A qualitative analysis of the interpersonal experiences of bisexual women in a team sport environment

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University of New Brunswick


While there is a growing amount of research pertaining to the experiences of gay and lesbian participants in sport, there is currently a scarcity of knowledge surrounding the experiences of bisexual individuals within the context of sport. The little literature which does exist fails to address the experiences of bisexual individuals specifically. This study seeks to add to the literature pertaining to bisexual individuals within sport by exploring the experiences of bisexual-identifying women within a team sport context. Through the use of a constructivist epistemology, and employing a symbolic interactionist framework, six semi-structured interviews were analyzed using a methodology rooted in grounded theory. The data showed the current experiences of the Canadian women interviewed within their team sport environments were viewed positively. However, the positive nature of their experiences appeared to be due, in part, to their own successful navigation of their social spheres within sport. The data illustrated that the women’s interactions with team members were interpreted differently when they were closeted compared to when they were out to their teams; when closeted, their interactions were often dictated by fear. Regardless of their age, the women described situations where they were uncomfortable in their sport environment because of their bisexual identity. This discomfort led them to manage their stigmatized sexual identities in one of three ways: (1) through remaining closeted and/or avoiding disclosing or discussing their sexual identity; (2) through navigating their interpersonal experiences for the comfort of others; and (3) through finding “supportive environments” where team members were perceived to be accepting their sexual identities.