Abstract: Understanding Gay Community Connection in an App Based Culture (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

617P Understanding Gay Community Connection in an App Based Culture

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Jacob Gordon, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Jeremy Gibbs, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Background and Purpose: Feeling connected to the gay community has lasting impacts on wellness for YMSM. Currently, usage of geosocial networking applications (GSNA) or apps is ubiquitous among young men who have sex with men (YMSM) in the United States. Where men traditionally sought out gay others in bars and clubs they can now utilize smartphone technology. As the means for finding and building gay community connection (GCC) for YMSM has expanded to online platforms, research examining the relationship of app usage and gay community connection is lacking. The goal of the current study is to explore ones’ cognitive or felt GCC by examining the frequency one uses apps and the frequency one visits gay bars or clubs.

Methods: The authors conducted a secondary data analysis of the HAT study – a cross sectional survey conducted in Los Angeles, CA from 2017-2018. The study examined multiple aspects of GSNA usage among a sample of 124 YMSM, using both GSNA and venue-based sampling methods. GCC was measured using the 8-item Identification and Involvement with the Gay Community Scale. The authors hypothesized that higher rates of app usage and visiting gay venues would be associated with higher scores of cognitive GCC by means of a multiple logistic regression. Furthermore, rationale for using apps to build GCC was included as a control variable to better understand the relationship that app usage has on cognitive gay community connection.

Results: Results of the regression found that the frequency that one goes to a gay bar or club was significant and positivity associated with cognitive GCC scores (B = .59, p < .01). Conversely, app use was not significant (B = -.05, p > .05) in predicting cognitive GCC.

Conclusion and Implications: App use is not related to a cognitive connection with the gay community, suggesting that even when YMSM are using the app for this purpose, this technology does not provide the agency of users to increase GCC. However, traditional modes of interaction continue to build a cognitive GCC. Future research should seek to understand how young men are finding community if apps are not facilitating this connection and why YMSM may fail to use apps for their desired purpose.