No business in the closet: investigating the strategies and experiences of gender and sexual minority entrepreneurs

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University of New Brunswick


L(esbian), G(ay), B(isexual), T(ransgender), Q(ueer), I(ntersexual), 2(-spirited), and + (other gender and sexual minorities) (LGBTQI2+) are a group seldom researched in the sociology of business, business/management studies, or entrepreneurship literature. Initially envisaged and set up as a study of gay male entrepreneurs, this thesis is a study of how LGTBQI2+ people both attempt to interact with and also respond to interactions from formal business networks and institutions. This study utilizes a combination of push/pull theories of entrepreneurship, network theory, masculinity gender theory, and Bourdieu’s theory of social capital to provide a theoretical lens to begin reassessing the motivations, experiences, and practices of LGBTQI2+ entrepreneurs. Using targeted, snowball, and convenience sampling methods fourteen semi-structured interviews were conducted. Verbatim transcriptions were coded against themes extracted from the existing academic literature. Findings indicate that while there are some unique obstacles faced by LGBTQI2+ entrepreneurs, these obstacles were framed by the entrepreneurs as being less important than being treated equally as ‘mainstream’ entrepreneurs. The analysis concludes by examining the importance of informal support networks in supporting the development of LGBTQI2+ entrepreneurs.