The Role of Age and Homonegativity in Racial or Ethnic Partner Preferences Among Australian Gay and Bisexual Men

Abstract

We investigated the racial or ethnic partner preferences among Australian gay and bisexual men (GBM) as part of a large study of sexual preferences among GBM, to identify whether racial bias was a factor in how GBM expressed their partner preferences. We surveyed 1853 Australian GBM about their partner preferences and preferred sex practices. We used logistic regression to identify whether factors such as age, gay social engagement, or men’s own ethnicity or race were associated with ethnic and racial partner preferences. Mean age was 34.8 years. Ethnic or racial background included: white or “Caucasian” (86.6%), Australian Aboriginal (2.7%), and Asian (6.6%). Mean attraction scores were highest for “Caucasian” men, and lowest for Aboriginal and Asian men. Under half (41.6%) were attracted to all racial or ethnic types; 7.7% were only attracted to “Caucasian” men. Being older and lower homonegativity scores were independently associated with finding all ethnic and racial types attractive. Being attracted only to “Caucasian” men was associated with younger age. Mental health was not associated with ethnic or racial partner preferences. Although men more commonly found most racial or ethnic types attractive, racial biases in partner selection were more evident among younger men, and among those who were less comfortable with their own sexuality. Addressing anti-gay stigma and broader exposure to gay community subcultures may be as important in countering racial bias.

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

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Abraham, I., Callander, D., Cheng, J., Daroya, E., Dhoot, S., Holt, M., et al. (2017). The psychic life of racism in gay men’s communities. Lanham: Lexington Books.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2017a). 2071.0-Census of population and housing: Reflecting Australia-stories from the census, 2016—Cultural diversity. Canberra: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2017b). 2071.0-Census of population and housing: Reflecting Australia-stories from the census, 2016—Aboriginal and torres strait islander population. Canberra: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bavinton, B. R., Duncan, D., Grierson, J., Zablotska, I. B., Down, I. A., Grulich, A. E., et al. (2016). The meaning of ‘regular partner’in HIV research among gay and bisexual men: implications of an Australian cross-sectional survey. AIDS and Behavior, 20, 1777–1784.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1991). The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. London: Penguin.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bérubé, A. (2001). How gay stays white and what kind of white it stays. In B. B. Rasmussen, E. Klinenberg, I. J. Nexica, & M. Wray (Eds.), The making and unmaking of whiteness (pp. 234–265). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Callander, D., Holt, M., & Newman, C. E. (2012). Just a preference: Racialised language in the sex-seeking profiles of gay and bisexual men. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 14, 1049–1063.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Callander, D., Newman, C. E., & Holt, M. (2015). Is sexual racism really racism? Distinguishing attitudes toward sexual racism and generic racism among gay and bisexual men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 1991–2000.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Caluya, G. (2006). The (gay) scene of racism: Face, shame and gay Asian males. Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association e-Journal, 2, 1–4.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Caluya, G. (2008). ‘The rice steamer’: Race, desire and affect in Sydney’s gay scene. Australian Geographer, 39, 283–292.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Davis, R. E., Couper, M. P., Janz, N. K., Caldwell, C. H., & Resnicow, K. (2009). Interviewer effects in public health surveys. Health Education Research, 25, 14–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. De Vaus, D. (2013). Surveys in social research. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Eastwick, P. W. (2013). Cultural influences on attraction. In J. A. Simpson & L. Campbell (Eds.), Handbook of close relationships (pp. 161–182). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Engel, R. J., & Schutt, R. K. (2012). The practice of research in social work. Los Angeles: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Giddens, A. (1986a). The constitution of society: Outline of the theory of structuration. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Giddens, A. (1986b). Action, subjectivity, and the constitution of meaning. Social Research, 53, 529–545.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Gonsiorek, J. C. (1988). Mental health issues of gay and lesbian adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health Care, 9, 114–122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Grov, C., Rendina, H. J., Ventuneac, A., & Parsons, J. T. (2016). Sexual behavior varies between same-race and different-race partnerships: A daily diary study of highly sexually active Black, Latino, and White gay and bisexual men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45(6), 1453–1462.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Han, C.-S. (2007). They don’t want to cruise your type: Gay men of colour and the racial politics of exclusion. Social Identities, 13, 51–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Han, C.-S. (2008). No fats, femmes, or Asians: The utility of critical race theory in examining the role of gay stock stories in the marginalization of gay Asian men. Contemporary Justice Review, 11, 11–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Herdt, G. (1999). Clinical ethnography and sexual culture. Annual Review of Sex Research, 10, 100–119.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Kalichman, S. C., & Rompa, D. (1995). Sexual sensation seeking and sexual compulsivity scales: Validity, and predicting HIV risk behavior. Journal of Personality Assessment, 65, 586–601.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Keeling, M. J., & Eames, K. T. (2005). Networks and epidemic models. Journal of the Royal Society, Interface, 2(4), 295–307.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Kong, T. S. K. (2007). Sexualizing Asian male bodies. In S. Seidman, N. Fischer, & C. Meeks (Eds.), Handbook of the new sexuality studies (pp. 90–95). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Kroenke, K., Spitzer, R. L., & Williams, J. B. (2001). The PHQ-9. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 16, 606–613.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Lick, D. J., & Johnson, K. L. (2015). Intersecting race and gender cues are associated with perceptions of gay men’s preferred sexual roles. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 1471–1481.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Mayfield, W. (2001). The development of an Internalized Homonegativity Inventory for gay men. Journal of Homosexuality, 41, 53–76.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 674–697.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Newcomb, M. E., & Mustanski, B. (2013). Racial differences in same-race partnering and the effects of sexual partnership characteristics on HIV risk in MSM: A prospective sexual diary study. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 62(3), 329.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Omi, M., & Winant, H. (2014). Racial formation in the United States. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Phillips, G., Birkett, M., Hammond, S., & Mustanski, B. (2016). Partner preference among men who have sex with men: Potential contribution to spread of HIV within minority populations. LGBT Health, 3(3), 225–232.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Plummer, M. D. (2007). Sexual racism in gay communities: Negotiating the ethnosexual marketplace. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from University of Washington. http://hdl.handle.net/1773/9181.

  33. Prestage, G., Brown, G., De Wit, J., Bavinton, B., Fairley, C., Maycock, B., et al. (2015). Understanding gay community subcultures: Implications for HIV prevention. AIDS and Behavior, 19, 2224–2233.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Prestage, G., Jin, F., Bavinton, B., Scott, S. A., & Hurley, M. (2013). Do differences in age between sexual partners affect sexual risk behaviour among Australian gay and bisexual men? Sexually Transmitted Infections, 89, 653–658.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Prestage, G., Kippax, S., Jin, F., Frankland, A., Imrie, J., Grulich, A. E., & Zablotska, I. (2009). Does age affect sexual behaviour among gay men in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia? AIDS Care, 21, 1098–1105.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Priest, N., Paradies, Y., Trenerry, B., Truong, M., Karlsen, S., & Kelly, Y. (2013). A systematic review of studies examining the relationship between reported racism and health and wellbeing for children and young people. Social Science and Medicine, 95, 115–127.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Riggs, D. (2013). Anti-Asian sentiment amongst a sample of White Australian men on Gaydar. Sex Roles, 68, 769–778.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Robinson, B. A. (2015). “Personal preference” as the new racism: Gay desire and racial cleansing in cyberspace. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 1, 317–330.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Rosario, M., Schrimshaw, E. W., Hunter, J., & Braun, L. (2006). Sexual identity development among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths: Consistency and change over time. Journal of Sex Research, 43, 46–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Rosenberg, M., Schooler, C., Schoenbach, C., & Rosenberg, F. (1995). Global self-esteem and specific self-esteem: Different concepts, different outcomes. American Sociological Review, 60, 141–156.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Russell, S. T., & Fish, J. N. (2016). Mental health in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 12, 465–487.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Simon, W., & Gagnon, J. H. (1999). Sexual scripts. In R. Parker & P. Aggleton (Eds.), Culture, society and sexuality: A reader (pp. 29–38). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Spitzer, R. L., Kroenke, K., Williams, J. B., & Löwe, B. (2006). A brief measure for assessing generalized anxiety disorder: The GAD-7. Archives of Internal Medicine, 166, 1092–1097.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Stember, C. H. (1976). Sexual racism: The emotional barrier to an integrated society. New York: Harper.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Stewart, B. D., von Hippel, W., & Radvansky, G. A. (2009). Age, race, and implicit prejudice: Using process dissociation to separate the underlying components. Psychological Science, 20, 164–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Zablotska, I. B., Holt, M., & Prestage, G. (2012). Changes in gay men’s participation in gay community life: Implications for HIV surveillance and research. AIDS and Behavior, 16, 669–675.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

This work was funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC). ARC Grant Number: DP150103739. The Kirby Institute and Centre for Social Research in Health receive funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Garrett Prestage.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Prestage, G., Mao, L., Philpot, S. et al. The Role of Age and Homonegativity in Racial or Ethnic Partner Preferences Among Australian Gay and Bisexual Men. Arch Sex Behav 48, 357–368 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-018-1308-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • Gay men
  • Sexuality
  • Sexual racism
  • Partner preference
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation