Heteronormativity in the Lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer Young People

Amanda M. Pollitt, Sara E. Mernitz, Stephen T. Russell, Melissa A. Curran, Russell B. Toomey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Heteronormativity, as defined in queer theory, is the presumption and privileging of heterosexuality. Research on how young people make sense of and narrate heteronormativity in their own lives is needed to inform theories of heteronormativity. Using queer and intersectional frameworks, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 14 sexual and gender minority young people (ages 18 to 24), analyzed using thematic analysis, to examine how young adults make sense of heteronormativity. Participants discussed how gender expression informed both sexuality and sexual attraction. Participants prioritized biological parenthood over other family constructions but rarely discussed marriage. Gender, sexuality, and race contributed important contexts for how participants described heteronormativity in their lives and should be the focus of future research. Finally, binaries of gender, sexuality, and family intersected in participants’ lives and their narrative constructions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)522-544
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Gay
  • bisexual
  • gender
  • intersectionality
  • lesbian
  • sexuality
  • transgender
  • youth/emerging adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • General Psychology


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