174264 Intersectionality-related stress and beyond: The mental health trials and tribulations of being Black lesbian, gay, and bisexual

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 10:30 AM

Lisa Bowleg, PhD , School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
Objectives: Using qualitative research with two different samples of Black lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people as a foundation, this presentation will highlight Black LGBs' experiences of stress due to the intersection of racism, heterosexism, sexism and classism. Transcending a jeopardy-solely focus, the presentation will also focus on the coping strategies that Black LGBs use to buffer against intersectionality-related stress.

Background: Historically, Black people LGBs have been invisible from much of the mental health literature. Yet, well documented in the empirical literature are these facts: racial discrimination, sex and gender discrimination, and heterosexism have deleterious health outcomes for people who are ethnic minority or, women, or LGBs. These findings raise the logical question of what are the mental health challenges of people, such as Black LGBs, for whom all of these forms of social inequality intersect hypothetically or in reality?

Methods: Individual in-depth interviews were conducted with Black LGB-identified adults between the ages of 20 and 68 (N = 51) in separate studies in Los Angeles, CA, and Washington, DC.

Results: There is vast diversity in Black LGBs' perceptions of intersectionality-related stress, with many citing the intersection of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism as key stressors, while for others racism is the foremost mundane and significant stressor. Most interviewees cited social support and/or acceptance of their sexual identity as buffers to intersectionality-related stress.

Lessons: Understanding Black LGBs' experiences of intersectionality-related stress and resiliency despite this stress are an essential starting point for mental health providers who work with Black LGBs.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the mental health challenges and resiliency of Black LGBs who experience stress due to the intersection of social inequality such as racism, heterosexism, and sexism. 2. Identify the effective strategies that Black LGBs use to cope with intersectionality-related stress. 3. Use study findings to discuss the theoretical and applied implications of developing mental health services for Black LGBs.

Keywords: African American, Gay

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Principal Investigator who designed and conducted the research on which the abstract is based.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.