Abstract: Machismo, Caballerismo, and Substance Use: The Protective Role of Gay Community Attachment Among a National Sample of Latinx/o Sexual Minority Men (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Machismo, Caballerismo, and Substance Use: The Protective Role of Gay Community Attachment Among a National Sample of Latinx/o Sexual Minority Men

Friday, January 17, 2020
Liberty Ballroom I, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Gabriel Robles, PhD, Post Doctoral Fellow, City University of New York, NY
Stephen Bosco, MA, Doctoral Student, City University of New York
Tyrel Starks, PhD, Associate Professor, City University of New York
Background: Latinx/o sexual minority men (LSMM) face significant health burden across multiple domains. Research has demonstrated that individuals belonging to multiple minority groups experience greater negative health-related outcomes due to additive stressors. Attention has been placed on stigma enacted by society broadly and within Latinx/o populations, specifically. Internalized homonegativity has been a documented as predictor of poor mental health and greater substance use. Research on predominately heterosexual Latinx/o men has consistently found substance use to be influenced by cultural values that favor hyper masculinity (e.g., machismo). Conversely, the literature points to the positive impact that community attachment has on health outcomes among stigmatized communities. Thus, the current study examines the buffering effect gay community attachment has on the impact of Machismo and substance use.

Methods:  Data were collected from a nationwide sample of partnered Latinx/o men in the U.S. including Puerto Rico. Recruitment targeted LGBT affirming social media applications (e.g., Grindr, Facebook, etc.).  Surveys were offered in both English and Spanish, and were compensated with an Amazon gift card. The sample consisted of 463 partnered men with a mean age of 31.1 (SD = 7.2). The majority of the participants self-identified as White Latino (61.8%) with 38.2% self-identifying as Latino of color (i.e., Afro-Latino, Native American /Indigenous, and other – which includes Latino as a standalone category within race). Nearly half of the sample (45.0%) was born outside the mainland US. Participants were assessed using Modified Machismos for Gay Men Scale, Internalized homonegativity Scale (IHS), and Gay Community Attachment Scale (GCAS). Participants were asked whether they used substances (i.e., cocaine, ecstasy, etc.) in the previous 30 days with a yes/no response option. If participants endorsed recent substance use, they were then asked to report frequency of use.  

Results:  There was a positive association between age and substance use instances (B = 0.12, p < .001). Findings also indicated decreased substance use among men who reported being a longer-term relationship (B = -0.02, p < .001). Further, results indicated that being born in US was associated with increased rates of substance use (B = 1.45, p < .001). Using a negative binomial regression model, we found that GCAS moderated the effected of Machismo on substance use instances (B = -0.30, p < 0.02), while controlling for IHS and other demographic factors.  The results indicated no moderating effect with Caballerismo on substance use.

Conclusions: Our findings are not to pathologize the Latinx/o experience; but to leverage cultural values and promote social and community attachment among highly marginalized communities such as LSMM as to enhance positive health behaviors. Further, the current study identifies the protective role of being born out-side the mainland US on substance use. This finding highlights the need for a greater body of research on immigrant Latinx/o living in the mainland US.  The results suggest how community level interventions that aim to promote greater inclusion of US born Latinx/o and Latinx/o immigrants within the larger queer/gay community may have a positive impact on substance use behaviors of this population.