Research shows that the involvement of the LGBT in activism influences their social development significantly (Bilodeau 29, Komives et al. 593). Active involvement influences their lives, career aspirations, and social justice perspectives. Additionally, LGBTs who openly engage in activism related to their identity often reinforce their involvement in work or personal life. According to Renn and Bilodeau (342), queer activism influences political aspirations and community service, particularly when connected to peace activism, homophobia, or violence avoidance.
Research on the experiences of the LGBT over recent years offers in-depth knowledge of the identities, experiences, and development of this identity-based group (Marine 26). The author analyzes the extensive body of research showing that involvement in queer activism creates positive outcomes for social development. The intersection of these two fields provides knowledge on these identity-based groups (Ropers-Huilman, Carwile & Barnett 295; Renn 311). Therefore, this raises the question of how to merge the sexual orientation identities with social development in understanding the LGBT community.
The following question will guide this research.
How does queer activism influence the social development of LGBTs?
The exploratory nature of this study will guide the sampling and data collection. I selected a purposeful sample of 15 LGBT activists from three Midwestern activist groups. I engaged the interviewees in identifying the impact of queer activism on the social development of LGBTs. Purposeful sampling provided a rich data set for evaluating the activists’ views on the research question.
Sites and participants
I invited the activists from three rights groups to take part in the study by mail. Some of the participants held leadership roles while others were non-positional leaders. Furthermore, the participants included six men, seven women, and 2 transgender activists.
Data collection and Analysis
The open-ended interviews focused on the activists’ involvement in the community, lasting between 45 to 75 minutes. The interview transcripts comprised data that I used in this article. I later coded the transcripts into various themes and developed codes relating to queer activists’ impact on the social development of the LGBT. I then consulted a colleague with extensive experience in qualitative research to assess the credibility of the coding process, the analysis, and the conclusion. I contend that the nature of my methodology supports the results’ credibility. Moreover, I fully neutralized any personal biases that could have occurred in the study.
Despite this study design being sound, it attracts a few limitations. First, a larger sample could give insight into the impacts of queer activism on the social development of LGBTs from other institutions or regions. A longitudinal design could also be valuable in providing in-depth developmental analysis. Readers should bear these limitations in mind while going through the results.
Results and discussion
From the data analysis, identities in the systems of involvement, the involvement-identification cycle, and reasons for joining activism were the key themes that I identified. This provided rich insight on queer activism’s influence on the social development of the LGBT.
Identities in the systems of involvement
From the results, there exists a common pattern in the social development of LGBTs. In addition, LGBTs who join or form activist groups, later become active members, leaders, or activists. According to Penedo (238), this promotes LGBTs knowledge of their queer identity, by giving them a platform for exploring social justice issues that may affect their social development. The participants also acknowledged that their involvement in queer activism influenced their careers and life aspirations. Most notable were friends, parents, employers, and adult professional’s contribution to their development.
Reasons for joining activism
The participants stated that various circumstances prompted their entry into LGBT activism. These included the search for social networks, response to critical incidents, search for political voices, or the urge to explore their identities. Leachman (1668) supports this sentiment, stating that peer activists and advisers who mentor most LGBTs influence their social development. From the study, the participants noted that they either started activist groups or joined existing ones. Those who sought to explore their identities through activism felt validated by their participation. This indicates that involvement in queer activism supports social and identity development for those who are coming out and the experienced.
The involvement-identification cycle
The increased involvement of LGBTs in queer activism facilitated their public identification as queers (Renn 311). From the study, one transgender participant noted that her participation in activism increased her visibility. This prompted her to identify with her transgender identity strongly, facilitating her continued involvement in the identification cycle.
From the study, the pattern of progressing from queer activism involvement to increased identification as LGBT was consistent across all the participants. The peer sponsors and adult mentors facilitated the social development of LGBTs with their identities. This paper’s findings are significant to LGBT researchers and activists. Therefore, understanding LGBTs involvement with queer activism and its varying impacts on social development is an important stepping-stone to understanding issues related to LGBTs. The relationship between identity and involvement links to increased visibility and a sense of responsibility for activism. Further, this study highlights the significant role of sponsors and mentors, especially peers. Therefore, these findings carry the implication of educating advisers on the potential role of guiding and mentoring LGBTs on social development.
Sample Interview questions
- What is your identity?
- What kinds of LGBT activism do you engaged in?
- What non-LGBT activities do you take part in?
- How has your engagement with queer activists influenced your social development?
- How has your involvement with activists increased the promotion of healthy LGBT identities?
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Komives, Susan, Owen, Julie, LOngerbeam, Susan, Mainella, Felicia, and Osteen, Laura. Developing a leadership identity: A grounded theory. Journal of College Student Development 46(2005): 593-611. Print.
Leachman, Gwendolyn. From Protest to Perry: How Litigation Shaped the LGBT Movement’s Agenda. Law Review 45.5(2014), 1667-1750. Print.
Marine, Susan. Stonewall’s Legacy: Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Students in Higher Education: AEHE. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. 24-37. Print.
Penedo, Susana. Queer Politics in Spain: There is Life after Same-Sex Marriage Legislation. Jindal Global Law Review 4.1(2012): 238-263. Print.
Renn, Kristen, and Bilodeau, Brent. Leadership identity development among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender student leaders. NASPA Journal 42.5(2005): 342-367. Print.
Renn, Kristen. LGBT Student Leaders and Queer Activists: Identities of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. Project Muse Scholarly Journals Online 48.3(2007): 311-330. Print.
Ropers-Huilman, Becky, Carwile, Laura, and Barnett, Kathy. Student activists’ characterizations of administrators in higher education: Perceptions of power in “the system.” Review of Higher Education 28.3(2005): 295-312. Print.