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Poverty and InequalitySexual and Reproductive HealthFamily, Maternal & Child HealthMethodology

"I Always Felt I Had to Prove My Manhood": Homosexuality, Masculinity, Gender Role Strain, and HIV Risk Among Young Black Men Who Have Sex With Men

Title"I Always Felt I Had to Prove My Manhood": Homosexuality, Masculinity, Gender Role Strain, and HIV Risk Among Young Black Men Who Have Sex With Men
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsFields, EL, Bogart, LM, Smith, KC, Malebranche, DJ, Ellen, J, Schuster, MA
JournalAm J Public Health
Volume105
Pagination122-131
Date PublishedJan
ISBN Number0090-0036
Accession Number24832150
Abstract

Objectives. We explored gender role strain (GRS) arising from conflict between homosexuality and cultural conceptions of masculinity among young Black men who have sex with men (MSM). Methods. We conducted a categorical analysis (a qualitative, 3-stage, iterative analysis) of data from studies conducted in 2001 to 2006, which interviewed 35 men aged 18 to 24 years in 3 New York cities and Atlanta, Georgia. Results. Participants described rigid, often antihomosexual expectations of masculinity from their families, peers, and communities. Consistent with GRS, this conflict and pressure to conform to these expectations despite their homosexuality led to psychological distress, efforts to camouflage their homosexuality, and strategies to prove their masculinity. Participants believed this conflict and the associated experience of GRS might increase HIV risk through social isolation, poor self-esteem, reduced access to HIV prevention messages, and limited parental-family involvement in sexuality development and early sexual decision-making. Conclusions. Antihomosexual expectations of masculinity isolate young Black MSM during a developmental stage when interpersonal attachments are critical. GRS may influence sexual risk behavior and HIV risk and be an important target for HIV prevention.

PMCID

Pmc4265897