Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

Terrell L. Strayhorn

Committee Members

Norma Mertz, Allison Anders, Vincent Anfara


This dissertation includes three articles that explore the relationship between gay identity and the college environment. The college environment has been shown to affect students’ attitudes, beliefs, and personal development in various ways, including aspects of individuals’ identity and attitudes towards social and political issues in society. D’Augelli’s (1994) lesbian-gay-bisexual (LGB) identity development framework provides both a priori knowledge of issues associated with gay identity and a lens through which findings are analyzed in each of the articles included in this dissertation. The first article examines the relationship between first-year college students’ personal characteristics and their attitudes towards same-sex relationships. Given the importance of peers as “valued others” to gay individuals, as well as the role that students play in establishing campus climate, the first article has implications for how the college environment is experienced by gay individuals. The second article explores the identity development of Black gay male college students. This article attempts to test the applicability of D’Augelli’s framework for racial minorities and for contemporary college students who also identify as gay. The third article included in this dissertation focuses on the representations of gay male college students in the online community called Facebook. Since representations are expressions of identity, this article has significance for understanding how gay male college students internalize information about their gay identity and selectively represent that identity to others. Considered together, these articles hold significance for researchers who study LGB individuals in higher education and administrators who work with LGB individuals on college campuses. Additionally, a revised theoretical framework that accounts for the findings discussed within these three articles is presented in the final chapter.

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