Racial/ethnic differences in self-presentation among men who have sex with men

Stream: Identities and Relationships among MSM
Date: Friday, 1 April 2016
Time: 11.15 am – 1.00 pm


Introduction: This study examined the racial/ethnic differences in self-presentation among men who have sex with men (MSM) using smartphone apps and websites for sexual partnering. Self-presentation on sexual partnering apps/websites may be reflective of ways in which men perceive they will successfully attract other men. Observed differences in self-presentation may be attributed to cultural norms but could also be due to experiences of discrimination and sexual racism. Method: Using principles of time-space sampling, 996 personal advertisements of MSM in New York City were collected from the nine most popular apps/websites used by men to meet partners. Content analysis of profiles examined communication of personality, physical and sexual characteristics of self and partner sought. Results: In comparison with White MSM, Black MSM communicated significantly less profile words on average (105.19 for White MSM (95% CI 91.72-118.66), 81.79 for Black MSM (95% CI 67.92-95.65)). Black MSM posted significantly more unlocked profile photos in comparison with White MSM (p<0.001). White MSM were more likely to mention seeking safer sex/sex with condoms (24.6% of white MSM) than all other groups (8.3%-15.4%). Black MSM were more likely to mention alcohol (40.7% vs. 7.2%-29.8% for all other groups) and marijuana use (14.8% vs. 1.1%-9.6%) than all other groups. Conclusion: Observed differences in self-presentation may be due to stereotypes and social norms within sexual minority communities. MSM of colour may adapt self-presentation to increase success on apps and websites. The possible implications on health and well-being for MSM of colour should be noted.


Michael Cecilio (Presenter), Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Michael Cecilio is a public health professional and a recent graduate of the Master of Public Health program at Columbia University (New York, USA). He has supported various research studies including an analysis of MSM and their use of sexual partnering technology, as well as qualitative research on LGB health and wellbeing across generations. Michael is a recent recruit of the NSW Public Health Training Program at NSW Health, and has previous experience in HIV prevention work at the AIDS Committee of Ottawa (Canada). In addition to an MPH, Michael has a Master of International Studies from University of Sydney.

Eric Schrimshaw, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Eric W. Schrimshaw, Ph.D., is a social/health psychologist and associate professor of public health at Columbia University. His research over the past 15 years has been in the area of LGB health, with a particular emphasis on HIV risk behaviors of MSM populations. In particular, he has an interest in the role of technology in changing how MSM meet and communicate with potential sexual partners and how this may contribute to sexual risk behaviors. His research has been supported by multiple NIH grants and has resulted in the publication of over 50 journal articles addressing LGB health and well-being.