Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures


Prevalence of Within-Group Racism among Gay Men at the Intersection of Race/Ethnicity, Weight, and Gender Expression

Event Title

National LGBTQ Health Conference: Bridging Research and Practice

Event Location


Document Type


Presentation Date


Date Range

2021-05-20 to 2021-05-21


Racism is a multifaceted form of discrimination that targets people based on their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group and leads significant health disparities. Defined as the prejudicial or unjust treatment between members within the same group or community, within-group discrimination (e.g., racism in the LGBTQ community) has been shown to adversely affect mental health outcomes (e.g., depression, anxiety). Yet, little is known about whether and how racism contributes to experiences of within-group discrimination among gay men. Grounded in intersectionality theory, the present study examined the prevalence of within-group racism experiences in a large sample of gay men and how it varies by race/ethnicity, self-perceived weight, and gender expression. 2,149 gay men between the ages of 19 and 79 were recruited via social media advertisements and completed measures of withingroup racism (Maki, 2017). Participants reported how frequently they experienced within-group racial/ethnic discrimination. A majority of participants were White (72%); 9% were Hispanic, 5% were Black, 4% were Biracial, 4% were Asian, 2% were Indian, <1% were Hawaiian, and 3% identified as another race/ethnicity. For weight, 11% perceived themselves as underweight, 34% perceived their weight as average, and 55% perceived themselves as overweight. For gender expression, 11% perceived themselves as more feminine, 21% perceived themselves as neither masculine nor feminine, and 67% perceived themselves as more masculine. Within-group racism was more commonly reported by racial/ethnic minority participants compared to White participants: 67% vs. 21% have been accused of false stereotypes based on their ethnicity or race by members of the gay community, 52% vs. 11% have been treated with less respect based on their race/ethnicity at a gay establishment and/or gathering, 62% vs 28% have been desired by someone of another race or ethnicity as a means to fulfill a fetish, and 64% vs. 29% have heard derogatory jokes and comments about people of their race/ethnicity at a gay bar and/or gathering. Univariate tests revealed that experiences of within-group racism differed by race/ethnicity and gender expression, but not by self-perceived weight. Gay men of color experienced comparable levels of within-group racism, but significantly more than White gay men. Gay men who perceived themselves to be neither feminine nor masculine reported higher rates of within-group racism compared to their feminine and masculine counterparts. Interestingly, there was an interaction between race/ethnicity and gender expression, with gender neutral Black gay men reporting the highest rates of within-group racism. Findings suggest within-group racism is a prevalent concern among gay men of color and that certain groups of gay men are targeted more than others. Such discrimination threatens gay men's sense of safety and belonging in their own community, increasing health risks. Given the consequences of racism and within-group discrimination on mental health, future research is encouraged to explore the effects and mechanisms of within-group racism among specific groups of gay men to better understand pathways of risk and resilience.