Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men MSM regularly experience homophobic discrimination and stigma.
While some research has examined intragroup stigma, this research has focused mostly on HIV-related stigma. Intragroup stigma may have a unique influence on sexual risk-taking behaviors as it occurs between sexual partners. Online sexual networking venues provide a unique opportunity to examine this type of stigma.
The purpose of this study is to examine the presence and patterns of various types of intragroup stigma represented in Men Seeking Men Craigslist sex. Two of data were collected: self-reported characteristics of the authors and reported biases in the. Chi-square tests were used to examine patterns of biases across cities and author characteristics. Biases were rarely reported in the. Patterns in bias reporting occurred across cities and author characteristics.
Despite an overall low reporting of biases inthese findings suggest that there is a need to address intragroup stigma within MSM communities. The representation of biases and intragroup stigma on Craigslist may result from internalized stigma among MSM while also perpetuating further internalization of stigma for men who read the sex. Understanding patterns in the perpetuation of intragroup stigma can help to better target messages aimed at making cultural and behavioral shifts in the perpetration of intragroup stigma within MSM communities.
Experiencing discrimination and stigma may have negative physical and mental health consequences for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men MSM. Research examining how discrimination among MSM is experienced has addressed two pervasive and often interacting forms of stigma: discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation [ 12 ] and discrimination based on actual or perceived HIV status [ 3 - 5 ]. Experiences of homophobic or HIV-related stigma have been linked with increased suicide ideation [ 6 - 8 ], depression [ 6 - 9 ], substance use [ 10 - 13 ], and HIV risk [ 1012 - 15 ] among MSM.
Intragroup stigma may result from either the internalization of homophobic stigma among MSM or the heterogeneity of the MSM community. Communities of MSM contain a range of individual characteristics, such as race, age, HIV serostatus, etc, which could act as the basis for the generation of stigma within the MSM community.
Intragroup stigma among MSM may also exist based on other characteristics, such as sexual orientation, race, class, gender identity, and body size; however, these other forms of possible stigma have received less research attention.
Intragroup stigma among MSM is important to examine because it may have a different influence on health than intergroup stigma. A useful source for examining intragroup stigma among MSM and between sexual partners is through Internet-based sex-seeking websites and apps. Research suggests that MSM who have met their partners online report more sex partners [ 23242627 ], a higher prevalence of condomless anal intercourse [ 242728 ], and a higher prevalence of sexually transmitted infections STIs [ 232429 - 31 ].
The Internet may also have some protective factors for sexual risk-taking, such as increased negotiation around sex [ 33 - 37 ].
The online environment allows men seeking sex to negotiate location and type of sex and enables disclosure of information, including serostatus, prior to meeting. In a study by Grov et al, men who met their most recent sex partner online were more likely to disclose their HIV status compared with men who had met their most recent partner at other public places [ 25 ]. One reason for this increased negotiation may be the anonymity of meeting online partners.
However, the anonymity, invisibility, and lack of eye contact inherent in online interactions may also result in online disinhibition, allowing those seeking sex online to say things that they would not say face-to-face [ 38 - 40 ], including discriminatory or stigmatizing statements.
In this study, we explore whether the authors of sex report biases in their as a measure of the presence of stigma internal to the MSM community. Understanding the presence and forms of internal stigma in sex has the potential to inform messages aimed at risk prevention and stigma reduction among those seeking sex in online forums. No Craigslist site exists for San Juan, so data were not collected.
Data were extracted from on the Men Seeking Men section of the Craigslist sites from each of the cities. Data collection was performed consecutively over 11 days October 8, through October 18, with data collected from 1 city per day. After 2 data analysts developed a codebook with a list of variables for data extraction, they coded the first 50 for testing.
Once the codebook was tested and finalized, a data analyst used the codebook to extract the data from the remaining. that were not looking for sex eg, selling sex toys or where couples created an ad together were excluded. This allowed for the correct identification of author characteristics.
The total sample size included sex per city. No identifying information was collected, and there was no interaction between the data collector and the subjects.
We collected two types of variables: self-reported characteristics of the ad authors and reported biases in the. Domains not mentioned were coded as such in the data set. Since some characteristics were present in very fewwere combined when analyzing the data. Biases were defined as an ad in which the author specifically reported not wanting a characteristic in a sex partner or an ad that used stigmatizing language. When a bias was present, it was entered into the codebook as a 1, and when it was not present it was entered as a 0. Data were analyzed using chi-square tests to determine variation in the demographic characteristics and biases across the 11 cities and across the demographic characteristics.
Fisher exact tests were used when a demographic characteristic or bias was present fewer than 5 times. The alpha denoting ificance was.
The self-reported characteristics of the ad authors are described in Multimedia Appendix 1. The majority of the had minimal information about author characteristics. Self-reports of HIV status were also low, with Overall, there were very few explicit reports of biases.
There were also more biases against physical appearance than most other biases with 4. No contained reports of bias against height, transgender people, or HIV status. Out of 11 cities, 9 contained with ageism; no ageist were present in New York and Washington. Among containing ageism, ageist bias was most present in Los Angeles with 5. Variations in biases by author characteristics are presented in Table 4.
Although more than Ageism also varied based on DDF status. Although Men who identified as homosexual reported no bias against feminine men.
Among men who reported a DDF status, Among men who do not report a DDF status, only These findings provide insight into the representation of biases and intragroup stigma among MSM using Craigslist to seek sex with other men. Overall, very few biases were reported.
This could be indicative of the unique formatting of Craigslist. Since there is no prescribed form for authors to complete, we found great variation in how were presented.
In most cases, included very little information, resulting in limited reports of both author characteristics and biases. However, biases that were present still showed patterns and variation. DDF bias was the most pervasive.
Another important finding from these data is that when men reported sexual orientation, most men identified as straight or bisexual; bias against feminine gender expression was only present in by these authors. This bias was only present in 1. research has identified a subgroup of non-gay-identified men on Craigslist who seek sex from other non-gay-identified men who they may believe will present as more stereotypically masculine [ 45 - 47 ].
The frequency of non-gay-identified men on Craigslist may be a result of the increased anonymity and invisibility of the online environment; Craigslist sex may be a more private way for non-gay-identified men to seek sex with men.
The representation of bias against feminine gender expression may be reflective of the endorsement of hegemonic masculinity and stigma against men who deviate from expressing their masculinity in a way that is considered normative. Therefore, the endorsement of hegemonic masculinity exclusively by non-gay-identified MSM may indicate internalized stigma; this subgroup of men do not identify as gay, but their behaviors conflict with hegemonic masculinities because they are seeking sex with other men.
While this representation of stigma may be an indication of the internalization of stigma, the bias against feminine gender expression may also be explained by a phenomenon where non-gay-identified men seek other men who are also non-gay-identified who may be believed to present as more stereotypically masculine because of a belief that there is a shared desire for privacy and nondisclosure about same-sex encounters [ 46 ].
Regardless of the reason behind why this subgroup presents it, this stated bias endorses hegemonic masculinity and stigmatizes those ad readers whose gender expression does not fit the stereotypical ideals of masculinity. The presence of stigma in online sex may contribute to poor mental health and increased sexual risk for those who are seeking sex online.
Men who have characteristics that are described in as undesirable may experience a fear of rejection, loneliness, and reduced self-esteem. These men may also perceive themselves as having less bargaining power when negotiating sex, possibly increasing sexual risk; research has examined how homophobic discrimination may influence behaviors associated with higher risk for HIV, including nondisclosure of HIV status [ 55152 ] and condomless anal intercourse [ 11 - 1453 - 55 ]. These biases may also contribute to internalized stigma among readers of the sex [ 5 ]. research has found that internalized HIV stigma the most prevalent form of stigma in this study may lead to poor mental health outcomes, including depression and reduced self-esteem [ 3 - 556 - 58 ].
Internalized HIV stigma can also increase sexual risk-taking behaviors, including nondisclosure of HIV status to a sex partner [ 565960 ] and increased drug use [ 60 ]. The ad authors represented in this study are limited to men who are actively seeking sex partners online.
Men who seek sex partners on Craigslist differ in characteristics from men seeking partners offline [ 256162 ] and may differ from men seeking partners through other online or app-based venues. Therefore, the cannot be generalized to all MSM. Furthermore, this study analyzed Craigslist sites from 11 cities with the highest HIV prevalence in the United States; thus they may not be generalizable to cities with low HIV prevalence or to nonurban areas.
We are also unable to verify the authenticity of the information posted on theincluding the identities of the ad authors. Research indicates that online dating profiles and sex may misrepresent MSM demographics [ 63 ] resulting in possible misreporting of data for this study.
However, despite any possible misrepresentations, we were still able to examine the representation of stigma within that are on Craigslist.
Despite an overall low reporting of biases inthese findings provide insight into patterns of stigma represented on Craigslist Men Seeking Men sex. These findings suggest that there is a need to address intragroup stigma within MSM communities; it is important to focus on HIV-related stigma among MSM, but it is also useful to understand other forms of intragroup stigma and how they may influence mental health outcomes and sexual risk-taking behaviors, especially for MSM who are seeking sex online.
Conflicts of Interest: None declared. National Center for Biotechnology InformationU. Published online Feb 5. Author information Article notes Copyright and information Disclaimer. Corresponding author. Corresponding Author: Tamar Goldenberg ude. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Background Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men MSM regularly experience homophobic discrimination and stigma.
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