According to prior research, the average age at first marriage has steadily increased in the US due in large part to the significance that young adults place on marriage and their evolving conceptions of marital readiness. However, despite the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, there is a significant oversight of sexual minorities in this research. To address this, we draw upon qualitative data collected through an online survey to explore how our sample of unmarried sexual minority young adults (N=256) think about marital timing. The results of our thematic analysis show that those in our sample often think about marital timing in terms of “checkpoints,” circumstances or conditions such as financial security, college education, and/or personal maturity that they hope to achieve prior to getting married. Our survey respondents also reported considering their families and broader norms regarding age at marriage, and even those who indicated not wanting to marry reported that they might do so if their partner wants to marry, or they suddenly need the legal rights or benefits associated with marriage. These results suggest that sexual minority young adults think about marital timing and readiness in ways that are quite like heterosexual young adults.


LGBTQ+, adolescents and young adults, marriage, marital timing, qualitative survey data, thematic analysis

Author Bio(s)

Aaron Hoy, Ph.D., is an associate professor of sociology at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where his teaching and research focus on families, sexualities, sex and gender, and qualitative methods. He is also an Editor at The Qualitative Report. Please direct correspondence to aaron.hoy@mnsu.edu

Sachita Pokhrel is an undergraduate student at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she is a double major in psychology and sociology.


The authors would like to thank the Midwest Sociological Society (MSS) for grant funding to support the collection of the data used in this article; the reviewers and editors at TQR whose comments strengthened the article; and most importantly, the young adults who shared their thoughts and experiences with us as part of our larger study.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.




0000-0002-4415-2829 (Aaron Hoy)



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