Date of Award

1-1-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Psychology and Social Science

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Professor Margaret Sims

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Trudi Cooper

Abstract

In this dissertation I examine “gay” life in the Philippines by focusing on a longstanding friendship group of same-sex attracted middle-class young men living in Metro Manila who identify as bakla/gay/homosexual. I explain how dynamics of gender and sexuality including identity expression are conceptualised, articulated and negotiated through the interphase of Philippine culture, social class, economic status and the cultural appropriation and adaptation of elements of Western gay discourse and lifestyle. Ethnography was selected as the most appropriate qualitative research method because of its theoretical and philosophical “fit” with the methodological assumptions that underpin this study. A key feature in both the theoretical and ideological approaches taken in this project has been the inclusion of Filipino theoretical perspectives rather than coming from a purely Western paradigmatic viewpoint. I argue that collectivism is a fundamental concept and guiding principle that underscores Filipino cultural life and societal worldview, and because of these affectations, dynamically informs on the ways in which social relations of gender and sexuality are structured and experienced. Western societies function on the psychological and ethical principle of individualism (a concept connected with notions of political autonomy rather than group association), and it is because of the inherent differences between these social paradigms that I conclude that local Filipino forms of homoeroticism and gender variance are conceived in cultural conditions unlike those embodied in equivalent Western metropoles. The data presented in this dissertation elucidates these systemic differences by exploring pertinent social issues that link the experience of urban Filipino cultural life with gender and sexuality.

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