Exploring the Identity and Relationship Experiences of Lesbian and Bisexual Women with Intellectual Disabilities

Prof Doc Thesis

Rooney, F. 2018. Exploring the Identity and Relationship Experiences of Lesbian and Bisexual Women with Intellectual Disabilities. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.874x6
AuthorsRooney, F.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Women with intellectual disabilities who are attracted to other women have been largely neglected from research and remain a hidden and marginalised group in society. To date, a small body of literature has explored the experiences of people with intellectual disabilities who are lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB); however, women with intellectual disabilities have featured either in very small numbers, or not at all.
This research sought to address this gap and explore the specific experiences of women with intellectual disabilities who identify as LGB. The research aimed to gain insight into how women with intellectual disabilities described and understood their LGB identity, where they felt included and excluded in their day-to-day lives and if they felt supported in their expression of same-sex attraction.
Six women with intellectual disabilities took part in semi-structured interviews, with four of the women participating in an additional photovoice interview. Data was analysed using thematic analysis, during which, three main themes were identified: ‘non-heterosexual identity as difficult’, ‘the impact of invisibility and difference’ and ‘visibility and a positive sense of self’. Participants described feeling isolated, invisible and excluded due to the stigma of having a disability and a minority sexuality. Indeed, the women described feeling judged and discriminated against because of their sexuality, but isolated and unaccepted by the non-disabled lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The participatory research method of photovoice, however, enabled participants to also present the areas of their lives where they felt loved, accepted and supported.
Implications for future research are considered, as well as a consideration of what support is needed to help this marginalised, oppressed and hidden group in society.

PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.874x6
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Publication dates
PrintMay 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Nov 2019
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