Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 1195–1207 | Cite as

The Complexity of Family Reactions to Identity among Homeless and College Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Young Adults

  • Rachel M. SchmitzEmail author
  • Kimberly A. Tyler
Original Paper


Familial responses to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) young people’s identities range on a spectrum from rejection to acceptance and these reactions strongly impact family relationships and young adult well-being. Less is known, however, about how family members’ reactions may differ based on young people’s contexts of socioeconomic status. Through a qualitative, life course analysis of in-depth interview data from 46 LGBTQ college students and LGBTQ homeless young adults, our study highlights the diverse, contextual nuances of young people’s “linked lives” within their families. We find that the context of socioeconomic status influenced how a young person managed family rejection. Conversely, processes of familial acceptance were also connected to life course transitions that worked in some cases to enhance LGBTQ young adults’ family relationships. Finally, the intricacy of familial reactions to a young person’s LGBTQ identity transcended socioeconomic contexts as many respondents shared similar experiences of rejection and acceptance. These findings have implications for understanding how young people manage family relationships across different contexts of socioeconomic status and how these experiences can shape their life course trajectories. Results from this study can inform LGBTQ youth service providers by tailoring intervention programs that account for contextual social diversity.


LGBTQ young adults Gender identity Sexuality Family relationships Sexual orientation 



This research was funded by the Joyce Hertzler Sociological Research Fund sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Sociology Department.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of Texas Rio Grande ValleyEdinburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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