Sexual Stereotypes Ascribed to Black Men Who Have Sex with Men: An Intersectional Analysis.

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Archives of sexual behavior








Adult; African Americans; European Continental Ancestry Group; Heterosexuality; Homosexuality, Male; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Racism; Sexual Partners; Socioeconomic Factors; Stereotyping; Unsafe Sex; Young Adult


Sexual stereotypes may adversely affect the health of Black men who have sex with men (MSM). Greater understanding of the nature and nuances of these stereotypes is needed. This online, survey-based study used an inductive, intersectional approach to characterize the sexual stereotypes ascribed to Black MSM by the U.S. general public, their distinctiveness from those ascribed to Black men and MSM in general, and their relative prototypicality as compared to dominant subgroups. Members of the public, recruited in 2014-2015, were randomly assigned to survey conditions that varied systematically by race (Black, White, or unspecified) and sexual orientation (gay, heterosexual, or unspecified) of a designated social group. Participants (n = 285) reported stereotypes of their assigned group that they perceived to exist in U.S. culture in an open-response format. Cross-condition comparisons revealed that, overall, Black gay male stereotypes were non-prototypical of Black men or gay men. Rather, stereotypes of Black men were more similar to Black heterosexual men and stereotypes of gay men were more similar to White gay men. Nonetheless, 11 of the 15 most frequently reported Black gay male stereotypes overlapped with stereotypes of Black men (e.g., large penis), gay men (e.g., deviant), or both (e.g., promiscuous). Four stereotypes were unique relative to both Black men and gay men: down low, diseased, loud, and dirty. Findings suggest that Black MSM face multiple derogatory sexual stereotypes, several of which are group-specific. These stereotypes are consistent with cultural (mis)representations of Black MSM and suggest a need for more accurate portrayals of existing sexual diversity within this group.


This is an open access PubMed Central article.

Peer Reviewed


Open Access


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