Centralizing the Psychology of Sexual Minority Asian and Pacific Islander Americans

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Abstract

The purpose of this literature review article was to centralize a holistic view of sexual minority Asian and Pacific Islander American (SM APIA) experiences and offer recommendations to guide psychological practice. Theoretical and empirical works from various disciplines were synthesized and found to demonstrate the central role of API cultural values in the development and management of SM APIA sexual expressions. Connectedness to communities and cultures of origin, maintenance of prized social relationships, traditional expectations related to family and gender, as well as coping with minority stress emerged as key elements to understanding and working with this population. Findings suggest that conceptualizing SM APIAs through the lens of predominantly White LGBTQ community norms may lead psychologists to pathologize healthy approaches to navigating the sexual minority experience and intervene in culturally inappropriate ways. The authors discuss the broader API cultural context as a framework for understanding the following thematic sections that emerged from the literature: identity development, coming out, minority stress, and issues related to seeking healthy communities and relationships. They conclude with recommendations with which psychologists can support SM APIAs to draw on, and reconnect to, relevant cultural strengths to thrive despite exposure to multiple oppressions.

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