• “Some are gay, some are straight, no one actually cares as long as you’re there to play hockey”: Women’s field hockey players’ engagement with sexual identity discourses

      McEvilly, Nollaig; Whitehouse, Lauren E (University of Chester, 2019-02-13)
      This research investigates the discourses that have impacted recreational women’s hockey players’ perspectives and experiences surrounding sexual identity. Furthermore, the participants’ engagement with sexual identity discourses and through what discursive practices and disciplinary techniques sexual identities became dominant or alternative is examined. The experiences of and towards non-heterosexual sportspeople is a developing area of research, though little research focuses on recreational level sport that is not identified as a ‘gay sport space’. This study contributes to sexuality and sport research by investigating a recreational women’s team which is not restricted to the ‘gay sport space’ label to develop understandings of the dynamics and complexities that sexual identity discourses have on both heterosexual and non-heterosexual sportspeople. A poststructural, Foucaultian theoretical framework underpins this study with the utilisation of Foucault’s work on discourses, techniques of power and the technologies of the self. Data is generated from semi-structured interviews with seven hockey players, who discuss their experiences regarding sexual identity at Castle Ladies Hockey Club. By analysing the participants’ talk through discourse analysis, discourses of acceptance and inclusivity towards non-heterosexual identities are found. Firstly, non-heterosexual identities are regarded as ‘normal’, secondly, the focus was on if the player was a good team player rather than sexual identity, and thirdly, there was an increased acceptance of sexual fluidity leading to decreased tolerance towards homophobia. This research highlights that players engage with multiple discourses associated with sexual identity, often complexly. This raises questions surrounding the dominance of heteronormativity, as non-heterosexual identities are not presented as marginal.