I have received a request for volunteers to assist as subjects in a research project. I was disappointed; there are no exotic drugs, no catheters, no insane experimental surgeries that will turn you into a super-being with surprising powers beyond all mortal ken, but the fellow did manage to spell my name correctly, so it must be on the up-and-up. Contact Ben Myers (hey! That’s how he got the spelling correct — he cheated!) if you’re interested.
I am an assistant professor of communication studies at USC Upstate. I am in the process of starting a research project and I was wondering if I could ask you for a favor. My research project is centered around atheist/agnostic coming out experiences. For my data, I am planning on collecting stories from those who have “come out” to religious family and friends. I am an ally (and a big fan of your blog). I am interested in this project because of my own very difficult “coming out” experience with my family.
I am planning on doing a rhetorical analysis of common themes across coming out stories. I have included my research plan if you would like more details. Also, I have already received IRB approval for the study.
I will conduct and record interviews over skype. The interviews are open-ended, so I have a few basic questions but I am primarily interested in just letting people tell their stories.
To start the project, I need to find atheists/agnostics who would be willing to share their “coming out” stories. This is where I would like to ask you a favor. I am looking not just for atheist/agnostics, but for atheists/agnostics who have specific “coming out” stories. I am sure there are lots of readers of Pharyngula who would fit the criteria. Would you be willing to dedicate a post to helping me find participants? Perhaps you could post my email and a short blurb about what the research project is about. Participants could then contact me directly.
Also, no need to worry about the project. Any work that results from these interviews will be presented with the ethos of helping readers understand the “coming out” process and how difficult it is. I am an ally, and a proud “out” atheist myself.
Thank you very much for your consideration. And please do not hesitate to ask for additional information if you feel it necessary. And keep on fighting the good fight.
W. Benjamin Myers, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Speech
Department of Fine Arts and Communication Studies
Here’s the short research plan.