Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Cooperating University

University of Kentucky


Social Work

Degree Program

Social Work, PhD

Committee Chair

Lawson, Thomas

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Adams, Tomarra

Committee Member

Adams, Tomarra

Committee Member

Bell, Shannon

Committee Member

Perry, Armon

Author's Keywords

photovoice; black; gay; critical consciousness; college; student


The intersection of multiple oppressed identities is characterized by the compounded effects of victimization, intimidation and continued marginalization by dominant culture groups in society. Despite a growing body of knowledge about the individual experiences of racial and sexual minorities, there remains a lack of understanding of the unique life experiences of individuals with intersecting oppressed identities, specifically Black gay youth. Failure or inability to recognize, understand and take action in response to the needs of Black gay youth in college, perpetuates a culture of oppression that compromises the physical and mental well-being, and the academic success of these students. Engaging Black gay college students in a Photovoice project affords said students the opportunity to document their everyday experiences in photographic images, tell the stories of their lives, and identify the strengths and needs of their community for campus policy makers, educators, practitioners and researchers. While it represents a trusted approach in understanding the lived experiences of marginalized and oppressed people, Wang and Burris’ (1994) participatory action research method Photovoice is underutilized as a means of understanding the lived experience of Black gay college students. This dissertation study utilized a modified Photovoice project as well as other qualitative and quantitative research methods to explore the lived experience of Black gay college students, the meaning they attribute to said experiences and subsequent role performance. The students in this study demonstrated a keen awareness of the complexity and compounded effects of their identities and resilience in the face of harassment and repeated microaggressions while identifying and employing multiple pathways to personal, academic and professional success.