Christina Marie Chestna is a 2015 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee

Victor Pantesco, Ed.D,, Committee Chair
Lorraine Mangione, Ph.D., Committee Member
Glenda Russell, Ph.D., Committee Member


identity, sexual orientation, religion, Catholic, lesbian

Document Type


Publication Date



The following is a qualitative study designed to shed light on the experiences of undergraduate Catholic lesbians. The study focused on the unique ways in which these women negotiate the intersection of the religious and sexual aspects of their identities. Research shows that religious and sexual aspects of identity often conflict. In-depth research aimed specifically at the negotiation of religious and sexual identity dimensions is needed. In this study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with undergraduate Catholic lesbians who had the opportunity to speak about the ways in which they negotiate the potentially conflicting religious and sexual aspects of their identities. Given their immersion in the developmental task of identity development, undergraduate women served as the participants for this study. Within a constructivist paradigm, interpretative phenomenological analysis was the chosen methodology for this study. As a result of the analysis, seven superordinate concepts emerged that represent the ways in which participants hold both religious and sexual aspects of identity. The seven concepts are: (a) experience of internal conflict, (b) compartmentalizing aspects of identity, (c) personal meaning-making within Catholicism, (d) limiting the scope of Catholic beliefs and religious participation, (e) shifting identification and openness about identity in response to the context, (f) use of specific actions and thoughts to cope, (g) personal construction of identity dimensions. These concepts elucidate the unique ways in which these women understand and cope with these identity dimensions and, ultimately, reconcile the two.