The purpose of this paper is to lay a conceptual foundation for understanding and studying lesbians in sport. To begin to understand lesbians in sport, it is necessary to critically examine the socialization process. Lesbians are socialized within a homonegative and heterosexist society, where they learn homonegative attitudes. The sport environment is even more hostile toward lesbians, thus escalating the negative impact of homonegativism experienced by lesbians in sport compared to nonsport lesbians. These reactions to homonegativism will be manifested through individuals’ mental states (e.g., low self-esteem, low confidence, low satisfaction, high stress) or behaviors (e.g., poor sport performance, substance abuse). However, through exposure to positive social support and successful role models, a positive lesbian identity will be developed. The goals of this framework are to consolidate previous empirical literature about lesbians and apply it to sport and to encourage further conceptualization about lesbians in sport.
Vikki Krane is with the School of HPER at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403.