Conceptions of hypermasculinity and mental health states in gay and bisexual men

Beth N. Fischgrund*, Perry N. Halkitis, Richard A. Carroll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research shows that gay and bisexual men, in comparison to heterosexual men, have increased susceptibility to HIV and other negative health conditions, including mental health problems. To understand these disparities, it is important to examine all the risk factors for this population, particularly the gay hypermasculine norms that are theorized to differ from traditional masculine ideology. The present study examined the relation between masculinity and mental health problems in an analysis of the demographic variables (i.e., age, race or ethnicity, and HIV status), mental health symptoms (i.e., depression, anxiety, and hostility), and conceptions of masculinity (i.e., defined as physical appearance, as social behavior, and as sexual behavior) in a sample of 311 gay and bisexual men recruited from New York City gyms. The study found that participants had elevated levels of depression compared to nonclinical norms; men who did not know their HIV status also reported the highest levels of depression. Approximately half of participants adhered to one of the hypermasculine norms, and adherence was uniform across age groups, racial or ethnic groups, and men of different HIV statuses. Significant associations were found among the three mental health symptom clusters and conceptions of masculinity defined as a social behavior and as a sexual behavior. The policy implications of this research indicate that altering the social and sexual masculine norms within the gay male community are an integral part of decreasing the mental health burden of gay and bisexual men, which has been shown to be associated with HIV risky behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-135
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Men and Masculinity
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012

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Keywords

  • Age differences
  • Gay and bisexual men
  • HIV status
  • Health disparities
  • Hypermasculinity
  • Masculinity
  • Mental health
  • Physical appearance
  • Racial & ethnic differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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