Gay men, well-being, and sport participation: A phenomenological analysis
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AbstractThere is a growing interest among scholars and practitioners in LGBTQ+ experiences in sport and leisure. While much of this work has examined homophobia and negative experiences, few studies have examined positive sport experiences of LGBTQ+ athletes. To add to that growing body of literature, the purpose of this study was to explore how gay men navigate potentially stressful environments and derive experiences of well-being, and to gather phenomenological accounts of how gay men derive and experience well-being through sports participation despite the stressful environment they may represent for LGBTQ+ athletes. Specifically, I explored how minority stress theory can provide a deeper understanding of the role stressors play in how gay men derive experiences of well-being through sport participation. Using a phenomenological approach, data were collected through semi-structured interviews with nine gay men between the ages of 32 and 43. Themes that capture the overall phenomenon were constructed. These were Craving Community: Reconciling Past Experiences, Sports and Living Authentically, and Sports as an Escape. The data demonstrated the complexity of the gay men's experiences of well-being and allowed me to explore participants' similar and unique experiences in sport more deeply. The findings highlight the ways in which gay men derive well-being from sports participation and the roles stressors play in how they derive that well-being. This study provides a deeper theoretical understanding of the experiences of gay men participating in sports, as well as highlighting how gay men derive positive outcomes from these experiences.
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