To simply be : thriving as a Black queer/same-gender-loving young adult
- Thriving is a topic of great interest across disciplines and has thus been studied in myriad ways. Researchers have examined psychological thriving and physiological thriving. Some have likened it to flourishing or well-being or resilience, while others have held it distinct. There is no single accepted model. Among the small, yet burgeoning, literature that centers Black LGBTQ+/SGL youth, little appears to examine states of self-actualization, flourishing, or other concepts of what could be termed "thriving." Instead, there is, understandably, keen attention to identifying and treating barriers and hardships. But this vantage point offers only a partial opportunity. Focusing too narrowly on problems can get in the way of building something visionary and liberatory beyond what we already know, something that needs to be, and is already being, shaped by young people themselves. This study set out to expand our scholarly imaginations. For the participants, hardship, though real, is only part of the lived experience. These young people cultivate joy and they find ways to thrive. This study set out to find out how. Over the course of two years, I investigated what thriving means to twelve emerging adults (age 18-30) who identify as LGBTQ+/SGL within the U.S.-based African diaspora; how and under what circumstances they experience thriving; and how learning about this might inform scholarly and practical possibilities for serving this population. Data were collected using two semi-structured one-on-one interviews with each participant, then analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), scaffolded by Queer of Color Critique and various social, developmental, and positive psychology frameworks. The study revealed five thriving dimensions: community, selfhood, sufficiency, pleasure, and relief. Taken together, they surfaced an interactive dimension: with elements of all five dimensions at play, the participant could "simply be, " that is to say that their ability to exist and be fully expressed was, at least momentarily, uncontested. This required an inward-facing ability to know and value oneself, which called for the development of a resistant identity - one that repositioned them as central and treasured, not marginal. It typically happened in the company of chosen family, in spaces that felt safe, with the resources of space and time (and sometimes money) available, where the outer world's stigma and stress were impotent, and there was joy. Thriving, as a state, was temporary. Participants could feel they were flourishing in some dimensions more strongly than others. They moved through periods of not-thriving, of course, as well. The participants shared various strategies and practices they enacted to maintain or reclaim thriving as they lived their daily lives. Finally, simply being asked to consider the question of their thriving was a new and welcome experience. It appeared to reshape their ideas about themselves and their futures as the study progressed. Locating this kind of hopefulness is as important as understanding how large social forces mediate against it. It invites us to consider what constitutes life success, particularly as it is defined and understood by people who are asked to "not be" when offered access to the dominant frameworks for becoming in this world. Some implications, limitations, and recommendations for further inquiry are discussed in the paper.
|Type of resource
|electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
|1 online resource.
|Degree committee member
|Degree committee member
|Stanford University, Graduate School of Education.
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Graduate School of Education.
|Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2018.
- © 2018 by Kia Janessa Darling-Hammond
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-ND).
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