A-AVOIR Resistance : a cross cultural study of sexual citizenship in North America and France
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What forms of resistance are gay men in France and North America enacting against heteronormativity and homophobia? And why are they enacting these particular forms of resistance? To answer these questions, this thesis aims to draw connections between gay men's resistance strategies and larger socio-political phenomena in both France and North American cultures. First I focus on the discursive construction of citizens, both heterosexual and homosexual, in order to illustrate how gay men are relegated to second-class citizenship based on their sexual identities and practices. My focus, here, is cultural citizenship and sexual citizenship, two themes that run throughout this thesis. Next, I use Foucault's theories of knowledge-power to reveal how power relations in society discursively create subject positions, such as 'homosexuals' and 'heterosexuals', utilizing structures of control, norms, rewards, and punishments in order to champion heterosexuality to the detriment of homosexuality. In order to contest exercises of power, gay men engage in acts of resistance. i examine scholarly debates centered on resistance, and create a list of criterion for overt resistance, which I dub A AVOIR Resistance on account that it includes the characteristics of Action, Alternatives, Visibility, Opposition, Intent, and Recognition. Utilizing my rubric for overt resistance, as well as Foucault's notions of power, I analyze interview transcripts from a sample of gay men in North America and France to reveal that some gay men, living outside of large metropolitan areas, are rejecting hegemonic ideals of 'gayness' and integrating into mainstream heteronormative society. These men are creating what I call 'authentic communities' where many individuals from various backgrounds and lifestyles live together harmoniously based primarily on access to resources rather than identity markers such as sexual identity. this research shows a split between the ways that urban and suburban gay men embody their homosexuality. Since research on gay men focuses on those living in urban areas, my research calls, instead, for focus on suburban gay men and their resistance to homo-normative ideologies of what it means to me gay.