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What We Know and Where We Go from here: A Review of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth Hookup Literature


In this paper, we acknowledge and critique the absence of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) experiences in the recent proliferation of scholarship on “hooking up” among youth (aged 16 to 24). Although previous research has documented that LGB youth hookup at high rates (up to three-quarters of LGB youth), and oftentimes more than heterosexuals, the most basic aspects of hookups (e.g., motivations, experiences, and outcomes) have not been comprehensively explored. This is pertinent because young adulthood, in particular, is a time when young people explore their sexuality. Most scholarship on hooking up has focused on White heterosexual college students, mostly due to sampling constraints and impediments, and so we are left with a critical gap in our knowledge about LGB youth—a population that is typically at higher risk for sexual, mental, and emotional health issues. We begin by reviewing the literature on hooking up among heterosexual young adults as organized by four themes: hookup definitions/frequencies, contexts, motivations, and outcomes. We do this to explicitly highlight and contrast what little is known about LGB youth hookups. We then provide a research agenda that projects how future researchers can advance this area of scholarship and begin to fill its gaps, while considering the hookup experiences of diverse LGB youth.

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Correspondence to Ryan J. Watson.

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Watson, R.J., Snapp, S. & Wang, S. What We Know and Where We Go from here: A Review of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth Hookup Literature. Sex Roles 77, 801–811 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0831-2

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  • Hookup culture
  • LGB hookups
  • Casual sex
  • MSM
  • Sexual initiation