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Sexuality, substance use and the scene: an analysis of “post-gay” in same-sex attracted young adults in Sydney, Australia

Lea, Toby, National Centre in HIV Social Research, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, UNSW

2011

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  • Title:
    Sexuality, substance use and the scene: an analysis of “post-gay” in same-sex attracted young adults in Sydney, Australia
  • Author/Creator/Curator: Lea, Toby, National Centre in HIV Social Research, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, UNSW
  • Subjects: Same-sex attracted; Sexuality; Substance use; Young people; Lesbian and gay scene
  • Resource type: Thesis
  • Type of thesis: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2011
  • Supervisor: De Wit, John, National Centre in HIV Social Research, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, UNSW; Reynolds, Robert, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations
  • Language: English
  • Print availability: T/2011/384 (Please speak to a staff member at the Library Help Zone)
  • Permissions: This work can be used in accordance with the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.
    Please see additional information at https://library.unsw.edu.au/copyright/for-researchers-and-creators/unsworks

  • Description: Improved social attitudes towards homosexuality have led some theorists to claim that Western societies are transitioning to a “post-gay” era, where same-sex attracted people no longer need to build an identity around sexual orientation and the lesbian and gay “scene” of bars and nightclubs. In a post-gay era, same-sex attracted people are thought to experience reduced minority stress about their sexuality. This thesis aimed to explore whether post-gay is applicable to same-sex attracted young adults’ experiences with sexual identity, the scene, and substance use. The study was a cross-sectional, online survey of 572 same-sex attracted young adults aged 18 to 25 years in Sydney. While most respondents had low levels of internalised homophobia, half had high perceptions of social stigma towards sexual minorities. In the preceding 12 months, half of respondents had experienced homophobic abuse. Forty percent of respondents had high levels of current psychological distress and 19% had thought about suicide in the preceding month. Internalised homophobia and perceived stigma were significantly associated with psychological distress and suicidal thoughts. While young men attended scene venues with similar frequency as other licensed venues, young women attended scene venues less frequently than other venues. Being around other same-sex attracted people and displaying same-sex intimacy without worrying were the most important factors encouraging scene attendance. In addition, respondents who had experienced homophobic abuse were more likely to rate the scene as important. In the preceding month, 78% of respondents had consumed alcohol and 34% had used illicit drugs. Homophobic physical abuse was marginally associated with recent drug use. Other minority stressors were not associated with substance use. Recent drug use and risky drinking were associated with attendance at both scene and other venues. However, drugs were more commonly used in scene venues than other venues. The persistence of negative social attitudes and homophobic abuse suggest that the transition to post-gay is progressing more unevenly than some theorists envisaged. Sexual identity and the scene continue to play an important role in the lives of many same-sex attracted young people in Sydney.

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