Online Program

“It's like holding a Two-Edged Sword”: Being Middle Eastern and Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual in Southeast Michigan

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 10:43 a.m. - 10:56 a.m.

Emily Pingel, MPH, Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities (SexLab), University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Triana Kazaleh Sirdenis, MPH, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities, Ann Arbor, MI
Stephen Sullivan, MPH, Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Chris Ramazotti, Al Gamea, Ferndale, MI
José A. Bauermeister, MPH, PhD, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Background:  Access to healthcare among LGBTQ individuals may be hindered by stigma and discrimination. These experiences are often compounded for LGBTQ people of color, who may face additional barriers related to their race/ethnicity. The unique experiences of Middle Eastern (ME) LGB individuals, in both healthcare and community settings, remain largely unexamined. Southeast Michigan is home to a substantial proportion of Arab Americans in the United States. Therefore, we explored how LGB people of ME descent conceptualize their multiple identities and how these processes may shape their health.

Methods:  We formed an academic-community partnership with Al Gamea, a community-based organization that caters to LGB people of ME descent.  To understand the needs and experiences of LGB people of ME descent, we conducted focus groups and in-depth interviews with community members. Guided by a phenomenological framework, we analyzed these data through open and focus coding and conducted a thematic analysis to identify patterns related to identity, community, gender roles, and healthcare access.

Results: Participants’ narrated how their sexual identity was as central to their self-conception as their ethnic and religious identities. However, they acknowledged the challenges of aligning these identities when interacting with their families, peers, and community. Furthermore, participants acknowledged having to make decisions regarding the compartmentalization or integration of their identities in healthcare settings, particularly those that serve the ME population in the area.

Conclusions:  Based on our analyses, we discuss the implications of public health practice involving LGB individuals of ME descent and explore possibilities for further research.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe 3 benefits of collaborating with a community-based organization in trying to reach marginalized populations. Discuss important considerations in implementing LGBTQ-inclusive practice among individuals of Middle Eastern descent. Formulate one policy change that would make health care provision with LGBTQ people of Middle Eastern descent safer and more effective.

Keyword(s): Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT), Cultural Competency

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have four years of experience with qualitative research and expertise in sexual and gender minority health. I currently manage a participatory research project on LGBTQ health.
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.