Gay men who are not considered sexually desirable are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour according to new research out of the University of Toronto. They may also develop psychological problems as a consequence of feeling undesirable.
Adam Isaiah Green, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the university, interviewed dozens of gay men in Toronto to determine what qualities made some men more sexually desirable than others, and what the consequences of being undesirable might be on mental and physical health.
“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 behaviour.”
The study – among the first to examine the link between sex and mental health – found that undesirable gay men face stigmatisation, avoidance and outright rejection, which can lead to depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse.
It also highlighted cases whereby undesirable gay men will forego safe-sex discussion and, in some cases, condom use, in the context of 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,” said Green.
“Men with low levels of ‘erotic capital’ are systematically marginalised, which can take a real toll both physically and psychologically.”
The study was published in the current edition of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.