Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 1241–1254 | Cite as

Rethinking Sexual Initiation: Pathways to Identity Formation Among Gay and Bisexual Mexican Male Youth

Original Paper


The topic of same-sex sexual initiation has generally remained understudied in the literature on sexual identity formation among sexual minority youth. This article analyzes the narratives of same-sex sexual initiation provided by 76 gay and bisexual Mexican immigrant men who participated in interviews for the Trayectos Study, an ethnographic study of sexuality and HIV risk. These participants were raised in a variety of locations throughout Mexico, where they also realized their same-sex attraction and initiated their sexual lives with men. We argue that Mexican male same-sex sexuality is characterized by three distinct patterns of sexual initiation—one heavily-based on gender roles, one based on homosociality, and one based on object choice—which inform the men’s interpretations regarding sexual roles, partner preferences, and sexual behaviors. We analyzed the social factors and forms of cultural/sexual socialization that lead sexual minority youth specifically to each of these three patterns of sexual initiation. Our findings confirm the importance of studying same-sex sexual initiation as a topic in its own right, particularly as a tool to gain a greater understanding of the diversity of same-sex sexual experiences and sexual identities within and among ethnic/cultural groups.


Homosexuality Sexual initiation Latinos Hispanics Mexico Youth 



This research was supported by Award Number R01HD042919 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health. Other members of the research team who contributed to the collection and analysis of data are Jaweer Brown, Victoria González-Rivera, Carlos Hermosillo, Vicente Mendivil, and Stephen Scott. We thank Steven Epstein for providing helpful comments on drafts of this article. We are also grateful to the Editor as well as two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyCalifornia State UniversityFullertonUSA

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