There are complex social, political, economic and cultural barriers to the development of a healthy Black lesbian identity. Until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) considered homosexuality a mental illness. Although the APA later declared that homophobia, not homosexuality, is the abnormal condition, the earlier view has not disappeared. Research has shown that African Americans possess disproportionate negative attitudes towards homosexuals; and that the educated population within Black America tends to be more homophobic than their white counterparts. For Black lesbians, acceptance in the Black community may occur at the price of concealing their identity as a lesbian; and acceptance within the white lesbian community, may raise the risk of exposure to racism, or may pressure Black lesbians to minimize their own African American cultural experience. Without the support of family and community, it is difficult for individuals to develop a healthy Black lesbian identity.

Black lesbians face daily barriers to a better quality of life because of their sexual orientation, their race, and their gender. These barriers are deeply rooted in public policies that encourage homophobia, economic and educational injustices, and other forms of social discrimination. Research has shown that people whom society discriminate against are less likely to receive information adapted to their needs, less likely to have access to a range of critical health and social services, and less likely to be able to organize as a community. Black lesbians suffer the triple minority status of being female, black, and homosexual. Studies have shown that Black lesbians experience less physical health and less sense of overall well?being than their white lesbian counterparts and their black gay brothers. Genderism, racism, and heterosexism all create chronic life stress and negative life events for Black lesbians, and leave them with diminished internal, relational/social, and societal resources to use for coping.

Though Black lesbians suffer the triple minority status of being female, black, and homosexual, Black lesbians are largely invisible in African American, homosexual, and gender research that is used to establish priorities in program funding. As a result, many foundations and governments sponsors do not understand issues specific to Black lesbians, and therefore, Black lesbians remain largely under served by traditional Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender advocacy organizations and national and state government initiatives addressing populations of African descent.

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