Thursday, December 18, 2014

Queer Is the New Black? Not So Much: Racial Disparities in Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination


Those who identify as racial1-3 or sexual minorities4 experience discrimination in myriad contexts. However, there is a lack of research that examines the intersection of race and sexual orientation as it relates to experiences of discrimination. Given that individuals experience life through a unified lens of both privileged and marginalized identities,5 it is important to examine if and how racial identity impacts the discrimination experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals. In this study, the authors use intersectionality theory to answer three questions regarding housing and employment discrimination:
  1. What is the prevalence of anti-LGBTQ discrimination for a sample in the Western Plains area?
  2. What differences exist between the rates of discrimination for LGBTQ People of Color (POC) and White LGBTQ people?
  3. What are the nuanced differences among POC?


Authors conducted secondary data analysis of anonymous needs assessment data collected in 2010 through One Colorado, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization. An online survey, available in both English and Spanish, was advertised via social media, One Colorado’s e-mail list, and affiliated organizations. The final sample consisted of 3,854 LGBTQ adults:
  • Sexual Orientation: Gay, 53.4%; Lesbian, 30.0%; Bisexual, 8.6%; Queer, 7.6%; Heterosexual, 0.4%
  • Gender Identity: Male, 56.1%; Female, 40.0%; Transgender, 3.9%
  • Race: White, 82.1%; People of Color, 17.9% (Hispanic, 9.0%; Bi/Multiracial; 3.3%; African-American/Black, 3.1%; Asian, 1.7%; American Indian, 0.7%)
The majority of participants (71.2%) were between ages 25 and 54. Data on education and relationship status were also collected. These demographics are available in the full-text article.


Overall, White LGBTQ participants were significantly less likely to experience discrimination than LGBTQ People of Color. Regarding housing, 9.4% of White individuals and 19.8% of People of Color reported discrimination. Regarding employment, 37.7% of White individuals and 42.8% of People of Color reported discrimination. In examining the nuanced differences among the racial groups included in this study, Hispanic and Bi/Multiracial respondents in particular were significantly more likely to report both housing and workplace discrimination than other racial groups.


The authors argue that, based on the results of this study, it is important that there continue to be an intersectional approach taken to discrimination work. Several tentative recommendations are made:
  • There must be more research on why certain marginalized racial groups report higher rates of anti-LGBTQ discrimination than other marginalized racial groups.
  • Federal policies should be implemented to protect individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
  • Housing and labor authorities should provide training for employees tasked with handling anti-LGBTQ discrimination claims.

For More Information

For more on the sample demographics or specific results, refer to the full article in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services or contact the corresponding author, Darren L. Whitfield at Click the links below to learn more about the authors’ work.


Whitfield, D. L., Walls, N. E., Langenderfer-Magruder, L., & Clark, B. (2014). Queer Is the New Black? Not So Much: Racial Disparities in Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 26(4), 426-440. doi: 10.1080/10538720.2014.955556


1 Kessler, R., Mickelson, K., & Williams, D. (1999). The prevalence, distribution, and mental health correlates of perceived discrimination in the United States. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 40, 208-230.

2 Williams, D. (1999). Race, socioeconomic status, and health: The added effects of racism and discrimination. Annual of the New Your Academy of Science, 896, 173-188.

3 Williams, D., Neighbors, H., & Jackson, J. (2003). Racial/ethnic discrimination and health: Findings from community studies. American Journal of Public Health, 93, 200-208.

4 Herek, G. (2007). Confronting sexual stigma and prejudice: Theory and practice. Journal of Social Issues, 63, 905-925.

5 Warner, L., & Shields, S. (2013). The intersections of sexuality, gender, and race: Identity research at the crossroads. Sex Roles, 68, 803-810.