Social Media as Social Capital of LGB Individuals in Hong Kong: Its Relations with Group Membership, Stigma, and Mental Well-Being

Abstract

Social media are found to facilitate social information exchange among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals who are subjected to social stigma. This study tested the protective role of LGB-tailored social media uses and gratifications in promoting LGB group membership, which we hypothesized to reduce LGB stigma and enhance mental health among LGB individuals in Hong Kong. Based on a sample of 233 Chinese LGB individuals in Hong Kong, structural equation modeling showed evidence for our hypotheses, χ 2(df=62)  = 88.20, GFI = 0.95, CFI = 0.98, NNFI = 0.98, SRMR = 0.07, RMSEA = 0.04. Community surveillance, identity expression, and emotional support on social media may promote mental health by instilling a sense of group membership and reducing stigma. Social media may build camaraderie and bolster resilience among LGB individuals that may otherwise be difficult in conservative regions.

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Acknowledgments

The study was supported by the Chinese University of Hong Kong I-CARE Program (Research Project No. R14-11). We wish to thank Chun Yam Chau and the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong for their support in this study; Harold T. Y. Chui and Michael S. Boroughs for their feedback on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Winnie W. S. Mak.

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Chong, E.S.K., Zhang, Y., Mak, W.W.S. et al. Social Media as Social Capital of LGB Individuals in Hong Kong: Its Relations with Group Membership, Stigma, and Mental Well-Being. Am J Community Psychol 55, 228–238 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-014-9699-2

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Keywords

  • Social media
  • Lesbian/gay/bisexual individuals
  • Hong Kong
  • Stigma
  • Structural equation modeling