Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

“It’s Like Our Own Little World”: Resilience as a Factor in Participating in the Ballroom Community Subculture

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
AIDS and Behavior Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

We are well into the third decade of the HIV epidemic. While strides have been made in HIV prevention, rates for African American men who have sex with men (AAMSM) and young AAMSM continue to increase—perhaps indicating that traditional deficit-approaches of HIV prevention are not effective for all populations. Following a recent call to investigate the resiliency of young gay men, this study identifies sources of resilience and strength within the House and Ball communities, a subculture comprised primarily of AAMSM. The mixed-methods design included survey data (N = 263) collected at community events, interviews with Ball attendees and focus group data with House members. Survey data indicate a relationship between participating in the House and Ball communities and seeking support, acceptance and entertainment. Qualitative data validate these findings and provide detail on motivations for AAMSM to participate and the perceived benefits of participation. Findings are discussed in relation to building strengths-based interventions, using concepts of resiliency including shamelessness, social creativity, social support and volunteerism.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV surveillance in men who have sex with men. 2010. Available from: www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources/slides/msm/slides/msm.pdf.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV surveillance in men who have sex with men. 2010. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/.

  3. Wilton L, Herbst J, Coury-Doniger P, Painter T, English G, Alvarez M, et al. Efficacy of an HIV/STI prevention intervention for black men who have sex with men: findings from the Many Men, Many Voices (3MV) project. AIDS Behav. 2009;13(3):532–44.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Murrill CS, Liu K, Guilin V, Colon ER, Dean L, Buckley LA, et al. HIV prevalence and associated risk behaviors in New York City’s house ball community. Am J Public Health. 2008;98(6):1074–80.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Chauncey G. Gay New York. New York, NY: BasicBooks, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc; 1994.

  6. Arnold EA, Bailey MM. Constructing home and family: how the ballroom community supports African American GLBTQ youth in the face of HIV/AIDS. J Gay Lesbian Soc Serv. 2009;21(2):171–88.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Sterling TR, Stanley RL, Thompson D. HIV-related tuberculosis in a transgender network–Baltimore, Maryland, and New York City area, 1998–2000. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2000;49(15):317–20.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Sanchez T, Finlayson T, Murrill CS, Guilin V, Dean L. Risk behaviors and psychosocial stressors in the New York City house ball community: A comparison of men and transgender women who have sex with men. AIDS and Behav 2010;14(2):351–58.

  9. Brody GH, Chen YF, Murry VM, Ge X, Simons RL, Gibbons FX, et al. Perceived discrimination and the adjustment of African American youths: a five-year longitudinal analysis with contextual moderation effects. Child Dev. 2006;77(5):1170–89.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Rosenbloom SR, Way N. Experiences of discrimination among African American, Asian American, and Latino adolescents in an urban school. Youth Soc. 2004;35(4):420–51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Thomas ON, Caldwell CH, Faison N, Jackson JS. Promoting academic achievement: the role of racial identity in buffering perceptions of teacher discrimination on academic achievement among African American and Caribbean black adolescents. J Educ Psychol. 2009;101(2):420–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Sellers RM, Copeland-Linder N, Martin PP, Lewis RL. Racial identity matters: the relationship between racial discrimination and psychological functioning in African American adolescents. J Res Adolesc. 2006;16(2):187–216.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Wong C, Weiss G, Ayala G, Kipke MD. Harassment, discrimination, violence and illicit drug use among YMSM. AIDS Educ Prev. 2010;22(10):286–98.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. McDavitt B, Iverson E, Kubicek K, Weiss G, Wong CF, Kipke MD. Strategies used by gay and bisexual young men to cope with heterosexism. J Gay Lesbian Soc Serv. 2008;20(4):354–79.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Kubicek K, McDavitt B, Weiss G, Iverson E, Kipke MD. God made me gay for a reason: young men who have sex with men’s resiliency in resolving internalized homophobia from religious sources. J Adolesc Res. 2009;24(5):601–33.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Wilson BDM, Miller RL. Strategies for managing heterosexism used among African American gay and bisexual men. J Black Psychol. 2002;28(4):371–91.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Choi KH, Han CS, Paul J, Ayala G. Strategies for managing racism and homophobia among U.S. ethnic and racial minority men who have sex with men. AIDS Educ Prev. 2011;23(2):145–58.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Zamboni BD, Crawford I. Minority stress and sexual problems among African-American gay and bisexual men. Arch Sex Behav. 2007;36(4):569–78.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Meyer IH. Minority stress and mental health in gay men. J Health Soc Behav. 1995;36(1):38–56.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Dumont M, Provost MA. Resilience in adolescents: protective role of social support, coping strategies, self-esteem, and social activities on experience of stress and depression. J Youth Adolesc. 1999;28(3):343–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Nunez R, Plancherel B, Bolognini M, Bettschart W. Mental health, stress and protective factors in early adolescence: longitudinal study over 3 years. Med Mind. 1992;7:37–62.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Roos PE, Cohen L. Sex roles and social support as moderators of life stress adjustment. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1987;52:576–85.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  23. Luthar SS. Resilience in development: a synthesis of research across five decades. In: Cicchetti D, Cohen DJ, editors. Developmental psychopathology: risk, disorder, and adaptation. New York: Wiley; 2006. p. 739–95.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Luthar SS, Cicchetti D, Becker B. The construct of resilience: a critical evaluation and guidelines for future work. Child Dev. 2000;71(3):543–62.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. Hebdige D. Subculture: the meaning of style. New York: Routledge; 1979.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  26. Wilkins AC. Wannabes, Goths, and Christians: the boundaries of sex, style and status. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 2008.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  27. Jansz J, Martens L. Gaming at a LAN event: the social context of playing video games. New Media Soc. 2005;7(3):333–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Westhaver R. ‘Coming out of your skin’: circuit parties, pleasure and the subject. Sexualities. 2005;8(3):347–74.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Mansergh G, Colfax GN, Marks G, Rader M, Guzman R, Buchbinder S. The Circuit Party Men’s Health survey: findings and implications for gay and bisexual men. Am J Public Health. 2001;91(6):953–8.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Joe KA, Chesney-Lind M. “Just every mother’s angel”: an analysis of gender and ethnic variations in youth gang membership. Gender Soc. 1995;9:408–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Thornton S. Club cultures: music, media, and subcultural capital. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press; 1996.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Hutson SR. The rave spiritual healing in modern western subcultures. Anthropol Q. 2000;73(1):35–49.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Herrick AL, Lim SH, Wei C, Smith H, Guadamuz T, Friedman MS, et al. Resilience as an untapped resource in behavioral intervention design for gay men. AIDS Behav. 2011;15(Suppl 1):S25–9.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Ford W, Weiss G, Kipke MD, Ritt-Olson A, Iverson E, Lopez D. The Healthy Young Men’s study: sampling methods for enrolling a cohort of young men who have sex with men. J Gay Lesbian Soc Serv. 2009;21(4):357–73.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Diaz RM, Ayala G, Bein E. Sexual risk as an outcome of social oppression: data from a probability sample of Latino gay men in three U.S. cities. Cult Divers Ethn Minor Psychol. 2004;10(3):255–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Ross MW, Simon Rosser BR. Measurement and correlates of internalized homophobia: a factor analytic study. J Clin Psychol. 1996;52(1):15–21.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  37. Wong CF, Kipke MD, Weiss G. Risk factors for alcohol use, frequent use, and binge drinking among young men who have sex with men. Addict Behav. 2008;33(8):1012–20.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Benjamini Y, Hochberg Y. Controlling the false discovery rate: a practical and powerful approach to multiple testing. J Royal Stat Soc. 1995;57(1):289–300.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Stall RD, Mills TC, Williamson J, Hart T, Greenwood GL, Paul JP, et al. Association of co-occurring psychosocial health problems and increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS among urban men who have sex with men. Am J Public Health. 2003;93(6):939–42.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Marsiglia FF, Kulis S, Hecht ML, Sills S. Ethnicity and ethnic identity as predictors of drug norms and drug use among preadolescents in the U.S. Southwest. Subst Use Misuse. 2004;39:1061–94.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. Wills TA, Murry VM, Brody GH, Gibbons FX, Gerrard M, Walker C, et al. Ethnic pride and self-control related to protective and risk factors: test of the theoretical model for the Strong African American Families Program. Health Psychol. 2007;26:50–9.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Tajfel H, Turner JC. The social identity theory of inter-group behavior. In: Worchel S, Austin W, editors. Psychology of intergroup relations. Chicago: Nelson-Hall; 1986.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Stark CB. All our kin: strategies for survival in a Black community. New York: Harper & Row; 1974.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Liebow E. Tally’s corner: a study of Negro streetcorner men. Boston: Little Brown; 1977.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Anderson E. A place on the corner. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1978.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Muraco A. Intentional families: fictive kin ties between cross-gender, different sexual orientation friends. J Marriage Fam. 2006;68:1313–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Nardi PM. Gay men’s friendships: invincible communities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1999.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Bontempo DE, D’Augelli AR. Effects of at-school victimization and sexual orientation on lesbian, gay, or bisexual youths’ health risk behavior. J Adolesc Health. 2002;30:364–74.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  49. Rosser BRS, Bockting WO, Ross MW, Miner MH, Coleman L. The relationship between homosexuality, internalized homo-negativity, and mental health in men who have sex with men. J Homosex. 2008;55(1):150–68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Rosser BRS, Horvath KJ, Hatfield LA, Peterson JL, Jacoby S, Stately A. Predictors of HIV disclosure to secondary partners and sexual risk behavior among a high-risk sample of HIV-positive MSM. AIDS Care. 2008;20(8):925–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Garofalo R, Mustanski BS, Donenberg GR. Parents know and parents matter: is it time to develop family-based HIV prevention programs for young men who have sex with men? J Adolesc Health. 2008;43:201–4.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. Kippax S, Crawford J, Connell B, Dowsett G, Watson L, Rodden P, et al. The importance of gay community in the prevention of HIV transmission: a study of Australian men who have sex with men: social aspects of the prevention of AIDS project. AIDS Council of NSW and Macquarie University; 1992.

  53. Ramirez-Valles J. The protective effects of community involvement for HIV risk behavior: a conceptual framework. Health Educ Res. 2002;17:389–403.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  54. Kubicek K, Beyer WH, McNeely M, Weiss G, Ultra Omni T, Kipke MD. Community-engaged research to identify House parent perspectives on support and risk within the House and Ball scene. J Sex Res. doi:10.1080/00224499.2011.637248.

Download references

Acknowledgments

This study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health (RO1 DA22968). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health. The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of the staff members who contributed to collection, management, analysis and review of these data: Veronica Abernathy, William Beyer, Teela Davis, Deandre Ellison, Judith Grout, Cody Haight, Nefe Iredia, Tattiya Kliengklom, Sylvia Lambrechts, Donna Luebbe, Griselda Monroy, Heather Reyes, Marcia Higareda, Luis Salazar, Sheree Schrager, Milton Smith, Flor Vindel, and Carolyn Wong. The authors would also like to acknowledge the insightful and practical commentary of the members of the P3 Advisory Board, the Mothers and Fathers from the: House of Allure, House of Chanel, House of Ebony, House of Escada, House of Etro Galliano, House of Herrera, House of Garcon, House of Gotti, House of Lauren van Cartier, House of Mizarahi, House of Miyake Mugler, House of Revlon, House of Rodeo, and the House of Ultra Omni. We are especially grateful to all of the parents, leaders and members of the Los Angeles House and Ball communities for their commitment and willingness to share their diverse and often profound personal experiences as well as welcoming us into a part of their lives.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Katrina Kubicek.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kubicek, K., McNeeley, M., Holloway, I.W. et al. “It’s Like Our Own Little World”: Resilience as a Factor in Participating in the Ballroom Community Subculture. AIDS Behav 17, 1524–1539 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-012-0205-2

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-012-0205-2

Keywords

Navigation