries of the category 'gay community'. The research challenges practice based models of gay community attachment and proposes a more dynamic, fluid and multi-dimensional conceptualisation of gay social identity.
Thesis (Ph.D.) - La Trobe University, 1998.
Originally part of the Australasian Digital Theses (ADT) database.
Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment for the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy [to the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society], Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora.
This thesis contained third party copyright material which has been removed. The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over all other content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis.