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A Synopsis of my Proposed Research Study

Research Question
How do Canadian Muslims who identify as gay and lesbian make sense of the development
of their identity?
Research Problem and Rationale
Much attention in the research has been paid to the development of either an ethnic identity or a sexual
identity due to the complex processes involved in their individual formation. However, the intersection
of these cultural dimensions is an important area requiring additional research. Moreover, Eurocentric
models fail to be sensitive to the multiple oppressions facing ethnic minority clients (Bridges, 2003).
One example of this is the emphasis placed on disclosure, despite evidence in the literature suggesting
that disclosure can disrupt important alliances within the family and the community for culturally
diverse groups (Dworkin, 2000). Often the pressure is not to come out because the ethnic community is
more homophobic than the dominant culture.
Prior research conducted in North America regarding the intersection of gay and religious
identities has focused mostly on Jewish and Christian traditions. Minwalla, Simon, Roser, Feldman, &
Varga (2005) report that although homosexuality exists within the Islamic faith, they could not find any
academic studies addressing the experience of integrating gay and Muslim identities.

Research Approach
The purpose of this qualitative study is to develop a grounded theory of identity, based on the approach
of Charmaz (2002), development that is based upon research guided by the integration of two major
aspects of an individual’s cultural identity: ethnicity and sexual orientation. More specifically, the
process of identity development for gay Ismaili Muslims in Canada will be examined. The creation of a
culturally sensitive model of sexual identity development would help counsellors to appreciate the
unique challenges of gay ethnic minorities. This understanding would facilitate culturally appropriate
counselling approaches and interventions for these individuals.

Data Collection
The research questions will be answered using data mostly obtained from interviews, although other
forms of data may also be collected. For example, data may be collected from participant observation,
researcher reflection and journaling (memoing), and participant journaling. Interviews will play a
central role in the data collection and will be semi-structured, audio or video taped, and transcribed.
Various types of interviews will be used consisting of face-to-face, e-mail, and telephone interviews.

Participant Recruitment
The participants will be adult gay Ismaili Muslims residing in Canada, targeting Calgary, Vancouver,
Toronto, and Montreal. Recruitment will be facilitated through snowball sampling. The researcher has
access to this community due to her membership in this cultural group. The project may also be
advertised in the community’s weekly news bulletin.

Objectives and Benefits of the Study

1) Develop a culturally sensitive theoretical model of sexual identity development using Charmaz’s
Constructionist Grounded theory?
2) Through the interview process, indirectly empower participants in overcoming their challenges
in integrating their ethnic and sexual identities.
3) Educate the Muslim community on the experience of homosexuality through publication of the
research results.
4) Educate counselling professionals in order to increase multicultural competency through
presentations at research conferences.
5) Serve as an anchor to propel further research.