Experiences affecting African-American gay men’s college persistence and success
Hill-Silcott, Vivia Elair
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The lived experiences of African-American gay men in U.S. institutions of higher education can vary. By understanding how they integrate academically and socially into the programs specific to their needs. This study explored the experiences affecting African-American gay men’s college persistence and success. Tinto’s (1993) model of individual departure from institutions of higher education provided the theoretical framework to understand the influences that contribute to the persistence and college success of African-American gay men. Eight students who attended the same institution and enrolled in their junior and senior year participated in this phenomenological study. Data collection occurred over a span of six-months. Data were then analyzed and clustered to reveal how participants made meaning and described their perceived experiences on campus. Findings from this study affirmed that deliberate faculty and staff actions, and peer groups support, as well select co-curricular activities and the participants’ ability to remain resilient and cope with adversities assist them to integrate, persist, and succeed in college. Faculty, staff, and peers who affirm their gay identity helped participants to remain persistent. Participants mainly chose to become involved with co-curricular activities that promoted diversity and social justice advocacy. They also learned coping strategies to remain resilient and focused on their academic pursuit. African-American gay men recount hostility within their on-campus experiences. These unfavorable environments if not addressed appropriately, over time contribute to isolation and eventually an increased in attrition of African-American men. This study extends research on African-American gay men enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education. The implications from this study can be used to further explore the quality interactions for racial and sexual minority students to improve campus climates and advance persistence and college success.