Abstract: (Withdrawn) Voices of the Valley: LGBTQ+ Latinx and Hmong Experiences with COVID-19, Belonging, and Community (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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(Withdrawn) Voices of the Valley: LGBTQ+ Latinx and Hmong Experiences with COVID-19, Belonging, and Community

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Valley of the Sun A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Marcus Crawford, PHD, Assistant Professor, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA
Katherine Fobear, PhD, Assistant Professor, California State University, Fresno
Background and Purpose: Undocumented and/or First-Generation LGBTQ+ Latinx and Hmong communities share important intersections as both racial and immigrant minorities as well as sexual and gender minorities. While their histories of migration and settlement in the United States are different, their experiences reveal the barriers they encounter as queer persons of color from within the larger LGBTQ+ community, their own cultural community, and from dominant society. Their experiences also reveal how they navigate multiple spaces and create belonging and community within these divides. This research focused on the experiences of undocumented and/or first-generation LGBTQ+ Hmong and Latinx adults living in the Central Valley.

While research on Latinx and Hmong LGBTQ+ communities in the United States has grown within the past years, most research has focused on populations in large metropolitan areas. This research project is one of the first dedicated to focusing on the unique experiences of undocumented and first-generation LGBTQ Latinx and Hmong population in the Central Valley. The research focused on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on undocumented and first-generation LGBTQ Latinx and Hmong individuals. Initial research shows that LGBTQ individuals have disproportionately been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, evidence shows that BIPOC individuals are severely impacted by economic, social, and public health disparities that have become exacerbated by Covid-19. The intersections of race, gender, and sexuality regarding Covid-19 have yet to be fully documented. This project provides crucial evidence to understanding the realities of queer immigrants during the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on specific marginalized communities in Fresno and the Central Valley.

This research documented the impact of Covid-19 on racial sexual and gender minorities, with a focus on undocumented and/or first-generation LGBTQ+ Hmong and Latinx. We sought to understand the intersectional experiences of being an undocumented and/or first-generation LGBTQ+ Hmong or Latinx by exploring how they created feelings of belonging, a sense of community, and navigated multiple communities. We investigated social and institutional barriers affecting undocumented/first-generation LGBTQ+ Hmong and/or Latinx communities.

Methods: To be eligible for the study, participants identified as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and as members of the broader Latinx and/or the Hmong/Southeast Asian communities. Participants identified as immigrants, migrants, or first-generation Americans, and live in or have lived in the Central Valley. Participants were recruited using snowball sampling with assistance from local community groups.

Using participatory action design, we focused on including the voices of participants in the research process. To do this, we connected with the local agencies to ask for their help in identifying Latinx and Hmong participants. This research focuses on the first phase of this project including interviews with participants, seeking a rich and deep understanding of their experiences related to COVID-19 and as members of the Latinx or Hmong communities as a sexual minority. Qualitative data were analyzed using a phenomenological lens to better understand the experience of the participants. Consistent with PAR, participants from the study were asked to assist in the analysis, checking our progress and providing feedback throughout. Implications are discussed.