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Sexually Explicit Media Use Among 14–17-Year-Old Sexual Minority Males in the U.S.


Adolescent sexual minority males (ASMM; < 18 years old) do not typically receive sexual education that addresses male–male relationships from traditional sources (i.e., school, parents). Therefore, many rely on sexually explicit online media (SEOM; i.e., pornography) to find sexual health information. The current study describes SEOM use by ASMM in the U.S. and examined the association between exposure to condomless anal sex (CAS) in SEOM and engagement in CAS. In 2017, ASMM (N = 206; M age = 16, range: 14–17; 51% racial/ethnic minorities) from across the U.S. completed an online sexual health survey, including questions about SEOM use and sexual behaviors. Most (86%) reported that they had viewed SEOM. Engagement with SEOM was frequent (86% reported viewing ≥ one time per week) and lengthy (70% reported viewing for ≥ 15 min per session). Youth perceived that SEOM influenced how they, and other ASMM, think and behave sexually. Further, exposure to risky sexual behavior in SEOM appeared to be associated with youths’ dyadic sexual behavior. To support the healthy sexual development of ASMM, it is important to acknowledge the near-universal use of SEOM by ASMM, to identify ways to maximize its potential value, and to minimize potential harms.

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We would like to thank the participants and our research assistants, Jaime Ramirez and Benjamin Spencer. This work, K. Nelson, and N. Perry are supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (K23MH109346, T32MH078788). The content of this publication is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


This study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (K23MH109346, T32MH078788).

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Correspondence to Kimberly M. Nelson.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Nelson, K.M., Perry, N.S. & Carey, M.P. Sexually Explicit Media Use Among 14–17-Year-Old Sexual Minority Males in the U.S.. Arch Sex Behav 48, 2345–2355 (2019).

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  • Adolescent
  • Sexual minority males
  • Pornography
  • Sexual behavior
  • YMSM