Abstract: The Black Lives Matter Movement: Which Factors Contribute to Civic Engagement for Sexual Minority Men? (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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The Black Lives Matter Movement: Which Factors Contribute to Civic Engagement for Sexual Minority Men?

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Valley of the Sun D, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Joy Green, MSW, PhD Student, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Jeremy Gibbs, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Background and Purpose: The Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) has been influential in uncovering violence toward Black individuals. In 2020, BLM support increased as people engaged in worldwide protests in response to police killings of Black people. While involvement in BLM has been associated with liberal political beliefs, very little is known about how other minoritized populations choose to engage in BLM activities. Although research indicates the presence of overt racism within the sexual minority male community, very little is known about the factors (e.g., attitudes towards police brutality, being Black, education, diverse social relationships) that may impact this population’s engagement in BLM. Therefore, the aim of this study is to a) identify the social factors associated with BLM involvement for gay, bisexual, and other sexual minority men, and b) test how attitudes towards police violence mediates these relationships.

Methods: During June 2020, 162 sexual minority men were recruited through app-based advertisements on the three most popular gay dating apps. Advertisements were sent to all users located in the state of Georgia during the week of recruitment. Potential participants completed an online screener, and if eligible, participated in a main online questionnaire (n=239) and were requested to complete a supplemental questionnaire (n=162). The current study uses data from both the main and supplemental questionnaires. Participants responded to demographic items, a nineteen-item inventory of BLM involvement, a four-item scale of attitudes about police brutality towards Black people, a social network questionnaire, and a scale of gay community connection. Two multilinear regressions were run to identify factors associated with BLM involvement and to test if attitudes towards police brutality mediated these relationships.

Results: The sample was 37% Black identifying, and 35 years old on average. Income varied, with 80% of participants indicating a household income less than $75,000. Over half the sample reported having a bachelor’s degree or higher. On average, participants indicated one or two close relationships with Black people. Participants on average indicated an agreement that police brutality towards Black people is a problem, and participated in approximately four BLM activities (e.g., attended protests, posted on social media, contributed financially) to show support. A multilinear regression (F=8.793, p=<.001, R-sqr=.222) found that identifying as Black, and gay community connection were significantly associated with attitudes about police brutality towards Black people. A second multilinear regression (F=11.449, p=<.001, R-sqr=.310) found that attitudes about police brutality and gay community connection were positively associated with involvement in BLM. A Sobel test for mediation found that attitudes towards police brutality fully mediated the relationship between race and involvement in BLM.

Conclusions and Implications: While education, race, and closeness to Black individuals may be thought to predict BLM-related civic engagement, for sexual minority men, attitudes towards police brutality were the highest predictor. Further, gay community connection had a direct effect on BLM involvement, indicating that connection to the gay community may facilitate engagement with other minoritized communities. Future research should investigate how gay community connection facilitates BLM involvement and how attitudes towards police brutality can be changed.