Maintaining a heterosexual identity: sexual meanings among a sample of heterosexually indentified men who have sex with men

Published: August 2, 2010

Heterosexually identified men who have sex with men are an understudied group for whom there is little knowledge of the social and sexual meanings of their same-sex encounters. This study employed qualitative methods to better understand the maintenance of a heterosexual identity in the face of discordant sexual behaviors. Open-ended, in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 heterosexually identified men (M age, 39.85 years) who reported at least one sexual encounter with a male in the previous year but not more than one sexual encounter per month with a male. Of the participants, 61.9% were African American/black, 28.6% were currently married, 71.4% reported current substance use, and 57.1% were HIV infected. Participants did not consider their same-sex activities as discrepant with their heterosexual identity as these activities were coded as infrequent, recreational, accidental, or an economic necessity.

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