Minority Homosexuality: Culture Shock?
Special problems confront homosexuals who are members of racial or ethnic minorities in the United States. Homosexuality is not accepted by many ethnic groups, and yet the gay community does not easily accommodate expressions of ethnic identity. Minority homosexual youths have been found to experience greater psychological distress than nonminority homosexual youths (Diaz et al., 2001). Many end up feeling torn between the two communities (Nagel, 2003). As one gay Asian American put it, “While the Asian-American community supports my Asian identity, the gay community only supports my being a gay man; as a result I find it difficult to identify with either” (Chan, 1989).
Gay African Americans can find their situation particularly troubling, as they often have to deal with the heterosexism of the African American community and the racism of the homosexual and straight communities. In the African American community, the strong disapproval of homosexuality has prevented black politicians and church leaders from taking a firm stand in combating AIDS, even though black Americans are at higher risk than whites for contracting the disease (Quimby & Friedman, 1989).
Some progress is being made, however. Books such as In the Life, a Black Gay Anthology (Beam, 1986) and its sequel, Brother to Brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men (Hemphill, 1991), have raised the issue in public. Many feminist and lesbian anthologies, such as Home Girls: Black Feminist Anthology (B. Smith, 1983), and most lesbian and feminist journals include writings explicitly by minority lesbians. As we discussed earlier in this chapter, there have also been some recent magazines published that are dedicated to minority gays and lesbians.
It is also worth pointing out that research has found that although many African American lesbians report positive relationships and pleasant feelings about their sexual relationships, more than half also report feeling guilty about these relationships (Wyatt, 1998). This is consistent with the aforementioned research noting the prevalence of psychological distress in homosexual minorities.