Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 597–608 | Cite as

The Role of Sexually Explicit Material in the Sexual Development of Same-Sex-Attracted Black Adolescent Males

  • Renata Arrington-SandersEmail author
  • Gary W. Harper
  • Anthony Morgan
  • Adedotun Ogunbajo
  • Maria Trent
  • J. Dennis Fortenberry
Original Paper


Sexually explicit material (SEM) (including Internet, video, and print) may play a key role in the lives of Black same-sex sexually active youth by providing the only information to learn about sexual development. There is limited school- and/or family-based sex education to serve as models for sexual behaviors for Black youth. We describe the role SEM plays in the sexual development of a sample of Black same-sex attracted (SSA) young adolescent males ages 15–19. Adolescents recruited from clinics, social networking sites, and through snowball sampling were invited to participate in a 90-min, semi-structured qualitative interview. Most participants described using SEM prior to their first same-sex sexual experience. Participants described using SEM primarily for sexual development, including learning about sexual organs and function, the mechanics of same-gender sex, and to negotiate one’s sexual identity. Secondary functions were to determine readiness for sex; to learn about sexual performance, including understanding sexual roles and responsibilities (e.g., “top” or “bottom”); to introduce sexual performance scripts; and to develop models for how sex should feel (e.g., pleasure and pain). Youth also described engaging in sexual behaviors (including condom non-use and/or swallowing ejaculate) that were modeled on SEM. Comprehensive sexuality education programs should be designed to address the unmet needs of young, Black SSA men, with explicit focus on sexual roles and behaviors that may be inaccurately portrayed and/or involve sexual risk-taking (such as unprotected anal intercourse and swallowing ejaculate) in SEM. This work also calls for development of Internet-based HIV/STI prevention strategies targeting young Black SSA men who may be accessing SEM.


Sexually explicit material Gay men Sexual orientation Sexual identity Adolescents 



The authors acknowledge the contribution of the participants who shared their experiences. The National Institute of Child Health Development (K23 NICHD HD074470-02) and the ASTDA Development Award supported the present study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renata Arrington-Sanders
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gary W. Harper
    • 2
  • Anthony Morgan
    • 1
  • Adedotun Ogunbajo
    • 1
  • Maria Trent
    • 1
  • J. Dennis Fortenberry
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of General Pediatrics & Adolescent MedicineJohns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Behavior and Health EducationUniversity of Michigan School of Public HealthAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Indiana UniversityIndianapolisUSA

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