Exploratory Study of Right-Wing Populism and the Los Angeles LGBTQ Community
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The 2016 election represents a culmination of decades-long shifts toward right-wing populism throughout the western world. This change crescendoed with the election of Donald Trump, a person who has never shied away from propagating hateful rhetoric, which has dangerous implications for marginalized communities. The LGBTQ community in the US has faced a series of challenges in its decades-long battle for fundamental human rights. The Stonewall riots, AIDS activism, and the current struggle for trans rights mark significant moments in this struggle. Previous examinations of the effects of the 2016 election on marginalized communities reveal its detrimental mental health outcomes. However, some studies examining the topic differ in their analysis of the length and severity of such results. Structural violence in Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) coupled with a Marxist analysis of mental health provides a baseline for thinking about mental health in late capitalism. Literature from PACS and Queer theory offers a valuable landscape for the current study. The researcher obtained data from 19 individuals who self-identify as LGBTQ. Transcripts from the interviews are coded using grounded theory instruments. Specifically, the researcher relies on constructive grounded theory to examine the interviews. The findings fall into three inter-related categories. First, respondents highlight intra- community conflicts related to identity and belonging. Additionally, side conflicts center around bias and bigotry targeted at transgender individuals. Second, the effects of these conflicts fall into two categories- identity and structural violence. Identity manifests in participants’ struggles with mental health, such as depression and anxiety. Additionally, participants struggled with reconciling and understanding their coming out experiences. The role of structural violence appears through participants’ geographic anxiety and feelings of privilege. Third, participants respond to these challenges through community and activism. One’s community may include given/biological relations and chosen connections. Second, participants had previously engaged in activism and continue to do so in opposing the more extreme choices of the administration. The study highlights the need for further mental health interventions, preferably centered around coping tools and the LGBTQ community. Furthermore, more exploration of inter-LGBTQ conflict and the coming out experience will add rich data to the field.