Embodied, Situated, and Co-Constructed: Young Sexual Minority Men's Experiences of Intersectional Identity and Minority Stress
McConnell EA, Tull P, Birkett M
Intersectionality, minority stress, and social ecological theories have all been important frameworks for understanding mechanisms that create and maintain sexual and gender minority health disparities. In this study, we integrated these frameworks to guide a grounded theory examination of identity-related experiences in specific settings among 33 Black, White, and Latino young sexual minority cisgender men who lived in Chicago. Analyses identified four key categories: Racism Manifests in Context- and Sexual Minority-Specific Ways, Sexual Orientation Can Mean Feeling Safe and Seen or Threatened and Alone, Gender is a Matter of Self-Expression, and Bodies Are Not Always Made to Fit In. Participants reported both identity-based privilege and marginalization as well as unique forms of minority stress at the intersection of specific identities. Across these categories, participants' experiences of their intersecting identities and associated forms of minority stress were embodied in their physical appearance, situated in specific neighborhoods and contexts, and co-constructed through their interpersonal interactions with others. Further, participants' narratives provide powerful insights about the nuanced ways in which young sexual minority men understand and negotiate their lived experiences. Findings highlight how experiences of identity and minority stress are both intersectional and located within specific social ecological contexts, which has important implications for research, clinical practice, and advocacy.