Methods: A secondary, grounded theory analysis was conducted on transcripts from 36 life history interviews looking at minority stress among SMAs (M age = 16.26 years-old). Maximum variation sampling was used to gather a sample with diverse racial and sexual identities. A team of three researchers completed the analysis. Members of the team open coded all transcripts and met weekly to discuss, refine, and ascribe properties to emergent codes using memos written throughout the coding process. Axial coding began after 33% of the transcripts were open coded. During this stage, codes were collapsed into categories and subcategories, given definitions, and relationships between categories were shaped into a basic framework. For selective coding, the framework was modified to position shame and pride as the superordinate categories, which all conditions and processes centered around; this framework was then tested against the data and further refined. A narrative was then built from the resultant framework, which provided a working theory of shame and pride among sexual minority adolescents.
Results: The model suggests shame and pride emerge through an interaction between social context, life experiences of minority stress and resilience, and dimensions of self-concept (internalized homonegativity, grit, and sincerity). Shame occurred when participants believed their identity was worthless alongside overwhelming and painful feelings that encouraged them to hide their identities from others. Pride occurred when participants believed their identity was valuable alongside feelings of zestful pleasure that encouraged participants to connect to supportive people and resources. Participants managed shame and pride through emotion work. They would reduce the visibility of their identities to appease the social context and avoid feelings of shame. By contrast, participants would increase the visibility of their identities to enrich the social context and achieve feelings of pride. These emotions also had implications for health behaviors. Participants used self-harm and substance use to manage shame while they would connect to community resources and supportive people to manage pride.
Conclusion/Implications: Shame and pride are influential to identity development and well-being for sexual minority adolescents. Future research should quantitatively test the relationships between components of the grounded theory model. Furthermore, social work practitioners should work to help their SMA clients reduce feelings of shame and increase those of pride. Policy-makers should ensure social contexts have sexual minority-inclusive legislation and policies to support development and well-being.