This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Surviving Stigmatizing Sociocultural Environments: A Critical Narrative Inquiry into LGBTQ+ POC Experiences of Meaning-Making




White, Dwayne

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


The purpose of this critical narrative study was to examine the lived experiences and meaning-making structures of LGBTQ+ POC as they negotiate and conceal their stigmatized social identities within sociocultural contexts. Existing literature suggests that LGBTQ+ POC may have cultural resources that positively impact their meaning-making structures, which may buffer against minority stress and the adverse effects of concealing or negotiating their stigmatized social identities. However, this body of literature is non-existent in current counseling and counselor education discourse. This study aimed to fill this research gap and provide counselors and counselor educators with knowledge to help collaborate and develop interventions to address LGBTQ+ POC layered and contextual concerns. Thus, critical narrative inquiry was implemented to explore the lived experiences and meaning-making structures of ten LGBTQ+ POC, engaging in negotiation and concealment strategies to manage social stigma. Two 45–60-minute semi-structured interviews were used to generate data for this investigation. Self-authorship Theory and Intersectionality were used to situate emerging data. Through a narrative thematic analysis, six themes materialized. The findings illustrated how participants experienced social stigma and discrimination and used stigma management strategies to adapt to their external environments. While they employed these strategies, they found affirming spaces and crafted an internally driven meaning-making structure. This structure helped participants develop personal meaning out of themselves and others as they negotiated and concealed their stigmatized social identities, aiding in dismantling internalized oppression. Thus, participants narratives underscored how they are resilient and resist subjugation through meaning-making and embodied cultural strengths. Implications for counseling practice and counselor education, as well as recommendations for future research, were discussed.