Methods: As part of a larger study, a convenience sample of 189 adolescents was drawn from youth attending an LGBT community center in a large Midwestern city. A sub-sample of key informants (n=16) were recruited for participation in an LHC interview which collected both quantitative and qualitative data. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Quantitative data on the timing and sequence of developmental milestones were analyzed using Stata (version 9). Coding of transcripts was done by two independent coders using inductive content analysis. Coders then met to compare codes until a consensus was reached; then themes and sub-themes were developed independently and compared and contrasted across coders. Results: Study participants ages 15-20 (X¯ =18.4) were predominantly youth of color (75%) and gay identified (56.25%), with four youth (25%) identifying as transgender or questioning their gender identity. Quantitative results indicate wide variation in the developmental pathways of youth in this sample. For example, a majority of the sample reported two (n=8), three (n=3), or four (n=1) distinct self-label phases (e.g., evolving from bisexual to gay to questioning) with a series of disclosure or "coming out" experiences associated with each self-label. Three sets of themes were identified from qualitative data: (1) milestone consequences, (2) resilience, and (3) multiple identity management. Examples of each theme and milestone sub-theme will be discussed as well as the ways that these themes represent the underlying experiences of sexual identity development.
Conclusions and Implications: Study findings suggest important differences in the ways youth understood, experienced, and reported each of the developmental milestones. Research assessing only the first occurrence of a milestone event may not adequately capture the developmental process of sexual minority youth. The LHC method may offer a promising alternative to traditional assessment methods while engaging youth in the data collection process and providing a deeper understanding of the complex, timed, and evolving developmental process of sexual minority youth.