Understanding gay men’s identities | Invitation to participate in research

I am Edgar Rodríguez, I have identified myself as a gay man for several years. During this time I have been interested in understanding what ‘being gay’ actually means to gay men.

Erotic and romantic relationships have particularly attracted my attention because they seem to be central to the understanding of gay identity. This observation made me want to explore how gay men talk about their experiences of sexual and romantic intimacy, and try to understand how through them they (we) make sense of their (our) identity.

Perhaps you are interested in these topics too, perhaps you would like to talk about them too. If that is the case I want to invite you to take part in my research.

If you are interested in participating, please take a few minutes to read the following information before making up your mind about whether or not you would like to help me with my study.

'The Kiss of Life' by Rocco Morabito
‘The Kiss of Life’ by Rocco Morabito

What is the purpose of the study?

This is a research project which will help me to complete my PhD in Counselling and Psychotherapy at the University of Edinburgh.

The main goal of my research is to get an understanding of how gay men get a sense of their identity through listening to their stories of romantic and erotic relationships.

I want to interview men who identify themselves as gay and discuss with them their experiences of sex and love and the meanings, thoughts, and feelings derived from those experiences.

Who can participate?

If you identify yourself as a gay man, are travelling to or based in the UK, are at least 16 years old, are able to communicate in English, have experienced sexual desire towards men, and have participated in or longed for a romantic relationship,  I invite you to participate in this study.

What will I do if I take part?

If you are happy to contribute to my research I will ask you to meet for a one to one interview session which I will audio-record.

Although in this interview there are no pre-established questions and I expect the conversation to develop naturally with your input on topics of your erotic and romantic relationships, some examples of the themes we may talk about are (but not limited or compelled to):

  • People you have been in love with.
  • Circumstances in which you feel sexual desire.
  • Relationships you have been involved in.
  • Your thoughts when you start to have a crush on someone.
  • The meanings that being single or partnered has for you.
  • Thoughts about your identity coming from sexual experiences you have had or fantasized.
  • Experiences of sex or relationships that have gone well or not so well.
  • Important episodes of your love and/or sex life.
  • The meanings that being gay has for you.
  • The role sex and relationships play in your sense of yourself as a gay man.

The interview is expected to last approximately 90 minutes but of course this will depend on you, on the time available, and on the conversation itself. Some interviews can be shorter whereas others can extend a bit.

We will make arrangements to meet in a venue of your preference as long as it is private to facilitate communication. When we meet I will ask you to read and sign a consent form and return it to me. In that form I will expand on your rights as a participant and the details of the research.

If you do not wish to participate you do not have to do anything in response to this request.

What are the possible risks of taking part?

Whilst there are not significant risks attached to this research, sometimes a research interview about intimate subjects like these can bring up unexpected feelings, or the interview can leave you realizing that you need to talk more about something. If this happens to you, or if you need emotional support, I will share some details of available sources which offer telephone and face to face consultation, and other relevant services.

What are the possible benefits of taking part?

Whilst there may be no personal benefits to your participation in this study, by helping me with this interview, the information you provide can contribute to develop knowledge about gay men’s identities and their (our) relationships.

Although your participation will not be remunerated, some participants find the opportunity of conversing about their experiences rewarding.

What will happen to the results of the research study?

Firstly, what you have to say about your erotic and romantic relationships could make an important contribution to my research!

I expect to publish the results of this study on my PhD thesis, I also expect to publish them in articles in academic journals, and presentations at academic conferences. If you decide to take part and want to know about the findings, I will make a summary of the preliminary findings available to you. We will talk about the time to get that preliminary analysis when we meet.

Will my taking part in the study be kept confidential?

As I will ask you to talk about intimate topics of romance and sex, you may be concerned about the confidentiality of your personal details.

I will keep confidential all potentially identifying information provided by you by anonymizing those aspects, e.g. no personal details relating to who you are, where you live or work will be disclosed to anyone.

I will keep all the information you provide on a password-protected computer and secure cloud storage. I will be the only person having access to the audio recordings. My supervisors will have access to the transcriptions of our interview but under no circumstances I will disclose responses that make you identifiable.

When I finish my thesis and publish articles, I will only make public information emanating from the interview in such a way that no participant will be identified.

Who is organising the research?

I am conducting this research as my PhD project and I am supervised by Seamus Prior and Jonathan Wyatt. I am undertaking my research at the School of Health in Social Science at the University of Edinburgh with funding from the CONACYT (Mexican Council for Science and Technology).

How can I take part in this research?

If you feel you would like to be part of this research or you would like to know more, please email me and I will get back to you shortly (contacting me to ask questions does not obligate you to participate in the study).

Edgar Rodríguez Sánchez | PhD student

Counselling and Psychotherapy, University of Edinburgh

Email: e.rodriguez-3@sms.ed.ac.uk

If you have any questions about the validity of this study, you might want to contact my supervisors:

Seamus Prior:


Jonathan Wyatt:


If you know someone who would be able to participate, please feel free to share this information with them. Thanks and I hope to hear from you!


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