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AIDS Educ Prev. 2011 Apr;23(2):145-58. doi: 10.1521/aeap.2011.23.2.145.

Strategies for managing racism and homophobia among U.S. ethnic and racial minority men who have sex with men.

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Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California, San Francisco, 94105, USA.


Despite widespread recognition that experiences of social discrimination can lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes for members of minority groups, little is known about how U.S. ethnic minority men who have sex with men (MSM) manage their experiences of racism and homophobia. We conducted six focus group discussions (n = 50) and 35 in-depth interviews with African American, Latino, and Asian and Pacific Islander MSM (aged 18 or older) recruited in Los Angeles. This process revealed five strategies that MSM of color employed in order to mitigate the impact of racism and homophobia. To minimize opportunities for stigmatization, men used (a) concealment of homosexuality and (b) disassociation from social settings associated with stigmatization. To minimize the impact of experienced stigma, men (c) dismissed the stigmatization and (d) drew strength and comfort from external sources. Men also actively countered stigmatization by (e) direct confrontation. More research is needed to understand the efficacy of these coping strategies in mitigating negative health consequences of stigmatization and discrimination.

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