The relationships between ethnic identity, religious identity, and the decision to label oneself as heterosexual, lesbian, gay, or bisexual in a Christian African American sample




Medley, Ticily

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There is evidence that a variety of social pressures often present a challenge to the disclosure of a same-sex sexual orientation in people who have same-sex sexual attractions, desires or behaviors. Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) African Africans live within a unique cultural experience that differs from members of the LGB community who have non-African American ethnic backgrounds (Wilson, 2008). And a tradition of strong religious ties in African Americans may complicate sexual identity development and congruence for those with same-sex attractions, desires or behaviors.

Assuming a sexual identity label that is incongruent with ones attractions, desires or behaviors can lead to increased risks of psychological consequences and sexual health consequences. Therefore, it is important to identify those factors that may play a role in creating incongruence between having same-sex attractions, desires or behaviors and disclosing a lesbian, gay or bisexual identity. This study sought to identify the relationships between the variables of ethnic identity, religious identity and sexual identity labeling in Christian African Americans. An intersectional approach was used because there is evidence that an accurate understanding of oppressed groups can only come from investigating the combined effect of multiple oppressions.

This study used convenience and snowball sampling to access a sample 18 years and older who identified as Christian and African American. The final sample subjected to analysis consisted of 76 participants. A demographic questionnaire and four previously-established and validated measures were administered through mostly online means: the Measure of Sexual Identity Exploration and Commitment (MoSIEC), the Sociocultural Scale (SCS), the Religious Fundamentalism Scale-Revised (RFS-R) and the Cross Racial Identity Scale (CRIS). The following hypotheses were investigated: 1) The greater the same-sex sexual identity, the lower the ethnic identity, 2) The greater the same-sex sexual identity, the lower the fundamental religious views, and 3) The greater the same-sex sexual identity, the lower the religiosity. Hypotheses number two and three were partially confirmed in that higher levels of sexual identity Exploration were negatively correlated with lower levels of Religious Fundamentalism and Religiosity. Implications for theory, research and practice are noted.



African American studies, Black studies, GLBT studies, Counseling psychology, Social sciences, Fundamentalism, Sexual identity