Beyond the borders: Sexual identity development for lesbian, bisexual, queer international students

Marcie L. Hebert (2003)

Nine international students studying in the U.S. and who self-identified as lesbian, bisexual, or queer (LBQ) were interviewed using qualitative research procedures. The specific issues addressed in this phenomenological study include the influence of specific cultural factors and experiences on sexual identity development, the impact of studying in the U.S. on sexual identity, decisions to stay in the U.S. upon graduation, stressors associated with overlapping identities, and coping strategies for this group. The results provide useful information regarding the unique developmental processes of these international LBQ students, including the significance of migration on sexual identity development, the difficulties associated with immigration issues and lack of awareness by others, and the adaptive factors associated with navigating the challenges of crossing cultural and geographic borders. In some instances the findings of this study supported already existing developmental models, however in many ways these models insufficiently described the experiences of participants in the current study. The results support the need for increased awareness among those who work with international and LBQ students, as well as the need to develop more culturally appropriate and inclusive theories of sexual identity development.