For Black LGBQ+ Americans, intersectional experiences can hurt -- or help, YSPH study finds

October 30, 2020

For Black LGBQ+ Americans, Intersectional Experiences Can Hurt -- Or Help, YSPH Study FindsUsing a new method for quantifying intersectional experiences, a new Yale School of Public Health study finds that Black LGBQ+ Americans tend to feel better about themselves after encountering events that affirm their identity.

In the study, which was recently published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, researchers asked 131 Black members of the LGBQ+ community to chronicle their daily experiences for a week and record any times in which their racial and sexual identity was simultaneously challenged or supported -- an intersectional event. What they found was surprising: 31% of all days featured at least one positive experience, and 11% had at least one negative experience. Both types of events were related to changes in psychological well-being, the data showed.

The findings are a major step forward in figuring out how to reduce stigma and improve mental health for Black LGBQ+ Americans, who often struggle to find acceptance, said Skyler Jackson, the study's lead author and an associate research scientist. Jackson is also affiliated with the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA) at Yale.

"I can speak for myself as a Black, gay/queer-identifying person that certainly these identities bring challenges and hardships," Jackson said. "But they also bring opportunities for joy, and culture, connection, and so many other wonderful things."

Unlike in other studies, the researchers looked for experiences that were in some way intersectional, like a enjoying a gathering of Black LGBQ+ people or encountering a racist stereotype from an LGBQ+ community member. Jackson's team also asked participants to not only quantify their intersectional experiences but also describe them every day for a week.

That way, Jackson said, the researchers could get a better understanding of what these events look like and how they shape perceptions of daily life.

The study cannot confirm that these experiences cause shifts in well-being, Jackson added. But the findings do shed light on potential factors: The data suggests that negative intersectional experiences could exacerbate feelings of identity conflict, which can lead to psychological distress among Black LGBQ+ people.

Jackson plans to use his new method to study other subgroups that face complex experiences of stigma, including both multiracial people and gender non-binary individuals. The methodology will be further outlined in an article that will be published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology early next year.

"You feel that these identities -- and the powerful experiences they lead to -- are much more alive when you measure them within a person's everyday life," he said.

The study's findings also have key implications for public health. Participants' responses suggest that spaces that cater to -- and represent -- members of the Black LGBQ+ community can lift their spirits and contribute to their well-being.

"There are these moments where people from marginalized groups have these sort of micro-liberations -- they get free," Jackson said. "Not despite their identities, but because of them."

Yale School of Public Health

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to