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Differences between gay and non-gay people is not about sex according to Massey University’s School of Social Work Professor Mark Henrickson, who will propose in a lecture next month that it is more about the ways we understand the world and decide what is true.

The lecture, Understanding Gay, to be held on the Auckland campus on November 5, will explore what this difference means, covering the implications for educators, health and social service providers, parents and family members, as well as gender and sexually diverse and trans people.

Professor Henrickson believes a gay person’s worldview allows them to experience themselves as different.


“Epistemologies, or worldviews, are the ways people understand the world and decide what is true,” Professor Henrickson said.

Some cultural epistemologies value collective consensus based on experience and community wisdom, and some value critical thinking based on formal education.

“Gender and sexually diverse persons, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and gender fluid persons, experience themselves as fundamentally different in a *cisgender *heteronormative world.

“They develop radically subjective or highly individualistic epistemologies, which are profoundly shaped by their experiences of being different. They decide what is true through their own subjective lens of difference,” he said.

Professor Mark Henrickson
Professor Mark Henrickson

The lecture which is free to the public is an important opportunity for all of the community, not just the LGBTI community.

“Understanding these differences is important not only for people who work in social and health work, but also people who have gender and sexually diverse family members.

“It may be particularly relevant for people of faith, given the great amount of attention the issues of sexuality and marriage equality has had in the churches over the past many years. It is quite likely that these communities are not even participating in the same conversations,” Professor Henrickson said.

Event details:
Understanding gay – free public lecture
7.00 – 8.00pm
November 5
SNW 100, Sir Neil Waters Lecture Theatre Building, Gate 1, Albany Expressway, Massey University Auckland campus.

Register for the event here.

Last Updated on Oct 12, 2018

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