Private versus public : how one gay professor negotiates the boundaries between his personal and professional lives /
MacBride, John D.
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This study examined how one university professor negotiated the boundaries between his personal life as a gay man and his professional life as a teacher. Using his sexual orientation as a focal point, the study explored the circumstances and underlying assumptions that influenced this professor's decisions to disclose information of a personal nature. Data collection was solicited from a number of sources: (a) In-depth interviews with the participant, his colleagues, students, and friends; (b) Field observation of the participant teaching over a 3 -day period; and (c) A document review of lesson plans, course outlines, student feedback forms, and the participant's teaching portfolio. The researcher maintained both observation journals and reflective journals during this process. Data analysis using the constant comparative method elicited several themes. The participant engaged in a variety of strategies in disclosing his sexual orientation that included: (a) no disclosure at all, (b) assuming people knew, (c) casually mentioning it in conversation, and (d) deliberately planning to tell someone. The participant also engaged in an ongoing assessment of his environment that included evaluating the level of risk in disclosing his sexual orientation and assessing the listener's ability to receive the information. The participant cited numerous reasons for disclosing his sexual orientation. Further inquiry revealed a number of belief systems that underlined these reasons. These belief systems included beliefs around privacy, authenticity, teaching, manners, professionalism, and homosexuality. The conclusions suggested that the participant utilized a consistent process in both his personal and professional lives to determine what information was kept private and what information was made public. While the process used to determine the degree of disclosure was consistent, the actual disclosures themselves varied widely in nature.