Qualitative research on gay experiences in South African society is slowly gaining momentum. However, it is accompanied by serious ethical implications and positionality dilemmas that should be considered in carrying out such research. Black gay researchers’ discussions of reflexivity in research that focuses on gay identities and realities in South Africa remain minimal. This paper focuses on a first-time gay male researcher’s experience of being reflexive in a qualitative feminist study on the realities of Black gay men in mining workplaces. It highlights the importance of reflexivity and how it is enacted by a gay researcher who studies a gay population that they are in some way a part of, especially in South Africa, where sexuality is still a contentious topic. It is easy for a researcher to alter participants’ narratives when they are a part of the population because they already have certain perceptions based on their personal experiences. This paper posits that the sexual and other intersecting identities and personal experiences of a researcher matter in research on vulnerable sexual minorities and should be a basis for critical reflections in qualitative feminist research.


gay research, reflexivity, qualitative research methodology, research ethics, feminist epistemology

Author Bio(s)

Tshepo Bethuel Maake is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Johannesburg, where he completed both his Bachelor of Arts Honors and Master of Arts with distinctions. He is a lecturer at the University of South Africa’s Department of Sociology. His research interests are heteronormativity, masculinities, sexualities, LGBTIQ+ identities, intersectionality, and male-dominated workplaces. Please direct correspondence to tbmaake@gmail.com.


I wish to acknowledge and thank Dr Letitia Smuts, who reviewed earlier versions of this paper and Prof. Pragna Rugunanan for the continued support in my academic work. A special thank you to the reviewers and editors for the constructive feedback and guidance.

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