PERCEPTION EVOLUTION: A STUDY OF SIX CHINESE INTERNATIONAL MALE STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS TOWARD HOMOSEXUALITY
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Numerous studies suggest that social context and culture significantly impact perceptions of homosexuality. Chinese international students studying in Canada have experienced both homophobic and homo-friendly social contexts and cultures. As a result, the evolution of their perceptions toward homosexuality is interesting to study and may suggest social and educational contexts that promote more positive perceptions of homosexuals. The current research is a narrative study investigating both heterosexual male (N=3) and gay male (N=3, including the researcher) students’ perceptions of homosexuality with a focus on how their perceptions have evolved throughout their time in Canada. Both gay and heterosexual Chinese international students reported a significant evolution in their perceptions towards homosexuality since entering Canada. The evolution of participants’ perceptions towards homosexuality started with an unclear and negative perception of gay identity (i.e., beliefs that gay relationships are not faithful and gay people need to hide their identify and live heterosexual lives). Through their Canadian experiences, gay students were validated in their homosexual identity. An optimistic perception came to shape that they were able to open their identity to others, believing meaningful connections are possible to be built through open interactions. Heterosexual students also began to transition their negative perception of homosexuality to start perceiving gay individuals as normal. This normalization of homosexuality was reinforced through their school education and entire social experience.