The understanding of the experiences of queer Arab Americans and the ways in which they navigate cross cultural expectations of gender and sexuality is limited in the anthropology or social sciences scholarship. The available scholarship focuses primarily on queerness in juxtaposition to Islam, which is not relatable to all Arab Americans as they are a religiously diverse group. Through an intersectional approach, this research, conducted from April 2020 to May 2021, explores the lived experiences of queer Arab Americans from across the United States (U.S.) while seeking to identify potential commonalities that could encompass a more general queer Arab American experience in an attempt to broaden the understanding of an underrepresented population. Over the course of four months from June to September 2020, I conducted 16 semi-structured interviews that explored how participants navigated their worlds as queer Arab Americans. I conducted media analysis to contextualize the primary data. The narrative data were transcribed, coded, and analyzed to identify significant themes and subthemes, and capture the diversity of explanations. The findings in this study were divided into two article manuscripts. The first article examines participants' experiences through their interpersonal connections with their families of origin and communities. I argue that, although religion plays a role in anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes, Arab families are predominantly anti-LGBTQ+ to prevent social ostracization from their communities. Additionally, a lack of public representation for queer Arab Americans creates hardship and delay in coming to terms with their gender identities and sexualities and perpetuates this population's invisibility. Ultimately, acceptance by an inclusive community strengthened individuals' confidence in their identities and helped alleviate the effects of rejection and isolation felt by the participants. The second article examines the positionality of queer Arab Americans resulting from cultural othering due to historically strained U.S. relations with the Arab world. As a result, participants felt invalidated and alienated by people from both Arab and American communities, however they felt their existences as queer Arabs defied the opposition aimed at them. Additionally, they perceived American stereotyping of the Arab world hypocritical as the Queer community is still marginalized and without nationwide legal protections in the U.S.


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Graduation Date





Mishtal, Joanna


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program





CFE0009118; DP0026451





Release Date

February 2022

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)