Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Thomasina Hassler, Ph.D., College of Education


Thomasina Hassler, Ph.D., Chairperson

Phyllis Balcerzak, Ph.D.

Kimberly Welch, Ph.D.

Chamara Kwakye, Ph.D.


To set the tone for this qualitative study and the enriched data discovered, bell hooks (2001) says, “if we love each other and embrace our diverse sexualities, we create an environment where there is no sexuality that cannot speak its name” (p. 207). This critical narrative analysis portrays the reasons why BlackQueer adults choose to mentor and embolden BlackQueer youth. Life History methodology brought their experiences to life. Lesbian, Gay, and Gender Nonconforming (LGGNC) youth learn to conceal certain attributes associated with being Queer. They are compelled to consider and give context to their family, K-12 school personnel, and community leaders using eyes, that do not embrace their truth. Striving to attain acceptance is a matter of significance. LGGNC individuals are often subjected to a greater level of surveillance, and Black bodies have been specifically targeted (Browne, 2015; Hartman, 2019).

BlackQueer adults and youth seem to be responsible for finding their own community to belong to, while having to experience self-love and navigate relationships alone until they find other people in their community. They also have early responsibilities that other youth may not have in order to negotiate in their quest for acceptance. This study engaged Black Feminist Thought theory (e.g. Hill-Collins, 2001), to explain what it means to be Black and Queer in regards to race and gender, and the Black Queer Identity Matrix, (e.g. Howard, 2014), to give insight on sexuality and what it means to be Black and Queer in this society. Using this combination allowed me to speak and interact with foundational research, while sharing the life histories of my participants. Relearning boundaries and seeking approval from themselves instead of outside influence is what my participants experienced. I illuminate gaps in present research, while allowing the voices of BlackQueer youth to stand tall in their identities.

Available for download on Saturday, May 04, 2024