Anna Fry presents on her research We’re here, we’re queer, we don’t drink beer”: The intersections of gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, religiosity and non-heterosexual British South Asian women and the implications for mental health care.
Relatively recently there has been a significant increase in literature on non-heterosexual women and also a significant increase in the study of non-heterosexual identities and the prevalence of mental health difficulties within this minority group. However, the study of British South Asian non-heterosexual women is noticeably absent in the areas of lived experience and mental health and well-being. Therefore, the current research seeks to study how participants understand the experience of being non-heterosexual in the United Kingdom and to explore their mental health and wellbeing.
Design/Methodology: A mixture of purposive and snowball sampling was used to recruit participants who met the criteria for the study. Using Critical Narrative Analysis, the life-world of self-identified nonheterosexual women is explored in terms of lived experience, mental health and resilience. Their lives produce unique intersections between gender, sexuality, culture, spirituality and ethnicity in an environment of religiously and culturally endorsed homophobia, preventing freedom to explore and express their sexuality openly. The study explores the difficulties faced by participants due to their invisibility and the impact of this on their mental health and well-being. The study further considers how resilience is demonstrated despite multiple stresses and adversity and how individual and community resilience can be understood, established and maintained within this minority group in order to develop and sustain wellbeing. Minority Stress theory (Meyer, 2003) and Hatzenbuehler’s (2009) Psychological Mediation framework will be applied to the analysis in order to build an understanding of risk and resilience factors.
Research Limitations: A relatively small number of participants took part in the main study. To my knowledge, this is the first study of its type to be carried out in the United Kingdom; it is envisaged that this ground breaking project will facilitate further research in this area. Subjectivity has been maintained through researcher reflexivity.
Conclusions/Implications: Preliminary results indicate a complex model of intersecting identities which impact on coping which is further influenced by both community and individual resilience which affects help seeking behaviours and therefore mental health outcomes
Anna Fry is a PhD Researcher and Counsellor at the University of Huddersfield
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