Professor Image of MIGNON R. MOORE


Associate Professor of Sociology, Vice Chair and Director of Graduate Studies in African American Studies

Ph.D., University of Chicago

Work Phone:
Mailing Address:
UCLA Department of Sociology
264 Haines Hall, Box 951551
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1551


Family, Gender, Race, Sexuality, Aging, Adolescence

Research Interests

Moore is a family sociologist whose research examines within-group variation in processes and outcomes among disadvantaged groups. Her book, Invisible Families: Gay Identities, Relationships and Motherhood among Black Women (University of California Press), is the 2012 winner of the Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award from the Sex & Gender Section of the American Sociological Association. It explores how initial self-understandings based on race influence subsequent practice of same-sex desire, processes of union formation, routes to motherhood, and the enactment of gendered power relations in families headed by two women. Drawing on three years of meticulous survey, interview, focus group and participant-observation data collection on more than 100 women, Moore reveals the ways Black women who were born in the 1960s and 1970s in large Northern U.S. cities, small Southern U.S. towns, and parts of the Caribbean use these past experiences to shape current thinking about their own lesbian sexuality. 

The distinctiveness of the group under study, racial minority women with same-sex practice, is neither accidental nor arbitrary. Moore argues that more general processes of group formation and identity development occur in a variety of contexts but are most salient in a group whose race and sexuality are hyper-visible. For example, the social construction of gender might be difficult to recognize in a heterosexual couple, but really stands out when same-sex partners are wearing clothing that suggests gender complementarity. Moreover, studying statuses such as motherhood from the behaviors of women in same-sex unions offers a new vantage point from which to analyze more general processes of mothering. 

There are few empirical sociological studies of family formation and same-sex practice within the context of racial/ethnic minority populations. Exploring these and other issues in a sample where biological sex is held constant, where individuals have similar self-understandings of racial identification, and where individuals live in similar neighborhood racial contexts offers new insights, not just to family sociologists, or gender or race specialists, but also to all scholars interested in family, ideology, identity, sexuality, and/or intersectionality. 

Moore's other on-going research provides an in-depth examination of the relationships African-American lesbians and gay men have with their racial and religious communities, and the features of LGBT protest that take place in Black spaces between gay and heterosexual Blacks. These relationships are not a tale of consensus and unity, and Moore shows how issues like same-sex marriage and gay and lesbian parenting play out for individuals struggling for full acceptance within the racial group. 

Moore recently began an NIH-funded study to assess the physical and mental health outcomes that might be related to sexual identity, social support, community institutions, and regular sources of medical care for lesbian and gay elders in New York and Los Angeles. A different component of this work gathers social histories of this population, looking at the social context of entering into a gay sexuality for Black LGBT people prior to and throughout the 1960s and 1970s U.S. political movements, and current experiences with their racial communities as they age. 

Left of Black: Re-imagining Black Studies with Mark Anthony Neal “The Move from Private to Public Expressions of Gay Sexuality in African American Communities” First aired Jan 9 2012 (segment begins at 22:20).

NPR Network interview “To the Point” with Warren Olney , KCRW News, May 11 2009 on the black community’s response to same-sex marriage and gay rights legislation.

Selected Publications


Moore, Mignon. 2011. Invisible Families: Gay Identities, Relationships and Motherhood among Black Women. University of California Press. Winner, 2012 Distinguished Book Award, Sex & Gender Section of the American Sociological Association; Finalist, 2012 C Wright Mills Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems; Honorable Mention, 2013 Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award, Race, Gender & Class Section of the American Sociological Association.


Moore, Mignon R. and Michael Stambolis-Ruhstorfer. 2013. “LGBT Sexuality and Families at the Start of the 21st Century.” Annual Review of Sociology 39: 491-507.

Moore, Mignon R.  2012. Intersectionality and the Study of Black, Sexual Minority Women.” Gender & Society 26, 1: 33-39.

Moore, Mignon R. 2011. “Two Sides of the Same Coin: Revising Analyses of Lesbian Sexuality and Family Formation through the Study of Black Women.Journal of Lesbian Studies 15, 1: 58-68. 

Moore, Mignon R. 2010. “Articulating a Politics of (Multiple) Identities: Sexuality and Inclusion in Black Community Life.” DuBois Review: Social Science Research on Race 7, 2: 1-20. 

Moore, Mignon R. 2010. “Black and Gay in L.A.: The Relationships Black Lesbians and Gay Men Have with their Racial and Religious Communities.”In Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities, D.Hunt and A. Ramon (Eds.), pp. 188-212. NY: New York University Press. 

Moore, Mignon R. 2009. "Independent Women: Equality in African American Lesbian Relationships." In Families as They Really Are, B. Risman (Ed.), pp. 214-227. W.W. Norton. 

Moore, Mignon R. 2008. "Gendered Power Relations among Women: A Study of Household Decision-Making in Black, Lesbian Stepfamilies."American Sociological Review vol 73,2(Apr.): 335-356. To download you or your university must subscribe to this journal. 

Moore, Mignon R. 2006. “Lipstick or Timberlands? Meanings of Gender Presentation in Black Lesbian Communities.” SIGNS: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 32, 1: 113-139. 

Moore, Mignon R. 2003. “Socially Isolated? How Parents and Neighborhood Adults Influence Youth Behavior in Disadvantaged Communities.”Ethnic and Racial Studies, 26, 6: 988-1005. 

Moore, Mignon R. and P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale. 2001. “Sexual Intercourse and Pregnancy among African-American Girls in High-Poverty Neighborhoods: The Role of Family and Perceived Community Environment.” Journal of Marriage and Family 63: 1146-1157. 

Smith, Sandra and Mignon R. Moore. 2000. “Intraracial Diversity and Relations among African Americans: A Case Study of Feelings of Closeness among Black Students at a Predominantly White University.” American Journal of Sociology 106, 1: 1-39. 

Moore, Mignon R. and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. 2003. “Healthy Sexual Development: Notes on Programs that Reduce the Risk of Early Sexual Initiation and Adolescent Pregnancy.” In Reducing Adolescent Risk: Toward an Integrated Approach, D. Romer (ed.), pp. 284-292. The American Academy of Political and Social Science. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. 

Moore, Mignon R. and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. 2002. “Adolescent Parenthood.” In Handbook of Parenting, Second Edition, Volume 3: Being and Becoming a Parent, M. Bornstein (ed.), pp. 173-214. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. 

Moore, Mignon R. 2001. “Family Structure and Adolescent Sexual Debut in Alternative Household Structures.” In Social Awakening: Adolescents’ Behavior as Adulthood Approaches, R. Michael (ed.), pp. 109-136. NY: Russell Sage. 

Smith, Sandra and Mignon R. Moore. 2002. “Expectations of Campus Racial Climate and Social Adjustment among African-American College Students.” In African-American Education: Race, Community, Inequality and Achievement , C. C. Yeaky (series ed.) & W. R. Allen, M. B. Spencer, C. O’Connor (vol. eds.), pp. 93-118. NY: Elsevier Science.


Extramural Grants (since 2008)

2012-2017       National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (NIA/NIH), #2P30-AG02-1684-11. “Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR), Center for the Health Improvement for Minority Elders" (CHIME). Mangione (PI), ~ $2,803,000, Role: Investigator

2010-2012       National Institutes of Health (NIH), #P30-AG02-1684. Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research for “In the Shadow of Sexuality: Older African American Sexual Minorities and Social Support.” Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) Center for Health Improvement for Minority Elders (CHIME). ~$239,171, Role: Principal Investigator

2008-2010       National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pilot Study Award #P30-AG02-1684 awarded to Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR). “In the Shadow of Sexuality: Older African American Sexual Minorities and Social Support.” Funded through UCLA School of Medicine Center for Health Improvement for Minority Elders (CHIME). $40,000, Role: Principal Investigator


Awards and Honors (Selected)

Past Chair, Race, Gender & Class Section of the American Sociological Association 

University Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Mentorship (UCLA) 

Visiting Scholar, Russell Sage Foundation 

Editorial Board, American Sociological Review 

Editorial Board, Journal of Marriage and Family 

Editorial Board, Contemporary Sociology 

National Award, Human Rights Campaign 

Woodrow Wilson Foundation Early Career Fellowship 

Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 

UNC-Chapel Hill Mellon Undergraduate Research Program eponymously renamed the "Mignon Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program" 

Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship


Grad Students

2013-2014 Doctoral Students: Kjerstin Gruys, Amy Brainer, Michael Stambolis, Danielle Wondra, Sarah Schlabach