Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Amanda L. Baden

Committee Member

Harriet L. Glosoff

Committee Member

Kathryn Herr

Committee Member

Les Kooyman


The Caribbean holds an international reputation of culturally sanctioned homophobia, which creates implications for the lived experiences of same-gender loving West Indians. However, minimal to no empirical attention has been dedicated to the sexual identity development of members of this population. The goal of this dissertation study was therefore to examine the lived experiences that inform the sexual identity development of Anglophone West Indians. Participants who identified as West Indian and same-gender loving were recruited for this study. A general qualitative study which utilized ethnographic interviewing during two semi-structured interviews was employed. Eleven same-gender loving West Indians from four different Caribbean islands (Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, and Jamaica) participated in this study. Findings suggest that the sexual identity development of same-gender loving West Indians is complex and nuanced, and influenced by their islands’ strongly held colonial values. Participants identified that social institutions coalesce to convey powerful homonegative messages, which informed their challenges with self-acceptance and decisions to conceal their sexual identity. Participants’ self-acceptance, feelings of belonging, and sense of agency in navigating homonegative societies were engendered by experiences with individuals and institutions that affirm their same-gender loving identities. Lastly, participants’ experiences with internalized homophobia and selfdisclosure of their sexual identities are contextual, influenced by feelings of physical and psychological safety. Implications for counselor education, counseling practices and future research have been provided.

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