Although Black gay and bisexual men have written eloquently about the intersections of race, gender, and sexual identity in anthologies such as Brother to Brother and In the Life, empirical studies of intersectionality with men, and Black gay and bisexual men in particular are rare. This qualitative study examined descriptions and experiences of intersectionality in individual interviews with 12 U.S. Black self-identified gay (n = 9) and bisexual (n =3) men in Washington, DC. Participants ranged in age from 21 and 44 (M = 36.33) and were predominantly highly educated and middle income. Research questions were: (1) How do participants describe and experience intersections of race, gender, and sexual identity?; (2) How do social processes shape their social identities?; (3) What are their challenges due to intersections of race, gender, and sexual identity?; and (4) What are the perceived benefits of these intersections? Analyses highlighted four key themes: (1) explicit and implicit descriptions of intersectionality; (2) the primacy of identities as Black and/or Black men first; (3) challenges such as negative stereotypes, racial microaggressions in mainstream and White LGB communities, heterosexism in Black communities, and gender role pressures to act “masculine”; and (4) perceived benefits such as psychological growth, liberation from traditional gender role or heteronormative expectations, and the freedom that being outsiders or “never being comfortable” confers in terms of exploring new opportunities and experiences. These findings imply that intersectionality can be expanded to incorporate the strengths/assets of intersectional identities in addition to oppression based on interlocking social identities.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 4, 2012
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