Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Chwalisz, Kathleen


There has been a lack of inclusion of LGBTQ people of color within the psychological literature. It is important to attend to a number of diverse demographic variables in order to begin to understand a particular group's experience. The unique intersection of demographic variables or identities shapes a person's experience. Thus, the current study was designed to understand the experiences of those who are not typically represented within the literature. Specifically targeted were individuals who had some African American background and were both sexual and gender minorities. The focus of the current study was on life experiences and strengths due to researchers historically focusing on disadvantages of minority groups. This study was a qualitative investigation conducted in order to identify the strengths and influencing factors of strengths of those with multiple minority statuses. Twelve individuals that were at least in part African American and a sexual and gender (or gender identity) minority were interviewed in person. During the interview process participants discussed some of the challenges they faced, the support systems they had, and the various strengths they demonstrated throughout their lives. A grounded theory approach was utilized to analyze the data. The core phenomenon of this study, referred to as the storyline, revolved around participants' development and utilization of strengths, which included the working through various challenges and accessing support within their contexts. Consistent with past research, the development of strengths was impacted by sociocultural/societal factors, community, religion/spirituality, interpersonal relationships, life events, and intrapersonal concerns. Unique strengths included participants' tendency toward intrapersonal growth, perseverance, connections with others, activation of inner coping strategies, and activism.




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