Dr. Stephanie Cook, assistant professor of biostatistics and social and behavioral sciences at New York University College of Global Public Health, has just had her study, “Understanding Attachment Transitions Through the Lived Experiences of Young Black Gay and Bisexual Men,” published by the Journal of Sex Research.
The authors conducted a mixed-methods study to identify factors that influence transitions in attachment style between childhood and adulthood among 28 young Black gay and bisexual men (YBGBM) in the United States. They used a phenomenological approach to data integration, with the major component to the results being garnered from the qualitative interviews. They organized the results by four attachment transition groups: stable secure (secure attachment in childhood and young adulthood), stable insecure (insecure attachment in childhood and young adulthood), secure to insecure (secure in childhood and insecure in adulthood) and insecure to secure (insecure in childhood and secure in adulthood). Within each of the typologies, two major themes emerged: social support and religion. Generally, transitions from secure to insecure attachment were related to experiences of perceived rejection by a parental figure during adolescence that corresponded with sexual orientation disclosure. Transitions from insecure to secure attachment appeared to be related to the absence of an attachment figure early in life, but with the acquisition of an attachment figure during early to late adolescence. The findings from the study suggest a need for attachment-based approaches to social support interventions, as well as for an increased understanding of social and cultural factors that impact attachment changes among practitioners who use attachment-based therapy models for YBGBM.