Knowing, performing and holding queerness: LGBTIQ+ student experiences in Australian tertiary education

Andrea Waling, James Andrew Roffee

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14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores LGBTIQ+  students’ experiences of knowing, performing and holding queerness in a tertiary educational environment. Through interviews conducted with LGBTIQ+ students at a large Australian metropolitan university, we examine the students’ engagement with other LGBTIQ+ students in the tertiary educational space. Although originally intending to explore LGBTIQ+  students’ experience of violence, harassment and abuse on campus, the study identified a number of themes concerning the normalisation of a set of beliefs, practices, presentations and performances. Drawing on frameworks of hetero/homo and trans-normativity, we explore how LGBTIQ+ students articulated concerns in knowing, performing and holding ‘authentic’ queerness. We find LGBTIQ students experienced barred access to knowledge, hostility and dismissal by other LGBTIQ+  students when they were either perceived as too queer, or not queer enough. Behind these interactions and at the heart of these tensions is the notion of an authentic queer identity in a post-gay era and the continuous challenges all LGBTIQ+  students face within a heteronormative society. New insights into how LGBTIQ+ students negotiate, manage and shape their interactions in a higher educational settings are provided, and the implications for tertiary educational institutions, in particular the need to support a diverse LGBTIQ+ community, are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-318
Number of pages17
JournalSex Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • higher education
  • queer
  • hetero/homo/ trans-normativity
  • identity
  • experiences

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