Sexual Racism Is Associated with Lower Self-Esteem and Life Satisfaction in Men Who Have Sex with Men

Arch Sex Behav. 2020 Jan;49(1):347-353. doi: 10.1007/s10508-019-1456-z. Epub 2019 Aug 12.


Men of color who have sex with men (MCSM) commonly experience sexual racism within the community of men who have sex with men (MSM) and are often rejected as potential sexual and romantic partners as a result. The present study quantitatively investigated whether MCSM experience more race-based sexual discrimination relative to White MSM and whether there is an association between experiences of race-based sexual discrimination and two indicators of psychological well-being, namely self-esteem and life satisfaction. Participants were 1039 Australian MSM (774 White MSM, 265 MCSM) recruited from Grindr, a popular mobile geosocial networking app for MSM, who reported their experiences of race-based sexual discrimination, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. Results showed that MCSM experienced significantly more race-based sexual discrimination relative to White MSM, and that race-based sexual discrimination was significantly associated with lower self-esteem and, in turn, lower life satisfaction. These results further corroborate past qualitative work that has long suggested a link between sexual racism and psychological well-being for MCSM. Implications and future directions are discussed.

Keywords: Life satisfaction; Men who have sex with men; Psychological well-being; Self-esteem; Sexual orientation; Sexual racism.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Racism / psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology*