Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) experience minority stressors that impact their mental health, substance use, and sexual risk behaviors. Internalized homophobia (IH) and perceived stigma represent two of these minority stressors, and there has been limited research empirically validating measures of these constructs. We validated measures of IH and perceived stigma with a sample of 450 YMSM (mean age = 18.9) and a sample of 370 YMSM (mean age = 22.9). Results from exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses supported modifications to the IH and perceived stigma scales, ultimately revealing a three factor and one factor structure, respectively. Convergent and discriminant validity were examined utilizing correlations between IH, perceived stigma, and other variables related to minority stress (e.g., victimization). We evaluated predictive validity by examining relations with mental health, substance use, and risky sexual behaviors measured 12-months from baseline. There were mixed findings for IH, with subscales varying in their relations to mental health, drinking, and sexual risk variables. Perceived stigma was not related to mental health or substance use, but was associated with greater prevalence of STIs. Findings supported the use of these modified scales with YMSM and highlight the need for further measurement studies.
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The project described herein was supported by two grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse: R01DA025548 (PIs: R. Garofalo, B. Mustanski) and R03DA035704 (PI: M. Newcomb). Jae A. Puckett was supported by a National Research Service Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (1F32DA038557).
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.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Appendix 1: Measure of Internalized Homophobia
Instructions: We are interested in how you feel about the following statements. Read each statement carefully and indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements.
Response options: 1 = Strongly Disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Agree, 4 = Strongly Agree
Sometimes I wish I were not gay.
Most of the time, I am glad to be gay.
Sometimes I think that if I were straight, I would probably be happier.
If there were a pill to make me straight I would take it.
I have tried to stop being attracted to men.
Sometimes I wish I could become more sexually attracted to women.
I feel that being gay is a shortcoming for me.
Sometimes I feel ashamed of my sexual orientation.
Appendix 2: Measure of Perceived Stigma
Instructions: In this section we want to know what you think about OTHER people’s attitudes and beliefs. Using the response scale, please answer according to your point of view, feelings and experiences.
Response options: 1 = Strongly Disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Agree, 4 = Strongly Agree
Many people believe that gay men have psychological problems.
Many people do not see gay men as real men.
Most families would be disappointed to have a gay son.
Many people think that gay men have HIV and will die of AIDS.
Many people do not accept same-sex male couples.
Many people believe that gay men should not raise children.
Many people believe that gay men should not hug, hold hands, or kiss in public.
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Puckett, J.A., Newcomb, M.E., Ryan, D.T. et al. Internalized Homophobia and Perceived Stigma: a Validation Study of Stigma Measures in a Sample of Young Men who Have Sex with Men. Sex Res Soc Policy 14, 1–16 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-016-0258-5