Loyola University Chicago

The Graduate School


Clinical Psychology

Social support and community connectedness (e.g., “chosen families,” mentorship) has long been observed as a key strength within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer (LGBTQ+) community. Historically, these networks of support have played a critical role in buffering against overt discrimination as well as minority stress (Meyer, 2003). Over the last two decades, there have been significant changes in United States policy impacting this community including the passage of marriage equality and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” (H.R., 2965, 2010; Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015). Although there is still significant need for policy changes to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people, particular for trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) individuals, there have been notable gains (American Civil Liberties Union, 2021). Large scale policy changes are both a result of and a cause of favorable, more tolerant shifts in societal views on LGBTQ+ people. However, the impact on essential components of LGBTQ+ community connectedness remains an area of study. Taking a counter storytelling framework, which centers the voices of those who experience marginalization in conversation with dominant narratives about their lives, my dissertation will explore the impact of these recent policy changes on community building and identity development among LGBTQ+ people (Wagaman et al., 2018). Participants will be recruited from the Chicagoland area to capture insight from an intergenerational sample LGBTQ+ people on their experiences navigating social and policy changes in the past two decades with a particular focus on community connectedness and mentorship within LGBTQ+ spaces.

My research assistant will engage in an experiential introduction to qualitative methodology with a particular emphasis on a counter storytelling framework. They will experience contributing to the literature review process including critical analysis of current literature, identifying gaps in current research, and synthesizing findings into a research paper. Finally, they will contribute to the dissertation process through participant recruitment, qualitative interview development, focus group administration, and IRB proposal drafting.