Examining Natural Mentoring Relationships (NMRs) among Self-Identified Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning (GBQ) Male Youth

Child Youth Serv Rev. 2012 Jan 1;34(1):8-14. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.12.018.


Scholars have identified the presence of natural mentoring relationships (NMRs) as one of a set of protective factors that promote and protect the health and well-being of "at-risk" and marginalized youth. While this work has informed our understanding of the importance of NMRs for supporting youth and promoting positive development, it has only just begun to extend its inquiry focus onto the lives of same-sex attracted (SSA) youth (e.g., gay and bisexual youth). Thirty-nine in-depth interviews with self-identified gay, bisexual, and questioning (GBQ) male youth (ages 15 - 22) were qualitatively analyzed for the presence, form, and function of NMRs. Results from this inquiry revealed that participants identified a diverse range of "natural mentors" and that the provision of social support was of thematic prominence in these relationships. Results from this effort are here presented. Clinical and programming implications, as well as directions for future work are discussed.

Keywords: adolescents; gay; natural mentoring; social support.