Exploring Intersections of Identity and Service Provision Among LGBTQ Young Adults: A Participatory Action Research Approach
This study explores the ways in which LGBTQ young adults describe the aspects of their identities, and how those identities shape their service needs and experiences. A participatory action research component was explored as a research and service approach that is sensitive to LGBTQ young people living at the intersections of multiple identities. Although it is understood that LGBTQ young people come from a variety of backgrounds, research is limited in its understanding and exploration of how aspects of identity, such as race and class, influence the lives and service needs of this population. The data was collected through an initial set of interviews with fifteen LGBTQ-identified young adults ages 18 to 24. The interviewees were recruited from an LGBTQ youth-serving organization using a purposive sampling approach to reflect racial/ethnic and gender identity diversity. Following the interviews, eight of the participants engaged as co-researchers on a participatory action research (PAR) team for sixteen weeks. The process of this team's work was assessed through a reflective analysis to identify factors that impacted the participants' lives. Analysis of the interviews identified key themes related to identity among the LGBTQ young people. The interviewees experienced a multiplicity of identities that were both socially and individually constructed. These identities were impacted by their immediate and social environments. The young people also identified ways that they used their identities to influence their environments and enhance their own resilience. The service experiences and needs of the LGBTQ young people in this study were directly influenced by their multiple identities. Implications for intersectional approaches to serving this population are explored. Analysis of the PAR process identified four areas in which the young people were most impacted through their work and interactions with one another: relationships, communication, participation, and inclusion. Implications for research and service approaches with LGBTQ young people are discussed.