Graduate Citings: Tales from the Field – Darren Whitfield

Darren-Whitfield-DU-Graduate-CitingsHope you had a wonderful 4th of July pios! We are excited to share with you the work of GSSW PhD candidate Darren Whitfield. Darren is exploring how internalized racism and homophobia affect risky sexual behaviors among GBQSGL Black men. Darren works with appointed faculty member Dr. Eugene Walls, who studies suicidal ideation and attempts by sexual minority youth receiving social services.

Researcher: Darren Whitfield, a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Social Work

Current Research: I am working on a community-based research project that examines the impacts of internalized racism and homophobia on the risky sexual practices of Black gay, bisexual, queer, and same-gender-loving men (GBQSGL) in several metropolitan areas. The research study aims were to understand how internalized negative attitudes about one’s marginalized identities contribute to unsafe sexual practices for Black GBQSGL men and to examine how these attitudes differ when factoring in the identity of the person’s sexual partner. The goal is to develop knowledge that may lead to the develop of HIV prevention intervention designed to address the psychosocial factors associated with HIV infections among Black GBQSGL men. I am currently finalizing a report for community partners and the results of the study will also be presented as part of my dissertation defense in May.

Collaborators: I am part of a research team that consist of Dr. Eugene Walls (Associate Professor and PhD Director), Lisa Langenderfer-Magruder, and Shanna Katz Katarri (DU PhD candidates)

Initial Inspiration: I was initialed inspired when I was conducting qualitative work on internalized stigma. In addition, being a Black gay man myself, I was motivated by the desire to give back to the community in a positive and meaningful way.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge in my research process was recruitment in the local community. I had been working with community organizations to conduct recruitment and it was difficult because there wasn’t already a connection or level of trust in the community regarding myself as a researcher. In order to build trust, I demonstrated my commitment to giving back through dissemination and working with community partners to identify other ways I could be useful to the agency and community.

Research Advice- Teamwork: My best advice is to work in a team. Teamwork provides researchers with the opportunity to collaborate, share ideas, and streamline research production.

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