Date of Award

Spring 3-2-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Douglas DeVore, Ed. D.

Second Advisor

Marilou Ryder, Ed. D.

Third Advisor

Lisa Simon, Ed. D.


Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative ethnographic case study was to explore and discover the perceptions of California gay male leaders in high-level leadership positions, specifically in regard to the types of support they received and the types of barriers they encountered along their leadership journey to attain a high-level leadership position.

Findings: Data collection and analysis resulted in six major findings in the ascent or journey to leadership of the 12 selected participants: (a) self-acceptance and personal determination, (b) networking support, (c) education and leadership skills, (d) family and friends, (e) internalized homophobia, and (f) social prejudice and stereotypes. Imposed-by-default societal norms foster internalized homophobia in gay men. The conclusions indicated that most participants described having a feeling of low self-worth because they were gay, especially at the beginning of their professional careers. Gay men who are accepting of themselves and comfortable with their lifestyle are more likely to gain access to leadership roles. Being honest with themselves and comfortable with their lifestyle was a significant motivator for all gay males in this research study. As a part of the journey to high-level leadership roles, each of the participants felt a deep sense of personal efficacy, or self-confidence, that great heights could be achieved once they did not have to focus on hiding their sexual preference. All participants stated that they were more successful after they acknowledged their homosexuality.

Methodology: This case study research design utilized qualitative data to analyze the research questions regarding supports and barriers openly gay male leaders experienced to attain high-level leadership positions. Qualitative data were obtained by conducting 10-question interviews with a select group of 12 gay male leaders who are in executive leadership roles in California organizations to elicit themes, patterns, and trends in their lived experiences.