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Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the experiences of lesbian and gay band directors at varying stages of career development to discern how they have negotiated identity within their personal and professional lives. Ten band directors (8 males and 2 females) residing in Texas (n = 8), Florida (n = 1), and Illinois (n = 1) provided data through individual interviews, a focus group interview, and optional journaling. Findings were grouped into two broad themes: Negotiating Disclosure and Negotiating Success. Results indicated that most chose to disclose their sexual orientation to immediate colleagues (i.e., other band directors) but were much more guarded around students and students’ parents. Participants perceived that openness with colleagues had enriched working relationships but were concerned that disclosure with students and students’ parents could have negative ramifications. These decisions were based more on fear of parental responses rather than student attitudes. The men in this study were particularly concerned that any misperceptions might lead to unfounded assumptions of child abuse. Recognizing that potential prejudice might be dissipated through professional credibility and respect, participants placed high value on informal mentoring and support received from other lesbian and gay directors.

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