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Privileged Allies in Lesbian and Gay Rights Activism: Gender, Generation, and Resistance to Heteronormativity

Authors


  • We are grateful to Nicola Curtin, L. E. Hunter, Nicky Newton, and Danielle Shapiro for feedback on an earlier draft of this article. We also thank the faculty and graduate student members of three research groups at the University of Michigan that have provided insight and suggestions on the projects as they were developed: Sexual Diversity, Gender and Respect in Organizations, and Gender and Personality in Context.

Samantha A. Montgomery, Departments of Psychology and Women's Studies, University of Michigan, 3256 East Hall, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 [e-mail: smontgo@umich.edu].

Abstract

In two studies, we examined the relationship between resistance to heteronormativity and political engagement among heterosexuals. In the first, we examined the relationship between awareness of heterosexual privilege, resistance to heteronormativity, and engagement in lesbian and gay rights activism among contemporary heterosexual college students. As expected, women scored higher than men on both heterosexual privilege awareness and resistance to heteronormativity. For women, both heterosexual privilege awareness and resistance to heteronormativity were related to engagement in lesbian and gay rights activism. In the second study, we examined heteronormative attitudes in three cohorts of women spanning 40 years (college graduates in 1951/2, 1972, and 1992), looking at both generational differences in endorsement of heteronormative attitudes and the relationship of these attitudes to engagement in lesbian and gay rights activism. As expected, the two younger cohorts of women were significantly less heteronormative than the oldest cohort. Implications of these results are discussed.

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