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Researcher Reveals Why Black Lesbians Marry

Black lesbians who marry don’t do it just for the legal benefits that come with getting hitched. “Black lesbian and bisexual women primarily view marriage as giving them community recognition as group members,” says Siobhan Brooks, associate professor and co-chair of African American Studies at Cal State Fullerton.

Brooks’ study “Black on Black Love: Black Lesbian and Bisexual Women, Marriage, and Symbolic Meaning” was published in the winter issue of The Black Scholar: Journal of Black Studies and Research.

Included, Not Just Tolerated

Siobhan Brooks headshot

Siobhan Brooks created the first black LGBT course at Cal State Fullerton.

“Prior to gay marriage many of us felt like our presence was tolerated in mainstream black spaces (i.e. churches, family settings, work), as long as it was not discussed,” Brooks said in an email to the Orange County Register, which shared a story about her research. “Now we have language to talk about our relationships; when people talk about their spouses at work, we can also say that — it’s a cultural shift.”

The nine black lesbians and one bisexual woman, Brooks interviewed, told her they married each other because they wanted to legitimize their relationships in church settings, create stability and because they were raised by and appreciate black women.

Read more about the study in the Orange County Register.

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