Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 1231–1239 | Cite as

Exploring the Roles of Race, Ethnicity, Nationality, and Skin Color in the Sexual Partner Choices of Bisexual Latino Men

  • Miguel Muñoz-Laboy
  • Nicolette Severson
Original Paper


Racial and ethnic differences are well-documented social factors shaping sexual interactions. However, these racial/ethnic dynamics have been mostly overlooked in the context of sexual fluidity, specifically for bisexual individuals. Furthermore, there is limited literature on how sexual objectification based on skin color and ethnicity, factors well documented to influence individual’s sexual partnering decision, might be different for male, female, and/or transgender partners of bisexual individuals. From 2009 to 2014, we conducted a mixed methods study examining how bisexual Latino men construct and participate in their sex markets. In the qualitative component of the study, we asked behaviorally bisexual Latino men (n = 148) how race/ethnicity, prejudice, stereotyping, and objectification intersected with their sexuality, specifically perceptions of their sexual experiences, decision making regarding sexual partners, and their reflection of their own race/ethnicity in their sexuality. We conducted a content analysis and identified three recurrent themes that are fully described in this article: (1) Bisexual Latino men objectify other men based on skin color, ethnicity, and race; (2) the race and ethnicity of women and transgender partners were not a dominant factor in sexual partnering decision making; and (3) sexual objectification based on skin color and ethnicity was a frequent, dominant experience throughout the sexual histories of our study participants. In summary, our findings suggest that bisexual Latino men participate in sex markets where race, ethnic, and nationality differences play a role in shaping men’s desires for other men as sexual partners and they themselves are objects of desire.


Latino Bisexual men Objectification Transgender Sexual Orientation 



Data for this analysis were generated from a study sponsored by the US Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: Gender, Power and Latino Men’s HIV Risk (Grant #1R01HD056948-01A2, Principal Investigator: M. Muñoz-Laboy). We would like to thank our research participants and the members of our research team. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the US Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, or the National Institutes of Health.


  1. Aubrey, J. S. (2006). Effects of sexually objectifying media on self-objectification and body surveillance in undergraduates: Results of a 2-year panel study. Journal of Communication, 56, 366–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barbour, R. S. (2001). Checklists for improving rigor in qualitative research: A case of the tail wagging the dog? British Medical Journal, 322, 1115–1117.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Barker-Benfield, G. J. (2004). The horrors of the half-known life: Male attitudes toward women and sexuality in 19th. Century America. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Berg, C. R. (2002). Latino images in film: Stereotypes, subversion, & resistance. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bloor, M. (1997). Techniques of validation in qualitative research: A critical commentary. In G. Miller & R. Dingwall (Eds.), Context and method in qualitative research (pp. 37–50). London, UK: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Breines, J. G., Crocker, J., & Garcia, J. A. (2008). Self-objectification and well-being in women’s daily lives. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 583–598.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Brooks, S. (2010). Hypersexualization and the dark body: Race and inequality among black and Latina women in the exotic dance industry. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 7, 70–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carlat, D. J., Camargo, C. A., & Herzog, D. B. (1997). Eating disorders in males: A report on 135 patients. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 1127–1132.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Collins, P. H. (2005). Black sexual politics: African Americans, gender, and the new racism. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Collins, P. H. (2014). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Decena, C. U. (2011). Tacit subjects: Belonging and same-sex desire among Dominican immigrant men. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Diaz, R. M., Ayala, G., Bein, E., Henne, J., & Marin, B. V. (2001). The impact of homophobia, poverty, and racism on the mental health of gay and bisexual Latino men: Findings from 3 US cities. American Journal of Public Health, 91, 927–932.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (2004). Aversive racism. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 36, 1–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dworkin, S. L., & Wachs, F. L. (2009). Body panic: Gender, health, and the selling of fitness. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. (1997). Objectification theory. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Frith, H., & Gleeson, K. (2004). Clothing and embodiment: Men managing body image and appearance. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 5, 40–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fukuyama, M., & Ferguson, A. (2000). Lesbian gay, and bisexual people of color: Understanding cultural complexity and managing multiple oppressions. In R. Perez, K. DeBord, & K. Bieschke (Eds.), Handbook of counseling and psychotherapy with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients (pp. 81–106). Washington: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Garcia, J., Muñoz-Laboy, M., Parker, R., & Wilson, P. A. (2014). Sex markets and sexual opportunity structures of behaviorally bisexual Latino men in the urban metropolis of New York City. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43, 597–606.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Gettelman, T. E., & Thompson, J. K. (1993). Actual differences and stereotypical perceptions in body image and eating disturbance: A comparison of male and female heterosexual and homosexual samples. Sex Roles, 29, 545–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. González-López, G. (2005). Erotic journeys: Mexican immigrants and their sex lives. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  21. Grabe, S., Routledge, C., Cook, A., Andersen, C., & Arndt, J. (2005). In defense of the body: The effect of mortality salience on female body objectification. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29, 33–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hakim, C. (2010). Erotic capital. European Sociological Review, 26, 499–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Han, C.-S. (2007). They don’t want to cruise your type: Gay men of color and the racial politics of exclusion. Social Identities, 13, 51–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Harper, B., & Tiggemann, M. (2008). The effect of thin ideal media images on women’s self-objectification, mood, and body image. Sex Roles, 58, 649–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hatzenbuehler, M. L., Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Erickson, S. J. (2008). Minority stress predictors of HIV risk behavior, substance use, and depressive symptoms: Results from a prospective study of bereaved gay men. Health Psychology, 27, 455–462.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Hebl, M. R., King, E. B., & Lin, J. (2004). The swimsuit becomes us all: Ethnicity, gender, and vulnerability to self-objectification. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 1322–1331.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Heffernan, K. (1994). Sexual orientation as a factor in risk for binge eating and bulimia nervosa: A review. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 16, 335–347.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Hegarty, P., & Pratto, F. (2004). The differences that norms make: Empiricism, social constructionism, and the interpretation of group differences. Sex Roles, 50, 445–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hirsch, J. S., Muñoz-Laboy, M., Nyhus, C. M., Yount, K. M., & Bauermeister, J. A. (2009). They “miss more than anything their normal life back home”: Masculinity and extramarital sex among Mexican migrants in Atlanta. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 41, 23–32.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. Hooks, B. (1992). Eating the other: Desire and resistance. In B. Hooks (Ed.), Black looks: Race and representation (p. 21–40; 366–280). Boston, MA: South End Press.Google Scholar
  31. Jones, C. P. (2000). Levels of racism: A theoretic framework and a gardener’s tale. American Journal of Public Health, 90, 1212–1215.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. Kiple, K. F., & King, V. H. (2003). Another dimension to the Black Diaspora: Diet, disease and racism. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Kozak, M., Frankenhauser, H., & Roberts, T. A. (2009). Objects of desire: Objectification as a function of male sexual orientation. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 10, 225–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Laumann, E. O., Ellingson, S., Mahay, J., Paik, A., & Youm, Y. (2005). The sexual organization of the city. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  35. Lorde, A. (2012). Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. New York: Crossing Press.Google Scholar
  36. Martinez, O., Dodge, B., Reece, M., Schnarrs, P. W., Rhodes, S. D., Goncalves, G., … Fortenberry, J. D. (2011). Sexual health and life experiences: Voices from behaviorally bisexual Latino men in the midwestern USA. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 13, 1073–1089.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Martins, Y., Tiggemann, M., & Kirkbride, A. (2007). Those speedos become them: The role of self-objectification in gay and heterosexual men’s body image. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 634–647.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. McClintock, A. (1995). Imperial leather: Race, gender and sexuality in the colonial contest. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Moradi, B., & Huang, Y. (2008). Objectification theory and psychology of women: A decade of advances and future directions. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 32, 377–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Muñoz-Laboy, M., Garcia, J., Perry, A., Wilson, P. A., & Parker, R. G. (2015). Heteronormativity and sexual partnering among bisexual Latino men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 895–902.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Muñoz-Laboy, M., Hirsch, J. S., & Quispe-Lazaro, A. (2009). Loneliness as a sexual risk factor for male Mexican migrant workers. American Journal of Public Health, 99, 802–810.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  42. Nagel, J. (2003). Race, ethnicity, and sexuality: Intimate intersections, forbidden frontiers. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Nagel, J. (2006). Ethnicity, sexuality and globalization. Theory, Culture & Society, 23, 545–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pratto, F., Sidanius, J., & Levin, S. (2006). Social dominance theory and the dynamics of intergroup relations: Taking stock and looking forward. European Review of Social Psychology, 17, 271–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ramirez-Valles, J., Fergus, S., Reisen, C. A., Poppen, P. J., & Zea, M. C. (2005). Confronting stigma: Community involvement and psychological well-being among HIV-positive Latino gay men. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 27(1), 101–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Raymond, H. F., & McFarland, W. (2009). Racial mixing and HIV risk among men who have sex with men. AIDS and Behavior, 13, 630–637.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Said, E. (2004). Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  48. Sanchez, D. T., & Kiefer, A. K. (2007). Body concerns in and out of the bedroom: Implications for sexual pleasure and problems. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, 808–820.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Siever, M. D. (1996). The perils of sexual objectification: Sexual orientation, gender, and socioculturally acquired vulnerability to body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. In C. J. Alexander (Ed.), Gay and lesbian mental health: A sourcebook for practitioners (pp. 223–247). Philadelphia, PA: Haworth Press.Google Scholar
  50. Stokes, J. P., McKirnan, D., & Burzette, R. G. (1993). Sexual behavior, condom use, disclosure of sexuality, and stability of sexual orientation in bisexual men. Journal of Sex Research, 30, 203–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Strong, S. M., Williamson, D. A., Netemeyer, R. G., & Geer, J. H. (2000). Eating disorder symptoms and concerns about body differ as a function of gender and sexual orientation. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, 240–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Vasquez del Aguila, E. (2013). Being a man in a transnational world: The masculinity and sexuality of migration. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  53. Wilson, P. A., Valera, P., Ventuneac, A., Balan, I., Rowe, M., & Carballo-Diéguez, A. (2009). Race-based sexual stereotyping and sexual partnering among men who use the internet to identify other men for bareback sex. Journal of Sex Research, 46, 399–413.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Work, College of Public HealthTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations