Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership


Lesbians and gays are one of the most ostracized and marginalized groups in the U.S. (Rankin, Weber, Blumenfeld, & Frazer, 2010). With a limited number of out, gay leader to study, minimal research has been conducted on how gays have navigated their way into visible leadership positions (Fassinger, Shullman, & Stevenson, 2010; Snyder, 2006). The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the lived experience of how out, White gay males have successfully navigated the presidential search process. The study utilizes the framework of social dominance theory, queer theory, and co-cultural theory in exploring the historical and current environment for lesbian and gays within the U.S. This national study utilized a qualitative, phenomenological approach. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 participants. Study findings included: (a) most gay men have a non-traditional career pathway to the presidency; (b) mentoring and networking plays a significant role for gay men in the pursuit of a career as a college president; (c) while gay men are resilient in overcoming the dominant heteronormative culture impacts, dominant culture beliefs continue to play a significant role in the search process; (d) gay men believe that being out during the search process speaks to their integrity and character; (e) gay men strategically utilize two communication approaches when communicating with the dominant culture in an effort to assess if the heteronormative environment will be affirming; and, (f) in deciding on institutional fit, gay men seek to synergize their skill set and values with that of the hiring institution.

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