Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Education

Department

Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Sharon Rostosky

Abstract

Belonging is a basic and fundamental human need (Baumeister, & Leary, 1995) that is associated with psychosocial health (Cohen, 2004). Unfortunately, community belonging is a challenge for those with a bisexual identity. Binegativity, minority stress, and the invisibility of bisexual-identities may interfere with attempts to develop a sense of community belonging (Bradford, 2004). Little systematic research has examined bisexual-identified people’s perceptions and experiences of belonging to a community. This project addressed the question, “What are bisexual individuals’ experiences of community belonging/social exclusion?” Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sample of 12 bisexual-identified persons. Interview transcripts were analyzed using a constructivist grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2006). Findings indicated that bisexual-identified persons encountered stigma and at times concealed their sexuality in order to create community belonging. However, risking authenticity, rather than concealing identity, seemed to help participants deal with stigma and develop more meaningful community belonging. Bisexual-identified persons who risk disclosing their identity and develop a sense of authenticity may increase their opportunities for community belonging. These findings are discussed in relation to their implications for counseling bisexual-identified persons and educating the communities in which they live.

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