TORONTO — A new study released by researchers at the University of Toronto finds that gay men’s risky sexual behavior can be linked to feeling sexually undesirable.
The study’s results appeared in the December issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior and also found that many of these men are at risk of developing psychological problems as a consequence of their low self-esteem.
Adam Isaiah Green, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, interviewed dozens of gay men in the city to determine what qualities they found more sexually desirable than others.
“I found that young, white, middle-class men are considered much more sexually desirable than men who are racial minorities, over 40 and poor,” said Green. “I also learned that for gay men, being considered sexually undesirable can have serious health consequences ranging from psychological issues to risky sexual behavior.”
Researchers claim that the study is among the first to examine the link between sexual behavior, attitudes and mental health. Its conclusions, that undesirable gay men face stigmatization, avoidance and outright rejection, backs up evidence that such treatment by members of the community can lead to depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse. In some case, those who deemed themselves “undesirable” skipped out on conversations about safe-sex practices with their partners and were more likely to not use condoms during sex with a more attractive partner.
“We tend to devalue sexual life as something that is extracurricular and frivolous, but this research shows a significant link between sexual desirability and health,” Green said. “Men with low levels of ‘erotic capital’ are systematically marginalized, which can take a real toll both physically and psychologically.”
We’d love your input
Q-Notes would like to speak to gay men in the Carolinas who feel they are “undesirable.” For an upcoming issue devoted solely to the topic of sex, we’d like to delve into the issues that surround internet sex, anonymous sex and how gay male culture impacts self-esteem and health. If you’d like to speak with one of our writers, you can contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can contact us anonymously if you wish and your confidentiality will be respected. Thank you.