“Physical Sex Is Over for Now”: Impact of COVID-19 on the Well-Being and Sexual Health of Adolescent Sexual Minority Males in the U.S.

Kimberly M. Nelson*, Allegra R. Gordon, Steven A. John, Claire D. Stout, Katharyn Macapagal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study aimed to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing measures have impacted the well-being and sexual health among adolescent sexual minority males (ASMM) during the initial phase of physical distancing mandates in the U.S. Methods: From March 27, 2020, to May 8, 2020, U.S. ASMM (N = 151; aged 14–17 years) completed the online baseline survey of a sexual health intervention trial. COVID-19–related closed- and open-ended questions were included. A mixed-methods approach assessed COVID-19–related changes in well-being and sexual health by outness with an accepting guardian. Results: The majority (57%) of participants reported being worried about COVID-19. Almost all (91%) were physically distancing. Participants noted that COVID-19 changed school, home, work, and family life. Participants highlighted that COVID-19 reduced their ability to socialize and had a deleterious effect on their mental health. In the past 3 months, participants reported seeing sexual partners in person less often, masturbating and viewing pornography more often, and sexting and messaging on men-seeking-men websites/phone applications about the same amount. Many described being physically distanced from sexual partners, and some noted an increase in their use of virtual ways to connect with partners (e.g., video chatting). There were no differences by outness with an accepting guardian in quantitative or qualitative responses. Conclusions: These findings provide a snapshot of the initial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic among a convenience sample of U.S. ASMM and underscore the need to provide access to resources sensitive to their social, developmental, and sexual health needs during this crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)756-762
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • ASMM
  • Adolescents
  • COVID-19
  • Mental health
  • Sexual health
  • Sexual minority
  • YMSM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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