Sexual desirability and the tendency toward unsafe sex

Posted on 03 Dec 2008 at 11:11am

I just got an e-mail from the American Sociological Association about a report I foudn deeply disturbing. Basically, what this study concludes is that gay men not considered “sexually desirable” are much more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, and that they are at higher risk for depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse.

Just one more example of how our society — in the LGBT community and in the mainstream — values style over substance, to the detriment of everyone.

I will include the full text of the e-mail after the jump:

Toronto – Gay men who are not considered sexually desirable are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, according to sociological research from the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. The study also found that these men may develop psychological problems as a consequence of feeling undesirable.

Adam Isaiah Green, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, interviewed dozens of gay men in Toronto to determine what qualities made some men more sexually desirable than others, and what the consequences of being undesirable might be on mental and physical health.

“I found that young, white, middle-class men are considered much more sexually desirable than men who are racial minorities, over 40 and poor,” said Green. “I also learned that for gay men, being considered sexually undesirable can have serious health consequences ranging from psychological issues to risky sexual behavior.”

The study—among the first to examine the link between sex and mental health—found that undesirable gay men face stigmatization, avoidance and outright rejection, which can lead to depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse. It also highlighted cases whereby undesirable gay men will forego safe-sex discussion and, in some cases, condom use, in the context of sex with a more attractive partner.

“We tend to devalue sexual life as something that is extracurricular and frivolous, but this research shows a significant link between sexual desirability and health,” Green said. “Men with low levels of ‘erotic capital’ are systematically marginalized, which can take a real toll both physically and psychologically.”

The article is “Health and Sexual Status in an Urban Gay Enclave: An Application of the Stress Process Model.”

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