Martin Luther King MemorialAIDS 2018 PosterMenCount TeamAAMTeam Represent Staff at AIDS 2018


Advancing intersectionality in social science and behavioral health research

 “Well it’s hard for me to separate [my identities]. When I’m thinking of me, I’m thinking of all of them as me. Like once you’ve blended the cake you can’t take the parts back to the main ingredients. I’m a gay man. Also there is something to say about the aspects of being a Black man.”

--Nigel, 37 years old (Bowleg, 2012)

Intersectionality has a lengthy and important history in Black feminist scholarship and activism.  Freed slave and feminist activist Sojourner Truth eloquently articulated intersectionality as early as 1851 in her famous "Ain't I A Woman" speech, for example. Intersectionality is an analytical perspective that proposes that people’s multiple social locations/identities (e.g., race, gender, ethnicity, class, sexual identity, disability) intersect to reflect several  social-structural inequalities based on those locations/identities. And because these multiple social identities are interlocking, they cannot be separated or ranked.

Take Black men — the focus of much of Team Represent’s research — as an example. From an intersectionality perspective, it is impossible to understand Black men’s social and health inequities without understanding how gender (i.e., what it means to be men) intersects with race (i.e., Black), and sexual identity (i.e., gay, bisexual, or MSM).  Those multiple and interlocking social identities, and the social-structural inequalities based on those identities, mean that public health officials, policymakers, and researchers understand relatively little about Black men’s experiences when they focus exclusively on a single identity (e.g., being Black, male or  GBMSM), rather than on the meaning and experiences of multiple and interlocking identities.

Team Represent is among those at the forefront of advancing intersectionality as a critical theoretical framework for social science and behavioral health research. We believe that acknowledging the existence of multiple intersecting identities and social-structural inequity is a necessary first step to understanding and addressing the complex social and health inequities that people from historically marginalized groups face. Accordingly, we focus on the experiences of these populations in their own contexts and from their own vantage points, rather than on how they deviate from the norms of privileged groups such as White, middle and upper class, heterosexual people.

Team Represent is also in the vanguard of scholars who have examined the challenges of using intersectionality, an analytical framework not initially designed for research, to conduct intersectionality-informed research, particularly quantitative intersectionality research (Bowleg, 2008; Bowleg & Bauer, 2016).





Bowleg and Bauer on quantifying intersectionality

Team Represent PI Lisa Bowleg and Greta Bauer of The University of Western Ontario build on recent scholarship on the challenges and opportunities of quantitative intersectionality research within psychology.


For many Black gay and bisexual men, their Black identity ranks first

A sample of D.C.-based Black gay and bisexual men describe the ways in which they experience the intersections of race, gender, and sexual identity.