Sexual racism in gay communities: negotiating the ethnosexual marketplace
This qualitative study was an in-depth examination of sexual racism (i.e., racism occurring in sexual contexts) within the gay community of the Seattle metropolitan area. Data was collected through key informant interviews and focus groups with self-identified gay Asian/Pacific Islander, African American/Black, and White men. Data analyses using a grounded theory approach revealed a variety of social locations in which sexual racism manifests including the internet, pornographic media, gay clubs and bars, casual/anonymous sexual encounters, and romantic relationships. Within these locations, sexual racism was reported to take different forms, manifesting as ethnosexual stereotypes, racial fetishism, and race-based sexual rejection. Participants of color identified internalized sexual racism, decreased self-esteem, and psychological distress as the primary psychological consequences of sexual racism. The data analyses revealed quantitatively and qualitatively distinct racial pressures operating in the gay community in Seattle. Participants estimated that compared to the heterosexual community, their gay community was more racially stratified and exhibited higher rates of sexual racism. They described the uniquely sexual basis of racial stereotypes and pointed to a skewed set of social norms operating in the gay community which allow greater expression of sexual racism than in the heterosexual community. Finally, the data revealed key differences in the psychological impact of sexual racism reported by Asian and Black gay men. An emergent hypothesis is presented outlining the relationships between experienced sexual racism and its sequelae, as well as protective factors. Theoretical, research, and clinical implications are discussed.
- Psychology