AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 51–64 | Cite as

Homonegativity, Religiosity, and the Intersecting Identities of Young Black Men Who Have Sex with Men

  • Katherine QuinnEmail author
  • Julia Dickson-Gomez
Original Paper


Young, Black men who have sex with men (YBMSM) are disproportionately affected by HIV. Homonegativity, or the stigma associated with homosexuality, may be an important social factor influencing racial disparities in HIV. This research, conducted using an intersectional framework, examines experiences of homonegativity among YBMSM with a particular emphasis on the influence of the Black Church. We conducted 30 semi-structured interviews with YBMSM ages 16–24. Interview transcripts were analyzed in MAXQDA using thematic content analysis, guided by principles of grounded theory and constant comparative method. The Black Church is an integral aspect of YBMSM’s identity, history, family, and community life. As such, the Church’s construction of homosexuality dominated throughout YBMSM’s lives. The expectations of masculinity facing YBMSM emphasize expectations of physical and sexual dominance, which are viewed as incompatible with homosexuality. Participants describe complex decision-making around whether to disclose their sexuality and to whom, and weigh the consequences of disclosure and non-disclosure. For many YBMSM, their multiple, intersecting identities significantly influenced their experiences with homonegativity and their decisions about disclosing their sexual orientation. Findings lend support for the need to develop community-, family-, and church-based stigma reduction interventions that address homonegativity among YBMSM.


Stigma Religion Homonegativity Black MSM Adolescents 



This research was funded in part by the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Individual Predoctoral Fellows (F31 1MH03023). A sincere thank you to Drs. Sheri Johnson, Jeffrey A. Kelly, Jill Owczarzak, and Staci Young for the guidance, feedback, and oversight of this project. Most importantly, we are sincerely indebted to the young men who participated in this project and bravely entrusted us to relay their stories and experiences.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Medical College of WisconsinCenter for AIDS Intervention ResearchMilwaukeeUSA

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