Title page for ETD etd-11062012-172938

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Thani, Glodean Qondile Tintswalo
Email glodean_thani@yahoo.com
URN etd-11062012-172938
Document Title Constructions of dislosure by black lesbians in South Africa
Degree Master of Arts
Department Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Ms I Lynch Supervisor
  • disclosure
  • social construction
  • lesbian
  • identity
  • black
Date 2012-04-17
Availability restricted
The dominant belief about homosexuality in South Africa is that it is un-African. There however, are reports within literature that allude to the presence of homosexual relationships between women. This belief results in intolerance towards lesbians in South Africa. Some constructions focus on homosexual relationships among sangomas and the relationships of mummy-baby relationships in Africa. These constructions conceal same-sex sexuality as individuals do not necessarily identify as being lesbian in these contexts. The individuals who claim a lesbian identity in modern times have to find a way to exist within a patriarchal society that is often judgmental towards those who do not conform to predetermined gender roles. As questions regarding future plans of nuptials and children surface they are faced with the challenge of disclosure. The act of disclosure confirms that an individual ascribes to a lesbian identity. This qualitative study explored the experiences of disclosure by five black lesbians in Pretoria, South Africa, using a social constructionist lens. The sample was obtained using snowball sampling. Using a semi-structured interview guide to obtain the data the study focused on the participants’ disclosures of their sexual orientation as well as the reactions that these disclosures evoke. The meanings that the participants have attached to these reactions are explored in relation to the impact that these reactions have on the individual’s life.

Using thematic analysis, the research discovered that disclosures were difficult for black lesbians as a result of the social climate of intolerance and patriarchal expectations of conformity to pre-determined gender roles. The prospective disclosures are marred by fear of rejection and of violent reactions by community members who threatened the participants with corrective rape. The culture of homo-negativity encourages social rejection of lesbians and confines them to certain spaces where they are accepted. Thus the decision to disclose is often a difficult one for the individual, with many choosing non-disclosure. The researcher concluded that there was an inclination for participants to disclose to friends as they predominantly refrained from disclosing to their families due to fear of the perceived permanency of their sexual orientation. This affirmed the constructed nature of sexuality in that some participants acknowledged that their sexuality was not permanent but that it changed according to their needs. This was also illustrated in their associations with both male and female relationships as well as in the way some participants described prospects of marriage to males as part of predetermined gender roles.

Copyright © 2011, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria

Please cite as follows:

Thani, GQT 2011, Constructions of dislosure by black lesbians in South Africa, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-011062012-172938 / >


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