Project Title

Intersectional Sexual Minority Stress and Recognition of Macro-Level Dynamics

Author Names

Kelsey BraunFollow

Authors' Affiliations

Kelsey Braun, M.A., Department of Psychology, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN.

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Psychology

Additional Sponsors

Stacey Williams, Ginette Blackhart, Julia Dodd, Kelly Moore

Type

Oral Competitive

Classification of First Author

Graduate Student-Doctoral

Project's Category

Psychology

Abstract Text

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals, also known as sexual minorities, endure unique and excess stressors due to their stigmatized sexual minority identity. Commonly referred to as minority stress, these stressors may potentially lead to poorer mental health outcomes among sexual minority individuals as compared to their heterosexual counterparts. The manifestation and extent of these stressors depend on the complex relationships between one’s simultaneous intersecting identities (e.g., race, gender, and sexual orientation) and macro-level inequality reinforcement (e.g., structural barriers, societal representation, politics). Inequality at the macro-level creates power and oppression on a larger scale by emphasizing dominant societal norms and belief systems, which, in turn, could have consequences on interpersonal and individual levels. Previous minority stress literature neglects macro-level impact and tends to view sexual minorities as a homogenous group. In an effort to highlight within-group variability of minority stressors and their impact on sexual minorities at the intersection of race and gender, an intersectional lens was applied to assess existing minority stress literature that corresponded with three types of intersectionality (i.e., structural intersectionality, representational intersectionality, political intersectionality). Sexual minority stress research, with emphasis on external stressors aligning with macro-level forces, was selected for review. After organizing the literature by race, gender, and specific sexual minority identity, an intersectional lens was applied to explain the variation of experience based on converging identity intersections of sexual minority individuals. The variation of mental health outcomes was also identified. Findings revealed that literature primarily lined-up with structural intersectionality, followed by representational intersectionality, and, finally, political intersectionality. Ideally, this review would have equally distributed information on all within-group identity combinations, but this review further highlights group underrepresentation in the literature. Consistencies emerged for bisexuals and sexual minorities of color (SMOC) across the structural, representational, and political intersectionality categorizations. Overall, bisexuals and SMOC appear to be at a more significant macro-level disadvantage than gay or lesbian individuals and White sexual minorities. A recognizable pattern occurred based on gender across race/ethnicity in relation to structural and representational intersectionality. The stressors for women and gender minorities occurred in the context of societal power, assumed heterosexuality, and healthcare. By contrast, stressors for men concerned geographic location, employment, workplace, and appearance. While very little minority stress literature corresponded with political intersectionality, this review highlighted a large gap in previous research and what to explore in the future. The findings highlight the similarities and differences encountered by sexual minorities related to experiences, stress, and mental health regarding macro-level impacts. Additionally, gaps in the minority stress literature were also revealed, such as underrepresented identities and political influence. In the future, incorporation of intersectionality that should be applied prior to conducting minority stress research for a more comprehensive understanding.

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Intersectional Sexual Minority Stress and Recognition of Macro-Level Dynamics

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals, also known as sexual minorities, endure unique and excess stressors due to their stigmatized sexual minority identity. Commonly referred to as minority stress, these stressors may potentially lead to poorer mental health outcomes among sexual minority individuals as compared to their heterosexual counterparts. The manifestation and extent of these stressors depend on the complex relationships between one’s simultaneous intersecting identities (e.g., race, gender, and sexual orientation) and macro-level inequality reinforcement (e.g., structural barriers, societal representation, politics). Inequality at the macro-level creates power and oppression on a larger scale by emphasizing dominant societal norms and belief systems, which, in turn, could have consequences on interpersonal and individual levels. Previous minority stress literature neglects macro-level impact and tends to view sexual minorities as a homogenous group. In an effort to highlight within-group variability of minority stressors and their impact on sexual minorities at the intersection of race and gender, an intersectional lens was applied to assess existing minority stress literature that corresponded with three types of intersectionality (i.e., structural intersectionality, representational intersectionality, political intersectionality). Sexual minority stress research, with emphasis on external stressors aligning with macro-level forces, was selected for review. After organizing the literature by race, gender, and specific sexual minority identity, an intersectional lens was applied to explain the variation of experience based on converging identity intersections of sexual minority individuals. The variation of mental health outcomes was also identified. Findings revealed that literature primarily lined-up with structural intersectionality, followed by representational intersectionality, and, finally, political intersectionality. Ideally, this review would have equally distributed information on all within-group identity combinations, but this review further highlights group underrepresentation in the literature. Consistencies emerged for bisexuals and sexual minorities of color (SMOC) across the structural, representational, and political intersectionality categorizations. Overall, bisexuals and SMOC appear to be at a more significant macro-level disadvantage than gay or lesbian individuals and White sexual minorities. A recognizable pattern occurred based on gender across race/ethnicity in relation to structural and representational intersectionality. The stressors for women and gender minorities occurred in the context of societal power, assumed heterosexuality, and healthcare. By contrast, stressors for men concerned geographic location, employment, workplace, and appearance. While very little minority stress literature corresponded with political intersectionality, this review highlighted a large gap in previous research and what to explore in the future. The findings highlight the similarities and differences encountered by sexual minorities related to experiences, stress, and mental health regarding macro-level impacts. Additionally, gaps in the minority stress literature were also revealed, such as underrepresented identities and political influence. In the future, incorporation of intersectionality that should be applied prior to conducting minority stress research for a more comprehensive understanding.

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