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Audrey Zakriski

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The present study sought to assess the experiences of queer college students who figured out that they are a member of the LGBTQ+ community and/or navigated coming out during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic’s toll on society is immeasurable – those who have lived through this time of mass sickness have been subject to disease, loss of income, mental health decline, and political turmoil, among other things (Abbott, 2021) (Falk et al., 2021). While most people’s day-to-day lives were uprooted in some way during this time, marginalized populations have been witnessed to have felt the pandemic’s impact much more than their privileged counterparts. College students who navigated queer identity development and/or coming out during the pandemic faced a very unique set of circumstances during this time, as they were uprooted from their on-campus environment and tasked with figuring out their sexuality and/or gender identity in an environment that was often much more isolated and stressful than the college environment that they had became accustomed to. Interviews were conducted with 9 members of the population of interest, which were then transcribed, analyzed, and coded using thematic analysis. Five major themes emerged from the participants’ experiences, including Transition and Letting Go, Looking Inward, Finding Support and Forging Community, Pandemic Privacy, and Living Truth and Finding Joy. Future studies should examine the importance of online communities in young people’s identity development, as well as variations in experiences depending on the course and/or age at the start of queer identity development during the pandemic.

Available for download on Monday, May 22, 2023



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