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Muhlenberg College

Publication Date

Spring 2022

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health and Social Policy


Acceptance of LGBTQ people is an important and encouraging area of social progress. As attitudes change in South Africa and across the world, it is important to understand the drivers of change and how that change is experienced within communities. Using both semi-structured interviews (n=19) and collection of survey data (n=30), this study interrogated the factors that formed and changed views on gay and lesbian people among respondents from a community in Cato Manor, a peri-urban area near Durban, South Africa. About half of all participants reported an opinion change. Interview participants who experienced opinion change most commonly reported the change to be triggered by having close personal gay or lesbian contacts. A culture of silence, traditional gender norms, and religion were found to form baseline opinions within the community, contributing a variety of ideas promoting both tolerance and intolerance. Knowledge of legal protections for gay and lesbian people and consistent exposure to information about LGBTQ people through television and LGBTQ community presence was found to normalize the existence of gay and lesbian people.


African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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