Abstract: Racialized Sexual Discrimination (RSD): Documenting the Experiences of Young Black Gay/Bisexual Men (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

224P Racialized Sexual Discrimination (RSD): Documenting the Experiences of Young Black Gay/Bisexual Men

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Ryan Wade, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Gary Harper, PhD, Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Background and Purpose: Young Black gay/bisexual men (YBGBM) are at disproportionate risk for poor mental and sexual health outcomes due to multilevel stressors, such as community- and individual-level discrimination. However, the effects of racial discrimination are under-examined among YBGBM. Racialized Sexual Discrimination (RSD)—also known as sexual racism—is a widely reported phenomenon in popular LGBT discourse, and is commonly experienced by gay/bisexual men of color in online sexual networking venues. However, there is limited empirical research on this phenomenon and its effects. RSD may facilitate negative health outcomes among YBGBM—including, but not limited to, poor psychological health. RSD thus represents an important area of inquiry for the social and health sciences.

Method: We conducted focus groups with young gay/bisexual men of color to identify and categorize RSD experiences. We used the resultant information to develop and psychometically evaluate a multidimensional scale of RSD. The scale was included in a cross-sectional nationwide survey on discrimination and health among YBGBM. Using data from this survey, we estimated 12 hierarchical linear regression models to examine the association between RSD and indicators of psychological health (i.e., self-reported depressive symptoms and feelings of self-worth) among a sample of YBGBM (N = 634).

Results: Factor analyses revealed an 8-factor structure of the RSD scale. Three of these factors emerged as significant in subsequent regression analyses. Factor 1: white supremacy (B = .11, p < .01); Factor 2: black rejecting black (B = .15, p < .001), and Factor 3: white-on-black physical objectification (B = .15, p < .01) were all significantly associated with higher depressive symptoms. In addition, white-on-black physical objectification (B = -.09, p < .01) was significantly associated with lower feelings of self-worth.

Conclusions and Implications: This study provides preliminary evidence of the viability of an RSD scale. It provides further evidence of RSD’s association with adverse psychosocial functioning among YBGBM. Future research should further refine the RSD scale, and examine potential moderating and mediating mechanisms between RSD and psychological health. It may be critical for researchers and practitioners to account for the ways in which RSD uniquely effects the lives of gay/bisexual men of color. Moreover, education initiatives that highlight the primacy, pervasiveness, and impact of RSD may serve as an entry point for community-level interventions.