Identity is complex. It refers to the unique constellation of elements that makes each and every one of us unique. It is created as we establish a unique view of ourselves. It grows as we encounter novelty in life. It is constantly defended. Identity regularly faces ‘threats’ which in turn prompt us to adopt strategies to cope. Some of these strategies are effective. Others are doomed to failure.
Minority groups, such as gay and bisexual men, face unique types of threat which may be chronic, long-standing and deep-rooted. Gay and bisexual men often create a sense of identity against a backdrop of heteronormativity. They sometimes come out to others and face hostile reactions. Many are subjected to stressors (e.g., discrimination) which can lead to identity threat. The coping strategies that they adopt will depend upon many distinct factors. Understanding the underpinnings of coping is key.
In his professorial inaugural lecture, Professor Rusi Jaspal will describe the major findings of his qualitative and quantitative research into the creation, growth and defence of identity among gay and bisexual men. This research has used identity process theory to understand “coming out”, the reconciliation of potentially competing identity elements (e.g., religion and sexuality) and, crucially, protective factors such as identity resilience.
Professor Jaspal will show how external stressors (e.g., stigma from other people) as well as those operating internally (e.g., self-stigma) can undermine identity processes, prompting gay and bisexual men to engage in strategies – some adaptive, others less so – to cope. The strategies can in turn have implications for health and wellbeing. Some practical recommendations for enhancing coping in groups and individuals facing, or at risk of, identity threat will be provided.
Free event. All are welcome. If you would like to attend, please register online no later than 48 hours prior to the event.