Threat, Citizenship and Sexual Orientation: Developing and Measuring the Concept of Gay Threat
Cooper, Elizabeth L.
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This dissertation develops and measures the concept of gay threat. It argues that Americans make judgments about the possibility of normative gay citizenship; some view the concept of "gay citizen" as an oxymoron, while others do not. Those who view gay citizenship as a contradiction in terms respond to the recent expansion in the visibility and legal recognition of GLBT communities with feelings of threat. This expansion makes impossible citizens a reality, potentially undermining the normative nature of the polity itself. I use in-depth interviews to document that Americans who view gay citizenship as impossible make similar negative evaluations of gay economic, political, and social behavior. These interviews also demonstrate that gay threat is distinct from religious objections to or disgust towards lesbians and gay men. The similar evaluations of gay economic, political, and social behavior form the basis of a gay threat scale, which I develop and test over four pilot surveys. A final version, on a survey fielded by the ANES, demonstrates that the gay threat scale is cohesive and that gay threat has a distinct association with gay and lesbian-related policy preferences, even after adjusting for other psychological traits and the gay and lesbian feeling thermometer.
- Political science