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Gay African-American youth face unique challenges coming out to families
Date:1/22/2013

y learn their child is gay and many African-American gay youths before coming out distance themselves from their parents. In his study, LaSala observed that many parents found that having a confidante with whom they could share emotions, helped them realize that their sons' sexual orientation was not caused by faulty parenting, and they risked losing their child if they could not accept his being gay.

Black parents may be less likely than whites to "mourn the loss of a normal life" for their gay sons, perhaps understanding that a normal life was less of a sure thing, according to LaSala, author of "Coming Out, Coming Home: Helping Families Adjust to a Gay or Lesbian Child" (Columbia University Press, 2010).

"I found that parents of African-American gay youth said, 'You have everything going against you as a black man. This is one more strike against you.' Conversely, parents of white gay youth stated, 'You have everything going for you and now this!'" LaSala said.

Gender role concerns are a repetitive theme for young African-American men and their families. One young man in the study described the African-American community as very strict when it comes to homosexuality. "It's a masculinity thing," he said.

LaSala points to existing research that calls upon black men to be hypermasculine, a trait characterized by the absence of overt emotions and the appearance of vulnerability, as well as a readiness to have sex at any time. When gay blacks realize they don't fit the stereotype, they often develop a sense of alienation, loneliness and anxiety, not knowing where they fit in.

LaSala recalls the words of a black single mother in the study who worried about gender expectations in her community: "You are told to be a man and being a man does not mean you sleep with other men," she said. "Being a man means you have a woman and you procreate and continue the family name."

LaSala calls for more research to identify t
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Contact: Steve Manas
smanas@ur.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 x612
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert

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