This article considers demographic categories used in the Young Men’s Study on HIV risk for men who have sex with men. We critique oversimplified pan-ethnic categories and the polarization of US racial discourse. We also interrogate the use of certain gender and sexuality markers that produced confusing results in this study. We use a critical standpoint derived from cultural studies to suggest that quantitative and qualitative methods of studying health risks and intimate behaviors in vulnerable populations require reorganization to more accurately represent the lives of members of these groups. Interviews, surveys, and statistics can be crude and lacking in practical information. Finally, we address media and governmental response to the Young Men’s Study, and the continued need for organizing across minoritized communities.


Young Men’s Study, People of Color, Pan-Ethnicity, Youth, Sexuality, HIV Risk, and Men who have Sex with Me


The authors would like to thank Jeffrey Bussolini, Ariel Ducey, Emi Martínez, Lorna Mason, Grace Mitchell, Hugh McGowan, Gina Neff, Michelle Ronda, Craig Wilse, Elizabeth Wissinger, Raymond Costantino (and the staff of The Audre Lorde Project), and the anonymous reviewers and editors of The Qualitative Report for editorial input and advice as well as archival information and close readings to previous versions of this article. Both authors contributed equally to this article.

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