Angela M. Ross

Major and Classification

Sociology and Social Sciences (Economics)

Faculty Mentor

Veronica Terriquez, Ph.D.


Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

McNair Project

“Undocu-Queer: Coming Out of the Shadows and the Closet”

Project Abstract

This project utilizes theories from sexuality, social mobilization, and immigration research to examine how involvement in an AB 540 organization affects the process of queer identity development among undocumented immigrant queer-identified youth. In conducting ten in-depth interviews with undocumented queer-identified young adults involved in AB 540 organizations, three distinctive patterns of queer identity development emerged. First, consistent with the theories of “familism” among immigrant households, I found that undocumented youth perceive augmented family tensions upon disclosure of their queer identity because they rely on the social and financial networks their families provide. Second, I found that for many undocumented queer youth, queerness is a secondary coming out process. Specifically, they gain the tools and support to come out as undocumented first, which then empowers them to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer. Third, rather than viewing their experiences as undocumented and queer-identified folks through additive oppression models, my respondents verbalized their experiences through intersectional lenses. The findings of this research have implications for broader discussions of identity, civic engagement, social movements, and queer sexuality.