• Lesbian and Bisexual Identity in Multiple Ecological Contexts

      Belmonte, Kimberly (2011-09-12)
      Although sexual minority individuals are embedded in a series of complex systems—legal, political, cultural, and institutional—little is known about how these diverse contexts affect sexual identity and well-being. Using Bronfenbrenner‘s Ecological Systems Model (1979) as a theoretical framework, the purpose of this study was to better understand how proximal (e.g.,,interpersonal relationships) and distal (e.g.,, policies) environments influence the development of homosexual and bisexual women living in the United States. In this mixed methods study, 367 lesbian and 495 bisexual women completed self-report questionnaires that measured: 1) feelings about sexual orientation; 2) degree of openness; 3) quality of life; and 4) biculturalism. Analyses revealed that lesbian women fared better than bisexual women on all measures. A thematic analysis of open-ended questions identified emergent themes that centered on experiences of inclusion (e.g.,, acceptance) and exclusion (e.g., legalized homophobia). The discussion focuses on similarities and differences within and between groups.