Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Social Work (M.S.W.)

Degree Program

School of Social Work


“Gay lifestyle" is a phrase which carries with it many limitations and negative perceptions. In this paper, Adlerian psychology is used to facilitate a more broad understanding of lesbian, gay and bisexual lifestyles. To accomplish this, individual functioning is examined within the context of the social environment. Review of the literature examines the areas of cultural values; moral thought; theories on the etiology of homosexuality; attitudes as cognitive, affective, and behavioral reactions; development of gay and lesbian subcultures; and actual lifestyle functioning of gay, lesbian and bisexual persons. Sociological theories of feminism, constructionism, essentialism. and interactionism are all used to highlight different elements in these areas. Actual lifestyle functioning of lesbian, gay and bisexual persons is further examined using Adler's life tasks to narrow the focus of study. Of Adler's three life tasks of work. love, and society, the task of society is examined by measurement of leisure time pursuits. Three objectives were identified in this study; 1) to become familiar with the constraints to lifestyle functioning experienced by gay and lesbian persons, 2) to begin broadening current understanding of gay lifestyle, and 3) to provide a foundation for future research in this area. These were accomplished by surveying members of the lesbian and gay community regarding their leisure time. Collaboration with a Grand Rapids organization (The Network) serving lesbians and gays made this possible. A pilot study of 15 individuals was conducted prior to mailing to the 500 members of this organization. Confidentiality was maintained in that The Network distributed these surveys without the researcher's knowledge of participant information. Instrumentation was based a tool measuring leisure time and developed by nationally recognized experts in the field. As no information was available on validity or reliability of this tool, limitations exist in interpreting data analysis. Additionally, convenience sampling prevents generalizing this study to the overall population of gay, lesbian and bisexual persons. Data analysis was conducted using techniques of analysis of variance, independent t-test, and chi-square. Additionally, basis content analysis was conducted in examined open-ended responses. The sample was composed of 50% lesbian women. 45% gay men. 4% bisexual women, and 1% bisexual men. Participant’s perceptions of inhibition in their leisure time and levels of identity disclosure were measured and were found to be significantly related to variables of leisure satisfaction and companionship. Age, gender, relationship status, and length of time in current relationship were found to be significantly related to leisure pursuits and values stereotypically attributed to lesbian, gay and bisexual persons. Issues of isolation and empowerment are discussed, implications for social work practice are presented, and recommendations for future research are suggested.


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