TitleAn exploration of the impact of social institutions and interpersonal connections on the sexual expression and identity of dually attracted and bisexual women
NameKowal, Sarah (author), Gantwerk, Louis (chair), Williams, Nina (internal member), Rutgers University, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology,
DescriptionResearch about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations reveals a dearth of empirical knowledge about bisexual women. This study explores the experiences of eleven dually attracted/bisexual women between the ages of 25 and 42, with particular emphasis on communities and social institutions to which they belong. Although research demonstrates that community support plays a critical role in minority
mental health, current data reveals that bisexuals experience significant degrees of biphobia and marginalization within LGBT and other communities. This qualitative study focuses on the thoughts and feelings that bisexual/dually attracted women have about
their sexuality. Each 1.5 hour long interview probed about how participants’ thoughts and feelings were influenced by experiences in schools, workplaces, religious settings, LGBT groups and families of origin. The semi-structured interview tool was designed to 1) gain a deeper understanding of the overall experience of dual attraction/bisexuality in adult women 2) identify themes that illustrate the core factors that influence how bisexual women choose to identify and participate in their social contexts. The results illustrate that, largely due to perceived social stigma within both heterosexual and homosexual communities, the choice to utilize the term bisexual is highly complicated and leads some
women to refuse the identity altogether. Data also illustrates the complex ways in which families, religions and other identity groups influence how participants name their sexual identity. Interestingly, bisexual celebrities emerged as an unexpected and influential
“community” for some subjects in this sample. In sum, the core overarching themes that emerged from interview data were 1) Naming (or choosing not-to name) sexual identity; 2) Coming out; 3) Religion and family – acceptance, rejection and the negotiation of conflicting values and beliefs; 4) Workplace and school experiences; 5) Dual identity and other social minority experiences. The results of this study can be utilized to guide future research as well as inform clinicians and service providers who aim to gain a more nuanced understanding of the unique experiences and perspectives of this population.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Sarah Kowal
CollectionGraduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.