Methods: Data and Sample: The data are drawn from a mixed-methods online survey of Black LGBTQ adults ages 18 to 64 (n=345) in the United States, which focused on participants’ belongingness to identity-based minority communities, coping, minority stress, mental health, and well-being. Participants reported a range of ethnic identities and non-mutually exclusive sexual orientations and gender identities: 47% Afro-American/African American, 28% Black; 33% gay, 30% bisexual; 34% men, 24% gender-nonconforming/non-binary.
Measures: Community belongingness was measured as a composite score of three subscales – Black Community Belongingness (α =.828), LGBTQ Community Belongingness (α =.815), and Black LGBTQ Community Belongingness (α =.861) – each with nine items adapted from the Transgender Community Belongingness Scale assessing participants’ connection to these identity-based communities. Coping was measured using the adaptive coping subscale (α =.813) of the Brief COPE instrument, which assesses the frequency of coping responses. Minority stress was measured using the 18-item LGBT People of Color Microaggressions Scale, which assesses the frequency and magnitude of microaggression experiences. Mental health was measured using the 25-item Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25, which assesses symptoms of depression and anxiety within the past two weeks. Well-being was measured using the 14-item Mental Health Continuum—Short Form, which assesses participants’ subjective well-being the past two weeks. Age, gender identity, sexual orientation, income, education, and employment, and student status were included as covariates.
Results: A path analysis revealed that community belongingness positively predicts mental health (B = -.29, SE = .06, p =<.001) and wellbeing (B = .33, SE = .05, p =<.001). Further, a mediated path analysis concluded coping partially mediated the relationship between community belongingness and wellbeing (ab = .05 , SE = .02 , p =.03, 95% CI, -.010 – -.161) but did not mediate the relationship between community belongingness and mental health (ab = .02, SE= .02, p =.25, 95% CI, -.023 – .060). Coping accounted for 6% of the total variance in this model [R2 = .06, SE = .03, p =.078].
Conclusions and Implications: Study findings conclude that in a sample of Black LGBTQ individuals, community belongingness improved mental health and well-being outcomes. Adaptive coping partially explained the connection between community belongingness and well-being, but not community belongingness and mental health. Implications for social work practice and education, and future research, are discussed.