Sex Roles

, Volume 68, Issue 11–12, pp 660–674

An Intersectional Analysis of Gender and Race for Sexual Minorities Who Engage in Gay and Lesbian Rights Activism

Original Article


Social movements aimed at increasing rights for sexual minorities have mobilized in the United States and throughout the world, yet studies on why gays and lesbians from a variety of racial backgrounds join and participate in these collective actions are rare. To address this gap, this study used a survey to identify the key factors that inspired four types of gay and lesbian rights activism: voting, petition signing, protesting, and civil disobedience. After conducting an intersectional analysis on 285 self-identified gays and lesbians from throughout the U.S. of how gender, race, and framing factors impacted these political behaviors, this study concluded that the act of publicly revealing one’s sexual identity and experiencing heterosexist discrimination generally increased activism on the behalf of gay and lesbian rights (regardless of gender or race). However, race and gender differences were noted, as White lesbians were less likely to protest and vote than lesbians of color. For gay men, race was less crucial to activism but experiencing workplace discrimination and embracing an activist identity were especially relevant in predicting activist behaviors.


Sexual minorities Gay Lesbian Activism Intersectionality Political participation Civil disobedience 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Social Work and Criminology 322 Rader HallMorehead State UniversityMoreheadUSA
  2. 2.Women and Gender StudiesArizona State University at the West campusGlendaleUSA

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