Date of Award

Fall 2005

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Soley, Lawrence

Second Advisor

Ugland, Erik

Third Advisor

Price, Jessica

Abstract

This study explores the experiences and beliefs of gay men who have been granted asylum in the United States on the basis of their sexual orientation. It shares their stories in their own words, and those stories raise questions: How do people come to define their sexual identity? Why do some people flee persecution while others do not even realize they are being persecuted? How do sexual minorities come to think of the U.S . as a haven, and why might they change their minds after they have arrived? To explore such questions, this study will filter the participants' stories through a theory of how people acquire beliefs and knowledge of the world around them-the "Social Construction of Reality" theory. This is not a how-to manual for seeking asylum. By giving voice to people who have been through the process, and by using communication theory to draw out interesting themes from their experiences, I hope to raise understanding and awareness of people who have been granted asylum in the U.S. because they are gay.

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