Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Whitney McIntyre Miller

Second Advisor

Penny Bryan

Third Advisor

Lori Garkovich


This study used Arts-based research and Narrative Inquiry to explore the rural-urban transition experiences of three high-achieving millennial gay men. Using Clandinin’s (2013) narrative commonplaces of temporality, sociality, and place as frames for understanding each participant’s individual story, the study utilized The Listening Guide (Gilligan, 2015) to illuminate participants’ experiences related to identity development, sense of community, queer migration, and authentic leadership development. In addition to the individual narratives, story threads or themes present in one, two, or all three narrative portraits were analyzed and discussed. The data also included found poetry and original poems written in the style of George Ella Lyon’s (1999) I Am From poem.

The study examined the authentic leadership development of the participants and advanced arts-based research through a discussion of the personal, practical, and social justifications of the methodology broadly, and this study in particular. The significance of this study is directly related to the social justifications of theoretical contributions and a social justice orientation. By engaging in the research, the participants told their stories in this way for the first time and gave voice to their past experiences and illuminated the implications of these experiences on their current roles as junior faculty members and administrators in higher education.

The narrative portraits and poetry serve as counter-narratives to those of white, straight men which are most often privileged in the academy and beyond. This study demonstrates the usefulness and rigor of using narrative methods to gather and share stories about 1) transitioning between rural and urban places, 2) the experiences of a subset of the millennial cohort and life-course development, 3) and the development of authentic leadership. Each participant expressed a passion and purpose for more socially just classrooms, campus environments, and community spaces, and each participant incorporated this purpose in his teaching, research, and practice in his own way. As more millennial gay men assume leadership positions in universities, board rooms, and city halls, ABR creates the potential capacity for a new generation of public leaderships to usher in societal shifts reflecting a changing America.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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