Master of Social Work
School for Social Work
African American lesbians, Psychology, Blacks, Race identity
The purpose of this research was to explore the applicability of William E. Cross' Black identity development model and Vivienne Cass' model of lesbian/ gay identity formation to the experience of Black lesbians. Through evaluating their applicability the experience of identity integration was addressed in the experience of Black lesbians whose intersections of identity may conflict within a predominately heterosexual Black community and in the visible lesbian community which is often perceived as predominately White.
Through using an interview guide comprised of ten open-ended questions developed by the researcher, sixteen women between the ages of nineteen and forty-nine participated in sixty-minute individual interviews. Questions were based upon themes of assimilation, isolation, experiences with discrimination, family impact/ influence, identity awareness and identity integration, which are found in the models and studies of Cross and Cass.
This study found that though portions of these models are applicable, neither address the process of identity integration or confront the impact of rejection from the primary reference group which may effect the process of identity development. In response to these findings a model was proposed by this researcher which addresses the experience of identity integration.
Moore, Lisa Lynelle, "The applicability of William E. Cross’s model of Black identity development and Vivienne Cass’s model of lesbian/gay identity formation to the experience of Black lesbians" (1998). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.