True confessions: why I left a traditional liberal arts college for the sins of the big city
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Authors: Jones, K.
Journal: Qualitative Research Journal
© 2017, © Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: By means of several auto-ethnographic stories (including a scene from a working script for a proposed film), the author interrogates numerous ideas and misconceptions about gay youth, both past and present. A “bargain of silence” sometimes following gay sexual encounters in youth is described. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach: The author recounts a sexual experience with a male college student in his past. This dissonance catapulted the author to move from his small liberal arts college to the city and begin his education again at an art college. Findings: The author then describes his personal attraction to a 16-year-old boy who lived near his lodgings during one summer’s break from art college. This time, the relationship remained purely platonic, but that did not seem to matter where the boy’s parents were concerned. The author’s social position and pretence coupled with his romantic outlook convinced him that anything was possible, even this platonic love. The painful lesson learned that summer was that this was not the case, and never would be. The boy’s parents threatened Jones, and he never saw the youth again. The author continues by discussing his award-winning research-based film, Rufus Stone, and the reactions and conversations following screenings, particularly with youth. This present generation seems to Jones to be a sexually ambivalent one, more comfortable with multiple choices or no choice at all. Nonetheless, these young people do identify with the complexity of feelings and insecurities presented by youth within the film. Research limitations/implications: In a recent report on sexuality of American high school students by the Center for Disease Control, researchers found an ambivalence and “dissonance” amongst youth regarding sexuality and choice. The author acknowledges that there remains a contemporary problem of genuine acceptance by society, and that there still is work to be done. He also admits that present-day attitudes by youth regarding sexuality are one that he had previously assumed to be historical ones. Originality/value: Being straight or being gay can be viewed within the wider culture’s need to set up a sexual binary and force sexual “choice” decision-making for the benefit of the majority culture. Through the device of the fleeting moment, this essay hopes to interrogate the certainties and uncertainties of the “norms” of modernity by portraying sexuality in youth.