Theses Doctoral

Out of sight, out of mind: Exploring the mental health of Asian American lesbians

Corpus, Melissa J.

Lesbians of color exemplify persons with multiple, marginalized identities. Scholars theorize that they are susceptible to racist, heterosexist, and sexist discrimination. Given the multiple pathways of discrimination, scholars postulate that lesbians of color are susceptible to adverse mental health outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorders, and decreased life satisfaction (Williams and Williams-Morris, 2000). However, most literature on lesbians of color and mental health is primarily theoretical or conceptual while empirical evidence is limited. Further, the scant literature on lesbians of color that exists primarily explore Black and/or Latina lesbians, while very little is known about the mental health of Asian American and Native American lesbians. The purpose of my research study was to explore how Asian American lesbians' mental health is affected by the convergence of multiple societal oppressions such as racism, heterosexism, and sexism (N=167). Additionally, I explored how both enculturation and unsupportive social interactions among Asian American lesbians moderates the relationship between mental health and perceived experiences with racism, heterosexism, sexism. Perceived experiences with racist, heterosexist, and sexist events were each measured by Asian American Racism-Related Stress Inventory (AARRSI; Liang, Li, and Kim, 2004), Heterosexist Harassment, Rejection, and Discrimination Scale (HHRD; Szymanski, 2006), and Schedule of Sexist Events (SSE; Klonoff and Landrine, 1995), respectively. To measure each moderator, level of enculturation and unsupportive social interactions, the study utilized Asian Values Scale (AVS; Kim et al., 1999) and Unsupportive Social Interactions Inventory (USII; Ingram, Betz, et al., 2001), respectively. Lastly, mental health outcomes were measured by Mental Health Inventory (MHI; Veit and Ware, 1983). Correlation analysis and multiple regression analyses evaluated the relationship among these variables. Results indicated that heterosexist events uniquely predicted mental health, unsupportive social interactions were predictive of mental health, and unsupportive social interactions significantly moderated the relationship between perceived experiences with racism and mental health. Limitations and implications future research and clinical practice are discussed.


  • thumnail for Corpus_columbia_0054D_10888.pdf Corpus_columbia_0054D_10888.pdf application/pdf 769 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Miville, Marie L.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 8, 2012