Same-Sex Relationships Among African American Women Previously in Heterosexual Relationships

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Publication Date

Summer 7-30-2016


In the United States, same-sex relationships have been a popular topic for the past decade, largely in relation to marriage. This phenomenological study examined the life experiences of African American women currently in same-sex relationships but previously in heterosexual relationships. Exploring the participants’ experiences to the fullest extent was important to understand each person’s journey through the stigma and biases that she faced when making life choices. Given the rarity of literature on the subject matter, professional practitioners and clinicians may not know how to assist these women. Queer and social identity theories were applied in exploring the directed research question, which focused on avenues the participants consciously chose to take in order to pursue the lifestyles they wanted to live. Data were collected through semistructured interviews with 10 African American women aged 40 and older who were in same-sex relationships at the time of the study but had previously been in heterosexual relationships, and who lived in the 5 boroughs of New York City. The study recruitment method was snowball sampling, and numerous interview questions were used to capture the essence of each woman’s experiences. Inductive analyses revealed a positive and productive social change for practitioners, clinicians, educators, and researchers concerning African American women in same-sex relationships who were previously in heterosexual relationships. Psychologists and researchers who work directly with African American women in same-sex relationships might benefit from these findings.

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