Published In

Journal of Lgbt Youth

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Publication Date



Pedagogy -- methods


Research on LGBTQ + youth often portrays them as either as victims whose lives are defined by violence and discrimination, or as inspirational success stories whose ability to thrive is attributable to external interventions and policies. Drawing on theories of situated agency, minority stress, and queer monstrosity, this participatory qualitative interview project with LGBTQ + young adults illustrates instead how LGBTQ + youth actively shape their coming-of-age experiences and develop unique strategies to survive and thrive in the spaces they occupy. Rather than wholly traumatic or ecstatic, most participants reported mixed experiences with varying support from the people and spaces they encountered. Youth had to regularly engage in the labor of evaluating and responding to this mixed support and mistreatment in everyday situations and relationships. Based on these evaluations participants reported self-regulating their sexual and gender identities and behaviors, shifting tactics between spaces, seeking out and creating queer spaces, embracing their own difference, and engaging in direct resistance. Implications for research and practice suggest that refusing to center deficit-based narratives and recognizing the full range of young people’s queer expressions will produce a more accurate picture of LGBTQ + coming of age and the supports that allow more youth to thrive.


This is the author’s version of a work. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of LGBT Youth, 1-21.



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