|dc.description.abstract||Few studies have been conducted looking at the experiences of graduate students within student affairs/higher education administration program. The purpose of this study was to investigate the coming out experiences of gay men in student affairs/higher education administration programs. The study was conducted with 11 participants, representing seven different student affairs/higher education programs across the United States. The study was intended to answer the following research questions:
1) How do gay men talk about their coming out experience when it occurs during their student affairs preparation program?
2) What environmental factors impact gay men’s coming out experiences?
3) What connections do gay men make between the graduate preparation program and the coming out process?
Each of the participants took part in two in-depth interviews. The first interview
was a life-history interview. The second interview focused primarily on the participants coming out experience and the factors leading to that decision.
The findings of this study offer greater understanding on the experiences of gay men in student affairs/higher education preparation programs. First, participants spoke of coming out being a fluid process. Meaning, disclosing one’s sexual orientation is an on-going process, not always defined by words, but more often by acts, thoughts, and behaviors. Secondly, environmental factors such as the role of faculty, staff, and classmates, as well as the opportunity to attend graduate school away from home served as support structures for participants in their decision to come out. Third, the academic program contributed to participants’ decision to publicly disclose their sexual orientation. Participants discussed the role of the academic curriculum, which provided them the opportunity to engage in conversations on topics germane to gay identity development. In addition activities such as self-reflective exercises allowed the men in the study to make meaning of their sexual identity. In close, three main themes were produce from the data that offer implications for practice, teaching, and future research.||