Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Sociology


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Kirsten Dellinger

Second Advisor

Ross Haenfler

Third Advisor

Barbara Combs

Relational Format



This thesis is an exploratory qualitative sociological analysis of gender, sexuality, and race among "out" lesbians in the U.S. south. In this thesis, I explore the following questions: (1) what labels are self-identified lesbians in the south using and/or applying to themselves, and how do they use them? (2) how do they talk about and experience their dress as a part of their identity? (3) how are lesbians doing gender and sexuality in both private and professional environments? (4) how does southern location influence lesbians' conceptualization of their gender and sexuality? This research expands current understandings in the literature regarding the complex intersections of gender, sexual identity, and race in a southern lesbian group. I conducted 12 qualitative, in-depth interviews with self-identifying lesbians ranging in age from 19 and 35, currently residing in one of the following states located in the southeastern region of the US: Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Of the 12 respondents interviewed, 8 identified as black/African American, 3 identified as white/Caucasian, and 1 identified as multi-racial. This study allosouthern lesbians to indicate and describe the use and function of labels they apply to themselves and others in their own words. Additionally, this study examines how southern lesbians do gender through their appearance and how southern location influences the way they conceptualize their gender and sexuality.

Included in

Sociology Commons



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