Understanding Attachment Transitions Through the Lived Experiences of Young Black Gay and Bisexual Men

Stephanie H. Cook, Pamela Valera, Erica P. Wood, Benjamin J. Calebs, Patrick A. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We conducted a mixed-methods study to identify factors that influence transitions in attachment style between childhood and adulthood among 28 young Black gay and bisexual men (YBGBM) in the United States. We used a phenomenological approach to data integration, with the major component to the results being garnered from the qualitative interviews. We organized our results by four attachment transition groups: stable secure (secure attachment in childhood and young adulthood), stable insecure (insecure attachment in childhood and young adulthood), secure to insecure (secure in childhood and insecure in adulthood) and insecure to secure (insecure in childhood and secure in adulthood). Within each of the typologies, two major themes emerged: social support and religion. Generally, transitions from secure to insecure attachment were related to experiences of perceived rejection by a parental figure during adolescence that corresponded with sexual orientation disclosure. Transitions from insecure to secure attachment appeared to be related to the absence of an attachment figure early in life, but with the acquisition of an attachment figure during early to late adolescence. The findings from our study suggest a need for attachment-based approaches to social support interventions, as well as for an increased understanding of social and cultural factors that impact attachment changes among practitioners who use attachment-based therapy models for YBGBM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604-619
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Jun 13 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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