Self-esteem in sexual and racial-ethnic minority young adults
: a qualitative study

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology


INTRODUCTION: Meyer’s (2003) minority stress theory proposes that sexual minorities (e.g., people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer; LGBQ) experience extra stress as a result of stigma, victimisation, discrimination, and that their increased rates of mental health problems are a consequence of these additional stressors. People with more than one minority characteristic are at risk of being exposed to a higher level of minority stressors. There is evidence that experiences of minority stress are increased in racial-ethnic minorities.

One of the mechanisms by which minority stress may result in more mental health problems is via lower self-esteem. Few studies have explored the impact of multiple types of minority stressors on self-esteem or psychological well-being in young racial-ethnic minority LGBQ people. Given that low self-esteem is a risk factor for mental health problems, young racial-ethnic LGBQ adults with low self-esteem could be an important population to target for preventative interventions.

The aim of the current study was to conduct a qualitative interview study to allow a rich and detailed understanding of self-esteem in young racial-ethnic minority LGBQ adults.

METHOD: Sixteen racial-ethnic minority LGBQ young adults aged 16-24 years took part in a 60-90-minute semi-structured interview. Interviews were completed either face to face or via telephone. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. To ensure that the data was valid and accurately captured the participants’ experiences, a member checking method was also adopted.

RESULTS: The following seven themes were identified in the current study; (1) Not Fitting in Anywhere, (2) Being Unsafe and Fearing Violence, (3) Sexuality openness vs. Concealment, (4) Relationships and Identity: Two Way Processes, (5) Internal Process of Acceptance (i.e., relationship with myself), (6) Feeling Conflicted About the Future, and (7) Creating My Own Community to connect With Others.

DISCUSSION/CONCLUSIONS: The implications for future research and psychological interventions are discussed.
Date of Award1 Mar 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorKatharine Rimes (Supervisor) & Patrick Smith (Supervisor)

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