Latino/a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer youth: A phenomenological study of risk and resilience

Jane Elizabeth Berkman, Fordham University


This study explores ways that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) Latino/a youth, ages 18 to 24, navigate the intersection of these salient identities and utilize strengths, strategies, and resources, together known as resilience, to overcome tough times. Using a phenomenological and constructivist framework, 10 participants were interviewed using an in-depth, semi-structured protocol. Qualitative analysis yielded nine themes, divided into two models. One model describes aspects of LGBQ identity that create friction for Latino/a youth, which they must reconcile in order to integrate the two identities. These themes were (a) Strong Family; (b) LGBQ Identity Disrupts Family Dynamic, with subthemes of Coming Out to Parents/Family Threatens Family Harmony and Contradicting Family Harmony is Not Acceptable; (c) Machismo/Patriarchy; (d) Heteronormativity; and (e) Religion. A model of resilience was developed and shows how LGBQ Latino/a youth access resilience to overcome tough times. Themes in this model included (a) Positive Coping, with subthemes of Coping Skills/Techniques, Social Justice/Activism, and Spirituality; (b) Staying Safe/Policing LGBQ Identity, with subthemes of Policing Identity and Financial Independence; (c) Social Support, with subthemes of Family, Friends, and Clubs/Organizations; and (d) Pride in Culture/Identity. Participants described their unique challenges in navigating LGBQ identity within Latino/a culture, and highlighted the importance of family in both their identity and in coping. Even participants who had not yet come out to their families due to perceived rejection of LGBQ identity experienced significant strength from their family, their Latino/a identity, and the legacy of overcoming challenges as a member of a marginalized group.

Subject Area

Social psychology|GLBT Studies|Latin American Studies

Recommended Citation

Berkman, Jane Elizabeth, "Latino/a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer youth: A phenomenological study of risk and resilience" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10145786.