LGBTQ+ Young Adults on the Street and on Campus: Identity as a Product of Social Context

Rachel M. Schmitz, Kimberly A. Tyler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and other sexual and gender minority (LGBTQ+) young adults face unique identity-related experiences based on their immersion in distinctive social contexts. The predominant framework of performing separate analyses on samples of LGBTQ+ young people by their primary social status obfuscates more holistic understandings of the role of social context. Using 46 in-depth interviews with LGBTQ+ college students and LGBTQ+ homeless young adults, we ask: How are LGBTQ+ young adults’ capacities for “doing” their gender and sexual identities shaped by their distinctive social contexts? In developing their identities, both groups of LGBTQ+ young adults navigated their social environments to seek out resources and support. Most college students described their educational contexts as conducive to helping them develop their identities, or “undo” rigid norms of gender and sexuality. Homeless young adults’ social environments, meanwhile, imposed complex barriers to self-expression that reinforced more normative expectations of “doing” gender and sexual identities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-223
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 28 2018


  • College
  • LGBTQ+ young adults
  • gender
  • homelessness
  • identity
  • sexuality
  • social context

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • General Psychology


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