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Keith Watts portrait

Keith J. Watts

Ph.D. candidate


CV » [PDF]


M.S.W., Clark Atlanta University
B.A., Georgia State University

Keith Watts (pronouns he/him/his) is a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2018, he completed training at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research Program for Research on Black Americans. His research focuses on the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals, and his dissertation draws on theories of intersectionality to examine how conceptualizations of masculinity impact the mental health and well-being of gay Black men. He is specifically interested in measuring how adherence to and internalization of norms of masculinity affect gay Black men’s use of and retention in mental health services. Additionally, he is a member of the International Partnership for Queer Youth Resilience (INQYR) International Student Training Network (ISTN) and conducts research that examines the protective role of pets for LGBTQ+ youth with VCU’s Children, Families, and Animals Research Group (CFAR).

Watts holds a B.A. in psychology from Georgia State University and an M.S.W. from Clark Atlanta University. He has worked as a Behavioral Specialist at a psychiatric residential treatment facility for children and as a mental health counselor and case manager at a transitional home for homeless, dually diagnosed individuals. He facilitates a bi-weekly men’s support group at Diversity Richmond, a local LGBTQ+ non-profit organization.

Watts has been an active member of the VCU community. He is an officer of the Doctoral Student Association and has played an active role in Richmond [Re]Visited: Intersections of Race and Mental Health, a daylong event that connects the history of Richmond to prominent mental health issues in today’s African American community. In 2019, the VCU Department of African American Studies recognized Watts’s academic excellence, community service and activism with the “Black History in The Making Award” and the School of Social Work awarded him the “Leadership and Service Award.”


  • School of Social Work Leadership and Service Award - Virginia Commonwealth University, March 2019
  • Black History in the Making Award - Virginia Commonwealth University, February 2019
  • Dean’s Choice Award for Academic Excellence in Research - Clark Atlanta University, May 2017


  • Student representative, Governance and Operations Committee - August 2018 - present
  • Treasurer, Doctoral Student Association - August 2018 - present (2 terms)] 


Watts, K. J. & Bentley, K. J. (2019). The perceptions of gay Black men on the social construction of masculinity: Implications for mental health care. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Wagaman, M. A., Watts, K. J., Lamneck, V., D’Souza, S., McInroy, L. B., Eaton, A., & Craig, S. (2019). Managing stressors online and offline: LGBTQ+ youth in the Southern United States. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Wagaman, M. A., Alessi, E., Goffnett, J., Watts, K. J., Iacono, G., Thomas, D., . . . Craig, S. (2019). Interrupting hetero- and cisnormativity in social work programs: LGBTQ+ student strategies for increasing inclusion. In press.