The Complexity of Family Reactions to Identity among Homeless and College Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Young Adults

The Complexity of Family Reactions to Identity among Homeless and College Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Young Adults

Familial responses to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) young people’s identities range on a spectrum from rejection to acceptance and these reactions strongly impact family relationships and young adult well-being. Less is known, however, about how family members’ reactions may differ based on young people’s contexts of socioeconomic status. Through a qualitative, life course analysis of in-depth interview data from 46 LGBTQ college students and LGBTQ homeless young adults, our study highlights the diverse, contextual nuances of young people’s “linked lives” within their families. We find that the context of socioeconomic status influenced how a young person managed family rejection. Conversely, processes of familial acceptance were also connected to life course transitions that worked in some cases to enhance LGBTQ young adults’ family relationships. Finally, the intricacy of familial reactions to a young person’s LGBTQ identity transcended socioeconomic contexts as many respondents shared similar experiences of rejection and acceptance. These findings have implications for understanding how young people manage family relationships across different contexts of socioeconomic status and how these experiences can shape their life course trajectories. Results from this study can inform LGBTQ youth service providers by tailoring intervention programs that account for contextual social diversity.

JOURNAL: Archives of Sexual Behavior
PAGES: 1-13
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017