First Advisor

Dalton Miller-Jones

Date of Publication

Fall 8-23-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Interdisciplinary Studies


Interdisciplinary Studies




Black gay men, African American gay men, African American young men, Identity (Psychology), Gay culture



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 137 pages)


During adolescence, self-identified gay black males may develop their identities differently than their gay white male counterparts. This may be attributed to the reconciliation of stressors when developing gay, black, and male identities within certain environmental contexts. To investigate this, twelve qualitative interviews were conducted of gay black males from which developmental themes were extracted. While many of the developmental processes are similar to their white homosexual counterparts, some differences were noted regarding racism, objectification by the white gay community, and use of the internet to develop particular identities. A new theory using dynamic systems theory that includes many complexities of identity development is proposed. A hybrid story-like model was developed to illustrate the roles of lenses and buffers as they pertain to how an identity functions. Lenses allow a person to see their way through a variety of experiences; buffers contain coping mechanisms and skills to alleviate tension from negative experiences. Future research should include other minority groups and women for a more complete picture of identity development processes. This would allow better tools to be built that can be utilized by intervention designers.


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