Methods: Nineteen Black, Hispanic, and White gay males, ages 19 - 30, participated in this qualitative study. Participants were asked to describe the impact of having parent-child conversations on topics regarding sexual behavior and sexual identity on their own sexual behaviors and sexual practices. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using the iterative processes associated with qualitative content analysis.
Results: Between having the initial sex conversations and disclosing their gay sexual orientation, participants recalled that their communications with their parents resulted in conversations that that were effective especially regarding a) sexual safety (conversations primed their ability to ask tough questions and engage in raw and thorough conversations with sexual partners, and friends); b) condom use (the appropriate words to define their boundaries with their sex partners, and delay sex because their partner was not ready to use condoms), and c) comfort with talking about sex (helped define what sexual identity meant for them, how, and with whom they spoke about sex, and helped them to more openly and honestly disclose their sexual wants with their sexual paramours). However, for a few of the participants, they recalled that these conversations were most effective when they were single and non-monogamous. Once they got in monogamous relationships, they became unsure about the ways to navigate those relationships. Lastly, a few participants stated that these conversations were not effective as the contents of the conversations did not apply to their sexual desires.
Conclusions: Findings from this study suggest that open conversations with parents are effective in shaping the gay men's sexual behaviors. For these young men, the conversations helped them normalize their sexual behaviors, and empowered them to both engage in continued conversations with partners, or walk away from situations that were detrimental to their own well-being. Unfortunately, for some, they required additional conversations that were inclusive of both being single and being in relationship.