Migrant men: managing gay and European identities in London


  • Gian Nicola Bagnara


London and its multicultural arena provide the socio-geographical niche for the qualitative analysis of identity processes. In this report I explore the psychological strategies adopted by migrant gay men to manage multiple identities. Grounded theory was used to discover dominant themes emerging from respondents’ narratives about the interplay between European, national, migrant and gay identities. My analysis suggests that multiple identities are managed as a form of resistance against the oppression inflicted by mainstream heteronormative structures. The ‘self in action’, the major emergent theme, downplays fixed identities, chooses amongst the available social scripts, and strives to generate new forms of cultural and social capital. Despite a favourable socio-political climate, respondents’ narratives reflect the crisis of the London gay community in providing ‘positive gay visibilities’ that go beyond the commercial scene. The implications of multiple identities for research, as well as the risks involved with qualitative analysis of small samples, are also discussed.