Place Matters: A Qualitative Study of Identites and Experiences of LGBT

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology and Criminal Justice

Date of Award

Summer 2013


Sexual orientation continues to be one of the most talked about subjects in the United States. There are approximately nine million individuals, about 3.6% of the adult population, that identify as LGBT; this is roughly the population of New Jersey (Gates, 2011). Understanding the number of individuals that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is essential so that one can note the importance of research topics unaddressed in this community. Very little research has been done on this population from their perspective. The purpose of this study is to explore the treatment, experiences, and identity formation of LGBT individuals as these are influenced by living in urban areas, urban pockets, or rural areas of the nation. This study aimed to answer three questions. First, in this research I sought to discover the differences in experiences of LGBT individuals in rural, urban pockets, and urban areas. Second, I investigated whether geographical location is a factor in the treatment received by persons who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Finally, if and how does geography (rural, urban pocket, or urban) play a role in the formation of the individual's identity? That is, as the individual is working through their identity formation as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person, can their geographical location be a factor? This study takes a grounded theory approach which allows researchers to begin a study with no theoretical framework so that theory grounded in the data can be developed (Charmaz, 2006). Data analysis consisted of line-by-line, focused, and theoretical coding, memoing, and the constant comparative method. This research not only ascertained the answers to my research questions but also helped to fill the gap in the literature.


Yvonne Villanueva-Russell

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences