Sexual, ethnic and dual identity among young Asian and Pacific Islander (API) men who have sex with men (MSM)

Published: July 21, 2010

Sexual, ethnic and dual identity among young Asian and Pacific Islander (API) men who have sex with men (MSM)

L. Vu1, T. Do2, K.-H. Choi2

1Population Council, HIV and AIDS Program, Washington DC, United States, 2University of California at San Francisco, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, San Francisco, United States

Background: Little is known about factors associated with comfort with belonging to sexual and ethnic minority groups. Because such positive attitude can improve psychological wellbeing, self-esteem and self-efficacy that reduce one´s vulnerability to HIV infection, we sought to understand factors associated with having greater comfort with being API, MSM, and dual API/MSM identity.

Methods: From 1999 to 2002, 1027 young Asian and Pacific Islander men who have sex with men (APIMSM) aged 15-25 years living in San Diego and Seattle were interviewed using time-place sampling; 763 were eligible for this analysis. The API and sexual identity scales were assessed; each scale included 5 and 4 questions, respectively, asking about levels (4-point scale) of comfort with being API or bi/homosexual. Composite scores on these two scales were computed and dichotomized at the median for analysis.

Results: The sample had a mean age of 21, 14 years of education, 50% were immigrants, 75% spoke English primarily and 72% identified as gay. Those who worked full-time (AOR=1.6, p< 0.05); arrived in the US before age 10 (AOR=1.8, p< 0.05); identified as gay (AOR=2.0, p< 0.01); had greater social support (AOR=2.0, p< 0.001); and had greater comfort with being API (AOR=2.9, p< 0.001) were more likely to report greater comfort with being gay. Those who had greater comfort with being gay (AOR=2.9, p< 0.001); and spoke both English and native language (AOR=1.6, p< 0.05) were more comfortable with being API. Multinomial logistic regressions reveal that positive dual identity (comfort with being both API and MSM) is associated with the same socio-economic resources as seen in the sexual identity model, and is also associated with levels of acculturation.

Discussions: Sexual and ethnic identities are intertwined and affecting each other. Understandings of dual identity issues faced by APIMSM need to be contextualized in terms of APIMSM’s socio-economic resources as well as their level of acculturation into US society.

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