Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Adult Education and Human Resource Development

First Advisor's Name

Tonette S. Rocco

First Advisor's Committee Title

Professor and Graduate Program Leader (Major Professor)

Second Advisor's Name

Thomas G. Reio

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies

Third Advisor's Name

Hilary Landorf

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Associate Professor

Fourth Advisor's Name

Valentina Bruk-Lee

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Assistant Professor

Fifth Advisor's Name

Asia Eaton

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Assistant Professor


gay, police, law enforcement, officer, disclosure, career development, human resource development, adult education

Date of Defense



The overarching purpose of this collected papers dissertation was to examine the experience of being a gay officer in the masculinized industry of law enforcement (LE). In general, in LE careers, gay men are less accepted, perceived as less capable and less masculine, and typecast or pigeonholed into certain roles. Yet, research on the lived experiences of gay male law enforcement officers (LEOs) is scant. This dissertation unfolded across three studies and four collected papers.

Study #1, a structured literature review of masculinized industries, supported a forward-looking understanding of what makes an industry masculinized, namely that these industries perpetuate implicit division between heterosexual and gay officers as a form of symbolic privilege and homo-resistance. Study #2, an explanatory and instrumental case study of gay former police officer Mike Verdugo, elucidated the possibility that LE, as a masculinized industry, may inhibit the experiences of gay LEOs by placing a greater value on the perspectives and opinions of heterosexual officers than on those of gay LEOs.

Study #3.1, a phenomenology utilizing inductive analysis, articulated five tacit rules of engagement that 12 gay LEOs perceived and followed as a part of a survival consciousness developed to enable them to cope with LE as a heterosexual context that dictates dissimilar experiences across the domains of gender and sexual orientation. Study #3.2, a phenomenology utilizing deductive analysis, was based on Derlega and Grzelak’s (1979) five functions of self-disclosure (expression, self-clarification, social validation, relationship development, and social control). Study #3.2 shed light on some important aspects of the disclosure experiences of the 12 gay LEO participants, among these aspects that coming out is not always an option and that heteronormativity and microagressions limit control over disclosure processes and decisions.

Overall, the insights from the data reported across all four collected papers provide clues for human resource and other professionals employed in law enforcement, who wish to be inclusive of gay officers but are not sure how to be so. The studies each provide hints that further understandings of how gay LEOs experience work as frequent exceptions to male privilege and gendered rules on the job.





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