The psychological costs of being different and ways of coping among sexual minority students in a South African University

Erhabor S Idemudia, Patricia Kolobe, Petunia Tsheole


Homo-normative behaviour is socially not accepted in Africa and therefore such individuals are highly stigmatized. This places a burden on individuals who do not identify themselves as heterosexuals. Sexual minorities include homosexuals, bi-sexuals, trans-sexuals who suffer discrimination and victimization on campuses, so tend to falsify their self-identities. In the absence of a localized study among sexual minorities in South African universities, this study investigated whethersexual minority students in the university will report poor mental health, multiple identities and are able to reside in their environment. The study used a qualitative research design that allowed the researchers to dig deeper into the life experiences of the students from both individual and collective perspectives. Data was analysed thematically and feelings, values and meanings were connected through ideas and personal view points. Snowball sampling was used. The sample consisted of 11 African students (four gays and seven lesbians) with ages ranging between 19 and 24 years. Participants were recruited from different faculties and levels of study.  Two major themes were extracted during analysis and the principal outcome of the study was that homosexuals have a major challenge in their future work industry, have some identity crisis, poor psychological wellbeing and moderate resilience. The need to educate the public, university administrators and lecturers of sexual dynamics on campus amongst others were recommended.


Psychological wellbeinHomosexuals; Resilience; Identity crisis; South Africa

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ISSN 2308-7854 (online); ISSN 0850-5780 (print)

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