Intersectional Challenges Faced by LGBTQ+ Teens of Color

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[I think you’re hot ]


[I think you’re really hot.]


[You’re gorgeous, both like in body but also you’re really cool, and kind, and funny to the point there’s literally no excuse that I haven’t asked you out and it’s two weeks until graduation but I’m really scared to—]


[Delete]gay black teen blog

“We are so excited that you’re leading tonight’s Bible study. Oh, please tell me your mother’s making her greens for the cookout after.”

James shoved his phone into his pocket. Mrs. Dean was staring over him, green eyes stabbing into him.

“What? Oh yeah, you can’t have a cookout without greens.”

“Exactly! I was planning on bringing ribs, but Clarence said he’s doing them, so maybe I should do the macaroni and— Oh, look at me, talking your ear off. Go ahead and get to lunch!”


“Whoa your hair is such a cool texture. Can I touch it?”

Well then. Okay, so this is the fourth time somebody’s asked since I transferred here from St Paul. I know we’re out in the middle of nowhere but still… How should I…

“Stephanie! Stop bothering James. You don’t see him asking to touch your hair. It’s weird.”

Thank God for Mr. Clarence, at least there’s one other Black person here. 

“Okay so make sure you get the reading done up until page 74 – Oh, James, question for you. Is your brother still playing with his band tonight? I know your mother asked for jazz, but if you could get him to slip in some old school hip-hop… “ Mr. Clarence winked then began to hum a song James was shocked the usher knew.

“Yeah I think so. I know he’s been so busy working on the children’s programming I’ll see what I can do.”

“Well if he needs any suggestions, just tell him to give me a call.”

“Will do, Mr. Clarence.”

“Oh are you speaking tonight?”

“Um yeah. I wouldn’t miss it.”


Steph’s been crying. Again. I should ask if she’s okay but she can also be—


Too late

“Hey, Steph. You okay?”

“I just got my Columbia application back. I didn’t get in.”

“I’m so sorry. I know how excited you were.”

“Hey it’s not your fault. It’s that affirmative action crap. They stopped admitting people based on hard work. My mom said they’re just check boxes for ‘diversity numbers’”

Here we go again.

“I mean James, you get it! How would you feel if people only admitted you because you’re Black instead of your grades. That would feel pretty reductionistic and shady, right?!”

“I mean…”

Do we really want to get into this?

“Well, Steph, when you look at how the education system used to stop other people from getting education, I— somebody could argue it’s to give everyone equal footing and gain more perspectives? I mean let’s say if you hired someone from Japan, you’re not just hiring their skin but also experiences.

My Grandpa said there weren’t a lot of opportunities for BIPOC kids to get into school because of segregation. When he was younger, everyone worked at the factory. When the factory closed, you needed degrees that a lot of people weren’t able to get. I think the affirmative action thing is trying to help families catch up?”

Blank stares

Oh great. I broke them. As one of the three black kids at the school, I have performed my duty to “challenge the white people”

“But James…. That was a long time ago.”


“Today, class, we’re picking up on the reproductive system. While I’m sure your parents would prefer you all to spend your time studying, we know what you boys and girls get up to at this age. That’s why we’re talking about safety today. Oh, already a question. Yes James?”

“So you said boys and girls, but what about… boys and boys? Or any other sexual orientations?”

Silence. Blank stares. Oh, Mrs. Walters is turning red, is she mad or confused, know what, let’s just diffuse—

“Because you know, eventually when I move back to the city, there will likely be um, gay people and I want to be supportive.”

Mrs. Walter’s face washed with relief. “Well, I think that’s up for them to figure out with um their doctors, right?

Back to Google we go.



[Dear Anthony]


[Hey Anthony. I think you’re hot—]

“Whoa, James watch out!”

James glanced up from his phone and stopped himself from walking into an open locker. The locker door closed and he was met with a wide smile.

“Oh! I just died in your arms tonight.” That’s how the song goes right?

“Hey! Anthony!”

Anthony brushed gold locks out of his eyes, revealing the rainbow earrings he got at Pride.

Pride. Sin. Crazy leftists trying to use women’s bathrooms. Pride.

“How are you!” Anthony quickly hugged James, then backed up, blushing. “Haven’t seen you all week. Are you coming to my graduation party tonight?”

“Oh, tonight.” James’ eyes darted back to the earrings.

Pride. That’s a white thing, right. No, Lil Naz X is gay, so maybe—

“Come on, you’re not bailing again.” Anthony made that fake pouting face, his grey-green eyes getting really big. He looked even cuter than before.

Pride. How did he do it, in this place? No, he HAS pride. In a place. In himself

“Yeah, I’ll be there”

I can’t be there, I promised Mom I’d lead the Bible study!

“Awesome! Yeah, I’m really nervous about college. I mean, thankfully you’ll be there too.” He blushed again. “As a friend! It will be nice to have a friend there but still, I don’t know what I want to study. I mean, I was thinking about film, but maybe general communication, though I also heard nursing pays well. Can you imagine me in a hospital, because….”


The word stung. James knew if he asked Anthony out right then, it would be a yes. The thought of being a college student was terrifying and he had zero clue what he wanted to do and no one else in his family had been, but if he went with Anthony then—

“Have you found a nice black girl yet?”

“One day— not any time soon— when you have your wife have kids, you’ll understand”

“Be careful of those college girls, Grandson. Find one rooted in the faith.”

Anthony wasn’t black, wasn’t a girl, and had never stepped foot in a church. If he asked him out then, everything would explode and his mom would be heartbroken at best, kick him out at worst, and then—

“James! You okay? You spaced out.”

“Um yeah, sorry. Actually, I forgot to turn in my homework for English. I’m going to run back and see if Mr. Clark will still take it.”

“Alright… I guess I’ll see you tonight.”

“Huh? Oh yeah, sure! I’ll hit you up later today!”


[Hey Anthony. Sorry, I can’t make it tonight. A family thing came up]


Intersectionality is a term created to discuss how individuals face multiple layers of complexities and oppression through identities of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and the various pathworks of cultural experiences that creates a person (HSC).

An intersection we often neglect is the impact of age. As we focus within BIPOC LGBTQ+ youth, we need to note the nuances of the word youth. Adulthood often has a number of freedoms, such as cultural and legal mobility in housing, transportation, finances, social groups, etc. While teens may be given some of these freedoms by their guardians, they are still held under the authority of their guardians, schools, authority figures, and have limited freedom in where they live, the people around them, and how far they can go. These limitations overlap even more with many of the struggles our BIPOC teens face.

One thing we did not note in James’ story is the risk to safety being queer and a youth of color may bring. A nationally representative survey shows that LGBTQ people of color are more likely than white LGBTQ individuals to encounter discrimination in a variety of settings (Center for American Progress, 2021).

The LGBT+ community also faces 2-3X higher rates of mental health concerns than the general public including mental health outcomes such as heightened risk of self harm and suicide (Heart Mind Haven, 2024).

When talking about intersection of race, age, and queer identities, it is crucial to also talk about identity of faith. For many, a faith tradition is more than religious practice, but a safe space of community and shared values. If one’s faith condemns a central part of your identity (or calls it mental illness) this may lead to fracturing of relationships within the home, faith organization, and even their relationship with their higher Power.

Within the United States alone, there are strong correlations between BIPOC communities and Christianity, which does not as yet have a unified stance on the issue. 71% of Black Americans identify as Christian (PPRI, 2023) and 64% of Latinos identify as Christian (including Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical) (Pew Research Center, 2023). While many faith organizations have made progress to accept and support queer members, many are not there yet. This can create another risk factor for LGBTQ+ youth of color.

In 2024, we are bludgeoned with bad news. This blog isn’t designed to pile on. While our queer youth experience a lot of struggles, there are people and organizations already doing great work. In the Twin Cities alone, we have Teen Tigerrs, the high-school division of Tigerrs, (Transgender, Intersex, Gender-Expansive, and gender questioning). Teen Tigerrs holds connection meetings, a community Discord server, and serves youth with community activities and health care education. The Trevor Project is a leading pioneer in research, education, and connecting youth to resources and mental health support. Out4Good works in the Minneapolis Public School system to support queer students, families, and staff through education, community events, and district level resources. Our very own Sentier Psychotherapy  integrative mental health clinic offers not just individual and family mental health services, but a variety of groups for both LGBTQIA+ teens and parents wishing to better support their children.

An essential part of being human is being part of a community. Whether through donations, attending events, orminnesota therapy community blog sharing local resources, we all must do what we can to protect our future — not just youth, but those of marginalized identities who may be at heightened risk. While some may not feel safe disclosing their sexual or gender identities, we can show our support by not assuming. We can educate ourselves on the experiences our queer and BIPOC youth may be living. Whether we are researching statistics, scrolling on Reddit and Youtube, or asking questions to learn rather than respond, let’s make our community a safer place for everyone.

Much of my clinical and research experience is within the world of Narrative Therapy. In that, I explore how do we separate ourselves from an event, emotion, or feeling and look at the life experience or internal experience from a story lens. Sometimes, it can mean telling our own story in a plot-driven structure. Sometimes it means drawing things out. Sometimes, it means exploring our story through fiction. James isn’t real. But in so many ways, he is. He is a teenager preparing for college, wrestling worlds of high school, grades, dating, moving to a rural town, Blackness in America, and being gay in a space where that isn’t even a thing. James is someone in your school, church, sports team, or job.

James might be you.


Blog written by Sentier therapist, Vaughn (Paradise) Foster, MA, LPC.



Krogstad, J. M. (2023, April 13). Among U.S. latinos, catholicism continues to decline but is still the largest faith. Pew Research Center.,less%20likely%20to%20be%20Protestant

Mahowald, L. (2021, June 24). LGBTQ people of color encounter heightened discrimination. Center for American Progress.

McRae, M. (2024, February 11). What does the LGBTQIA+ community need?. Heart Mind Haven.

Subject guides: Diversity, equity, & inclusion (DEI): What is intersectionality?. What is Intersectionality? – Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) – Subject Guides at University of North Texas Health Science Center. (n.d.-a).

The importance of Christianity to Black Americans. PRRI. (2023, February 28).

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