Gay / Bisexual Male Youth Suicide Problems
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To: The Table of Content - The Changing Social Construction of Western Male Homosexuality and Worsening Youth Suicide Problems

By Pierre J. Tremblay & Richard Ramsay
Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary.

An updated interim paper prepared in support of a Poster Presentaton with the same name at the 2004 CASP (Canadian Association For Suicide Prevention) Conference held in Edmonton, Alberta. Original Paper.

Gender Non-Conformity in Males and Community Problems

In the recent history of homosexuality in the western world, an association has been reported between high levels of femininity and males deemed to be homosexual or gay (Ellis, 1906; Purkiss, 1997; Chauncey, 1994; Minton and Mattson, 1998; Nilsson, 1998). The acquired perception was that males who desired the "female role" when relating sexually with other males (being passive: permitting a penis to penetrate oneself) were "homosexual," or "inverts" because they were assuming the sex role of the opposite sex. These males were also believed to have a degraded status on the basis of a highly sexist ideology. Anything "female," and especially the sexual role of being penetrated by a penis, was a status infinitely inferior to that of most "men" who had a long history of proclaiming and enforcing their supremacy status vis-à-vis females.

By the middle of the 20th century, however, there was a significant exodus of homosexually active males - the males who had been sexually dominant with sexually passive males - from the world of male homosexuality existing in European societies and in societies with population primarily derived from European countries. This recent socially constructed world of male homosexuality therefore produced a predictable outcome. Males who are generally the most feminine - said to be more "like women" because of often detectable "similar to women" behavioural indicators - became overrepresented in the world of male homosexuality, this being the opposite of the situation existing in the first half of the 20th century.

The current status of males describing themselves to be homosexually oriented was recently reported by Lippa (2000) in his "Study 1" of 287 men who were students in four large sexuality classes at California State University, Fullerton. Forty-one percent of the sample was White, 22 percent Hispanic, 21 percent Asian, and 16 percent were in other categories. Their median age was 22 years. For analysis, these males were divided into four groups so that the Effect Size for mean scores on different measures of Masculinity-Femininity could be determined. The groups were: Gay (n = 6: 2.3%) vs. Not Gay (n = 259: 97.7%), Gay/Bisexual (n = 14: 5.3%) versus Heterosexual (n = 250: 94.7%), Mostly Attracted to Men (n = 29: 10.6%) versus Mostly Not Attracted to Men (n = 255: 89.4%), and Any Attraction to Men (n = 54: 19%) versus No Attraction to Men (n = 230: 81%). The results of this study, and of the two additional studies that compared results from samples of non-random gay and bisexual males (and lesbian / bisexual females) with heterosexual male (and female) university students are summarised:

"The current research [3 studies] demonstrated that the relationship between sexual orientation and GD measures [measures for gender-related occupational and hobby preferences] were consistently very strong [Cohen's d statistic]. The relationships between sexual orientation and self-ascribed masculinity and femininity [3 measures used for each determination] tended to be somewhat weaker, but still frequently strong and significant. Finally, the relationships between sexual orientation and I and E [Note 11] were weaker still, but at times significant.

The findings reported in Studies 2 and 3 on 'homosexual-heterosexual diagnosticity' measures underscore the linkage and gender-related occupational and hobby preferences. The degree to which men's occupational and hobby preferences are gay- versus heterosexual-typical correlated almost perfectly with the degree to which those same preferences are female- versus male-typical…

It is important to note that these results do not imply that gay men are 'like women' or that lesbians are 'like men.' Rather, the mean GD scores presented in Studies 1, 2, and 3 suggest that gay men and lesbian women are intermediate between heterosexual men and women. That is, gay men are more like women than heterosexual men, but they are not 'like women,'… Furthermore, it is important to note that the mean scores presented in Studies 1, 2, and 3 are just that - mean scores. For all individual difference measures, there was considerable variation with the sexual orientation groups, as well as significant differences between groups" (Lippa, 2000: 922-3. Relevant Information: Note 11-12).

Lippa's explanation for "mean scores" is important in his research indicating that homosexually oriented males are more likely to have "occupation and hobby interest" socially deemed to be "feminine." The emphasis, however, that these results do not imply that these males are more "like women" may not at all reflect the real social world in which most males seem to acquire a perception of what it means to be "a man" as noted by Sinn (1997: 117-8):
"The common admonishment directed at males to "Be a man!" implies that there are a set of norms governing acceptable male behavior. Moreover, the admonishment implies that males have some degree of choice in responding to these norms. The degree of endorsement given to particular male-role norms has been referred to as an individual’s ‘‘masculinity ideology" … A person has a traditional masculinity ideology to the extent that he or she believes men should try to attain high status, be physically tough, and not behave in a feminine way."
Adult males generally have a very good idea of what "masculine" or "feminine" mean in their society. Therefore, when they are asked to rate themselves on a "masculine-feminine" scale, or on items easily recognised to be "masculine" or "feminine," "feminine" ratings would likely be coded by them as 'saying' or acknowledging that one is more "like a female," or what "a female" is said / believed to be in one's society or culture. In other words, being "more like a female" is, for males, essentially being "gender nonconformable," and this is the label given to the phenomenon by Bell et al. (1981). In their study, it was reported that "gender nonconformity" was the most significant difference between predominantly homosexual males and predominantly heterosexual males. An illustration of this result is available from their data on the "self-ratings" by male subjects (for their childhood to the age of 17 years) using one of their measures for gender nonconformity: the self-rating "feminine to masculine" 7-point Likert scale (Table 10a). Although the ratings on the scale overlaps for homosexual and bisexual males, there are major differences between the two male groups, especially with respect to high femininity self-classifications that would greatly contribute to producing a significant difference in the mean scores. Twenty-eight percent (26.2%) of homosexual males placed themselves in the three highest levels of femininity, compared to only 1.4 percent of heterosexual males, and the latter only placed themselves in the least feminine of the three categories. At the "masculine" end of the scale, 67.3 percent of heterosexual males gave themselves a rating of 5 or 6, while only 18.1% of homosexual males gave themselves the same rating.
Table 10a - Femininity-Masculinity Self-Ratings for Childhood to Age 17
Homosexual / Heterosexual Males - Bell et al. (1981) Data
F to M Ratings /
Male Groups
Homosexual Males
N = 573 : Percent
Heterosexual Males
N = 284 : Percent

F to M Ratings &
Suicidality /
Male Groups
Feminine: 0 to 3
Masculine: 4 to 6
Homosexual Males
N = 573 : Percent
57.4% (329/573)
42.6% (244/573)
Heterosexual Males
N = 284 : Percent
8.4% (24/284)
91.5% (260/284)
Data Calculations from Data Set (Tremblay & Ramsay, 2002) Femininity to Masculinity Scale: 0 to 6

Means: Homosexual (4.83) & Heterosexual (3.26) Males: Cohen's d = 1.36, p < .000, r = .56 (Note 12)

The Bell et al. (1981) Masculinity-Femininity scale produced a Cohen's d value of 1.36 (White heterosexual males vs. White homosexual males) that is within the range of the Cohen's d values produced by Lippa (2002) for a number of Masculine-Feminine determinations. A similar Cohen's d value (1.23) was produced for Black males in the Bell et al. (1981) sample (Note 12). The homosexual male distribution on the self-rating M-F scale (Table 10a) is similar to the M-F distribution from the Bem (1974, 1981) Sex Role Classification used by Remafedi et al. (1991) in their study of 137 gay and bisexual male youth, aged 14 to 21 years (Table 10b). For this study, the incidences of suicide attempts associated with the Bem Sex Role categories are used to determine the Risk Ratios for attempting suicide by gay and bisexual male youth. The non "masculine" GB (gay and bisexual) males, representing 82% of the sample (the feminine, androgynous, and undifferentiated categories), are 3.0 times more likely to be suicide attempters than their "masculine" counterparts: Risk Ratio = 1.1<3.2<9.8. This is basically the same result reported by Remafedi et al. (1991) on the basis of multivariate analysis for the risk of a suicide attempt based on "feminine gender roles" (p. 873). The greatest difference in risk for a suicide attempt, however, is between "masculine" and "feminine" GB males (RR = 1.4<4.5<14.0). The odds for a "suicide attempt" by a feminine GB males is 7.8 times greater than it is for "masculine" GB males (Note 13).

Table 10b - BEM: Femininity / Masculinity Categories & Suicidality
Gay And Bisexual Male Youth: Age 14 - 21 Years
Remafedi, Farrow & Deisher (1991)
Femininity / Masculinity
Androgynous: 31%
Undifferentiated: 26%
% of Males
in Category
31% + 26% = 57%
(42/137) / (35/137)
Attempted Suicide
Percent Incidence
Androgynous = 26%, Undifferentiated = 34%
(23/77 = 30% ) 1
(3/28) 2, 3
Attempted Suicide
Percent Incidence
Feminine = 48%, Androgynous = 26%, Undifferentiated = 34%
(38/108 = 35.2% )
(3/28) 4
Bem Sex Role Inventory: Feminine: High F, Low M scores- Masculine: Low F, High M scores

Androgynous High F & M scores - Undifferentiated: Low F & M scores

Greater risk (95% Confidence Intervals) for attempting suicide: 1. "Feminine" Category vs. this Category - RR = .98<1.6<2.7 (c2 = 3.3, p = .068); 2. "Feminine" Category vs. this Category - RR = 1.4<4.5<14.0 (c2 = 9.8, p = .002); "Androgynous / Undifferentiated" Category vs. this Category - RR = .91<2.8<8.6 (c2 = 4.0, p = .044); 4. "Feminine / Androgynous / Undifferentiated" Category vs. this Category - RR = 1.1<3.3<9.9 (c2 = 6.3, p = .012). See Note 13 for Odds Ratios.

Table 10c - Femininity / Masculinity Self-Rating Categories & 
Suicidality of White Predominantly Homosexual Males: First Time 
Suicide Attempts to Age 20 and After Age 20 - Bell et al. (1981) Data
Femininity / Masculinity
0 - 1
Feminine / Masculine
2 - 3
4 - 6
% of Males
in Category
Attempted Suicide
10.9% 1
4.9% 2, 3
Attempted Suicide
To Age 20
4.9% 4
Attempted Suicide
After Age 20
10.6% 5
Calculations from Data Set (Tremblay & Ramsay, 2002): Femininity to Masculinity Scale: 0 to 6

Greater risk (95% Confidence Intervals) for attempting suicide: 1. "0-1" F-M Category vs. this Category - RR = 1.1<2.0<3.6 (c2 = 4.8, p = .027); 2. "0-1" F-M Category vs. this Category - RR = 2.1<4.4<9.3 (c2 = 17.4, p < .0000); 3. "2-3" F-M Category vs. this Category - RR = 1.2<2.2<4.2 (c2 = 6.3, p = .012); 4. "0-3" F-M Category vs. this Category - RR = 1.4<2.6<4.8 (c2 = 10.1, p = .001); 5. "0-3" F-M Category vs. this Category - RR = .42<.71<1.2 (c2 = 1.6, p = .20). See Note 14 for Odds Ratios.

Harry (1983) reported an association between a combined suicidality measure (considering suicide / attempting suicide) and early childhood male gender nonconformity in a reanalysis of the Bell et al. (1981) sample data, but relevant information was not produced only for attempting suicide. A further analysis of the Bell et al. (1981) data (a 1969 sample of mostly homosexual males, mean age = 36 years) was therefore carried out by Tremblay and Ramsay (2002) and it produced the results given in Table 10c and Note 14. The division between the self-ratings of "3" and "4" was chosen because it separates homosexual males into two groups: those reporting being more masculine than feminine from childhood to the age of 17 years (4 to 6), and those reporting either an equal amounts of femininity and masculinity or greater amounts of femininity than masculinity (0 to 3). The exploration of "first time suicide attempts" associations with varying degrees of Masculinity-Femininity ("0 to 6" self-ratings) produced results for "first time suicide attempts" to the age of 20 years that are similar those for the Remafedi et al. (1991) study of males ranging in age from 14 to 21 years (Table 10b). These results are somewhat comparable because most suicide attempts in the two studies occurred during adolescence. In both studies, the most feminine males have the highest rate for attempting suicide. Males not highly masculine, but also not highly feminine, have lower suicide attempt incidences, and the most masculine males have the lowest incidence. After adolescence (or after the age of 20 years), the suicidality situation changes, at least for homosexual males in the past given that the Bell et al. (1981) study sample was taken in 1969. The risk for attempting suicide by the more feminine males decreased, but it increases for the more masculine homosexual males, so that both were at about equal risk for attempting suicide in adulthood. During adolescence, however, it is (and has been) the more feminine homosexual males - the ones deemed to be most gender nonconformable - who have been at a very high risk for suicidality, this result being consonant with the results of a longitudinal study of children / adolescents. Gender nonconformity documented in pre-school ("behaviors that are counter to typical gender norms, such as aggressive behavior in females and dependence in males") was one of the "early gender-specific risks for suicidal ideation" by the age of 15 years as determined via logistic regression analysis (Reinherz, et al. 1995: 599).

Green (1987) reported the association of childhood femininity with adult males being homosexually oriented in the book Sissy Boy Syndrome. The 44 "feminine" boys studied over many years became young adult men with a 75% probability of being gay or bisexual, as rated by the Kinsey 0-6 fantasy / behaviour scale. A control group of 35 "conventionally 'masculine' boys" had only one young adult male in the bisexual category (p. 99-101). It should not be assumed, however, that all "feminine" boys become homosexual or bisexual given that 25% of feminine boys in the Green (1987) study were heterosexual. On the basis of the Bell et al. (1981) data on masculinity-femininity self-ratings for their childhood and adolescence (Table 10a), and assuming that predominantly homosexual males form about 10 percent of the population, the "0" to "3" category would therefore have 43.2 percent homosexual males and 56.8 percent heterosexual males. Homosexual males, however, form 100% of the two highest "feminine" categories: "0" and "1".

Feminine boys have a history of being abused in sexists societies and their reported higher risk for suicide problems would be, in part, induced or exacerbated by the ongoing abuse they have been subjected to since early childhood. Although Eric Rofes (1995) is describing his own childhood below, he is also describing a variation of the childhood and adolescent lives of numerous gay males I have met over the years.

"I knew I was queer when I was a small child. My voice was gentle and sweet. I avoided sports and all roughness. I played with the girls... Heresy was a boy who cried a lot when he got hurt..., a boy who couldn't throw a baseball..., a boy putting on girls' clothing. Heresy was me. As I got older, and fully entered the society of children, I met the key enforcer of social roles among children... He was... like an evil spirit entering different bodies in different occasions... In any group of three of more boys, the bully was present.

I know a lot about bullies. I know they have a specific social function: they define the limits of acceptable conduct, appearance, and activities for children. They enforce rigid expectations. They are masters of the art of humiliation and technicians of the science of terrorism. They wreaked havoc on my entire childhood. To this day, their handprints, like a slap on the face, remain stark and defined on my soul...

As I entered adolescence... I saw other sissy boys become neighborhood toughs. They formed gangs of bullies that tormented us... Watching the powerless take on the trappings of power, I would shake my head and withdraw into deeper isolation... The abuse I suffered in American public schools, from kindergarten to my senior year of high school, created deep psychic scars with which I have struggled throughout my lifetime.

These same scars are shared by many others. We will never forget that we were tortured and publicly humiliated because we refused to be real boys, acted 'girlish,' or were simply different. This was the price we paid for being queer." (Rofes, 1995: 79-80)

The operating principle underlying this wholesale abuse of males with any degree of visible / detectable femininity is a perception acquired by very young boys as the result of careful social teaching / indoctrination. Most of them, in fact, are still growing up with perceptions reflecting the historical male-imposed status of females as inferiors to males, and the outcome was summarised by Mandel (1996) in the doctoral study abstract. Via 200 interviews with adolescent girls and boys in American middle and junior high schools, the study explored some important gender and sexual identity issues.
"First, this study suggests that students' assumptions about heterosexuality perpetuate a norm of heterosexuality and constrain adolescent gender identity. Not only do students believe that a heterosexual identity is central to their gender identity, but stereotypic notions about femininity and masculinity largely inform their beliefs about who they are and who they cannot be... Students' descriptions of masculinity are also stereotypic and are largely defined by an anti-feminine norm. Unlike the ways in which girls can and do value masculinity, boys do not and cannot value femininity.

Second, this study asserts that there is a social and sexual curriculum in the culture of middle and junior high schools by which girls and boys construct their gender identities. This heterosexist curriculum, it is argued, perpetuates gender role stereotypes, limits gender identities, empowers masculine boys and disempowers girls, less masculine boys, lesbians, and gay males. The most pervasive indicators of this curriculum - due to heterosexism - are illustrated in the amount of gender disrespect, peer sexual harassment, homophobic language, and the highly (hetero)sexualized nature of adolescent gender relations in these middle and junior high schools" (Mandel, 1996).

When "boys do not and cannot value femininity," they have basically acquired the age-old perceptions many human groups acquired of other human groups firmly believed to be one's inferiors. Therefore, the many boys who still often say something like "Yuk! Girls! I'm not playing with them!" are essentially replicating what the carefully educated white highly racist boys of not long ago would have said: "Yuk! Niggers! I'm not playing with them!" In other words, contemporary boys are still learning to have an intense hatred of femininity (females) which is evidenced by their hatred for - and abuse of - boys deemed to be "like females," meaning that they actually hate humans who would be 100 percent females. The sexism that is related to anti-homosexuality attitudes is rarely noted, but Human Rights Watch (2001) did this in the Hatred in their Hallways study. "The Relationship Between Sexism and Homophobia" section begins with:
"Sexism and homophobia are related. Several of the male students we interviewed described peer pressure to treat their female counterparts in a demeaning manner, implicitly asserting the view that boys are superior to girls. One of the easiest ways for boys to demean girls was to treat girls as sexual objects… An integral component of antigay harassment is attacking lesbians for "daring or wanting to be like a man" and gay men for being effeminate. In their crudest forms, these attacks are based on the constructions of sexuality as males literally dominating females… Gay boys who were not "out" to their peers and who participated in team sports reported being constantly subjected to abusive locker room banter that focused on sexually objectifying the girls in the school and trashing as "queer" any student who was different. 'I felt suicidal, I tried too hard to be perfect, to participate in sports and to hide. My teammates would always talk about how they could tell if someone was a `faggot' just from the way they walked. They never suspected me - but I heard it [the slurs] every day,' explained Luke G., a high school football player…"
Human Rights Watch (2001) also present information indicating that it is the most feminine males, the "gender nonconforming youth," who are abused the most.
"'There are the ones that can pass and those that can't,' Michael Ferrera notes. 'Those that can't are unsafe everywhere. They're always worried about making sure they have someone with them.'

'I didn't get called faggot that much because I was playing soccer,' Andre T. observed. But a boy who is, in Gabriel D.'s words, 'a little femme kid,' often finds himself targeted with unrelenting abuse. Recognizing this dynamic, Lavonn R. told us, 'I tried to act butch, more macho, but I guess I was doing something wrong because it never worked.'

He concluded, 'If you're a flamboyant person, you're pretty much damned to hell. I can't think of any gay flamboyant person who has his education.'"

Rofes (1995) recognised that, with respect to the current use of the word "gay" as an epithet by adolescents, "the links to youthful misogyny are evident" (p. 81). Suzanne Pharr, in her 1988 book, "Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism," describes some outcomes of this abuse continuing into adulthood:
"What is unhealthy - and sometimes a source of stress and sickness so great it can lead to suicide - is homophobia, that societal disease that places such negative messages, condemnation, and violence on gay men and lesbians that we have to struggle throughout our lives for self-esteem... It is not by chance that when children approach puberty and increased sexual awareness they begin to taunt each other by calling these names: "queer," "faggot," "pervert." ...It is at puberty that the full force of society's pressure to conform to heterosexuality and prepare for marriage is brought to bear. Children know what we have taught them, and we have given clear messages that those who deviate from standard expectations are to be made to get back in line. The best controlling tactic at puberty is to be treated as an outsider, to be ostracized at a time when it feels most vital to be accepted. Those who are different must be made to suffer loss. It is also at puberty that misogyny begins to be more apparent..." (Pharr, 1993: 1-3).
It is not, however, only in schools and in peer groups that adolescent males with detectable feminine attributes have been abused more than males without these attributes, or males who effectively hide their femininity. Homosexual males are more likely to report having been assaulted by parents than heterosexual males, and effeminate homosexually active adolescent gay and bisexual males have been the most at risk for such assaults (Harry, 1989). Homosexually oriented adolescents are also at risk for not being tolerated and even being rejected in their families (Pilkington and D'Augelli, 1995; Telljohann and Price, 1993). One study of 221 GLB youth (lifetime suicide attempt incidence = 40.3%) reported family problems to be in second place, after the youth's self-perception, with respect to significant associations with the risk for a suicide attempt (Proctor and Groze, 1994). Nicholas and Howard (2001) reported that support from grandmother, mother, and father during adolescence was significantly less for gay suicide attempters (n = 22) compared to gay nonattempters (n = 83), and that the attempters has experienced more verbal violence from their mothers.

Modern gay identified adult males often have a history of childhood gender nonconformity and, as older adolescents, young adults, and older males, their manifestation of feminine attributes have been more pronounced or visible, on average, than they are for heterosexual males. This is an observation based on my more than 20 years of communicating with gay males and soliciting information related to their lives, and Rofes (1995: 81-1) reports similar observations:

"...[I]nterviews with gay men of all classes, races, and educational backgrounds reveal a strikingly large percentage who acknowledge a sissy past when asked. This is true of gay men who exemplify American ideals of masculinity, as well as hypermasculine men in the gay ghetto. Some sissy boys grow up to be nontraditional adult men - androgynous, 'effeminate,' transgendered, or simply gentle - while others transform themselves into traditional versions of masculinity... Some gay men have talked and written candidly about their struggles as sissy boy" [with many example of this fact of life supplied].
Rofes (1995) was most troubled about the "sissy boy" reality being ignored not only in mainstream society but also by gay and lesbian individuals advocating for an end to the wholesale abuse of their adolescent counterparts. In this respect, he emphasised that "to say sissies = gay male youth is considered offensive by many in the gay community" and suggested "that little attention has focused on the plight of the sissy [because] gay male activists and educators alike carry unresolved feelings about their own sissy pasts... These barriers must be examined, challenged, and overcome because - regardless of future sexual orientation - sissy boys have become contemporary youth's primary exposure to gay identity" (p. 81).

This outcome, however, may not occur in the immediate future, for reasons imbedded in parts of Bradley Boney's 1996 paper on the "sissy," himself having influence in this category:

"In August of 1993, the following appeared in the Denver Post: 'Sissy boy Johnny Roy Hobson runs with his arms up and his toes turned in. He prances, minces and pouts. In short, he's so annoyingly effeminate you just want to slap him' (Dillard-Rosen, 1993). Although the critical reception of Bonin-Rodriguez's work has been overwhelmingly positive, these three sentences from Sandra Dillard-Rosen's review of Talk of the Town represent the type of sissy-bashing that proceeds from the dangerous impulse to erase 'negative stereotypes' from queer representation without first interrogating how and why they were first constructed as "negative."

Sedgwick (1993) takes up this issue in an essay titled, 'How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay: The War on Effeminate Boys,' which she demonstrates how the effeminate boy has been positioned as the 'haunting abject' of both gay, and the larger hegemonic culture. The latter is disturbing enough, but the discomfort with which so many gay men approach the sissy boy continues to perpetuate a discourse of self-loathing. This is the case even though studies have found that a large number of adult gay men at least perceive the sissy boy to be a part of their history. Sedgwick explains how this effeminaphobia is coupled with the legitimate gay project of unraveling gender and sexuality to debunk the notion that anyone 'who desires a man must by definition be feminine [and vice versa]' (p. 157). In light of such studies, she concludes that

'the eclipse of the effeminate boy from adult gay discourse would represent more than a damaging theoretical gap; it would represent a mode of annihilating homophobic, gynephobic, and pedophobic hatred internalized and made central to gay-affirmative analysis. The effeminate boy would come to function as the discrediting open secret of many politicized adult gay men' (p. 158) (Boney, 1996: 54-55. Referencing changed by author.)

Many gay males with "sissy" histories have been living out the demands of not being who they were / are, for approval reasons, often because they want others gay males to desire them sexually. Boney (1996: 55-6) reports on this all too common reality as he has lived it, but he continues to struggle with the repression / denial of his inner "feminine" self:
"Today, I have been surprisingly successful at erasing the sissy from my own body. I have employed the technology of the gym with amazing results. I drive a motorcycle and buy clunky, construction-worker-type boots in an attempt to push the limits of "masculinity." I still live in constant vacillation between championing my inner sissy child (for he so often comes shining through) and hiding him from view in order to increase my currency in the gay market. As much as I constantly check it, I am sometimes guilty of the sissy self-loathing I rail against. So I ask myself, what is so discomforting about a nellie boy? If, as Dillard-Rosen states, Bonin-Rodriguez produces an effeminate character "that some gays may find stereotypical and offensive," what is the basis of that offense?

The discomfort of both Dillard-Rosen and the gay men for whom she claims to speak is, I believe, fundamentally misogynistic. Our culture continues to view the feminine as less-than and ultimately valueless. We deal the best we can with the 'natural' feminine attributes of women, but we do not wish effeminacy on our sons. I don't know how to explain to a fabulously effeminate gay man that his corporeal style is an offensive stereotype. In the end, I don't know how to explain that to myself."

This rabidly misogynous anti-sissy situation (sissy-bashing, that easily becomes self-bashing so that one has access to sexual partners) in North American gay communities has also been reported by others, such as J. Michael Bailey, a researcher of homosexuality. In his summary of his research available on his web pages he notes that:
"Consistent with past research, we have found that gay men are strongly prejudiced against feminine men as sex partners. ...[O]ur research [Bailey et al., 1997] would suggest that feminine gay men, in particular, may be most likely to suffer rejection from other gay people. In addition to their mistreatment by heterosexual people, we might expect that they would have more adjustment problems than most" (Bailey, 2000).
The expression "adjustment problems" may be an understatement, and there could be something quite savage, self-destructive, and even suicidal about a community that has apparently been waging a war against an attribute that is so much a part of its members' individual identities. This community attribute may also be especially deadly for the more feminine gay male adolescents who venture into its midst, especially after they have spent a lifetime being abused in the mainstream world because of their detectable "feminine" attributes. In the final analysis, what Boney (1996) has managed to do with his "femininity" is exactly what the bullies in public schools - the "masters of the art of humiliation and technicians of the science of terrorism" (Rofes, 1995, p. 80) - had not been able to do. The same also seems to apply for the misogynous efforts of even more lethally sexist bullies (therapists) with some feminine boys who bravely resisted their professional forms of anti-sissy terrorism that continues under the mental disorder designation "Gender Identity Disorder" (Bartlett et al., 2000). Basically, these bullies have decreed that males must be "masculine," and the more stereotypically masculine one is - as in making this possible by working out in gyms - the better! Gay community ideology therefore reflects the well learned perspective (and then some) of all who have sought to harm gender nonconforming boys, meaning that many gay-identified males eventually identify with their abusers. They have also become abusers, and they are now essentially working to harm the boys who are as they once were: unacceptably "feminine."

This issue is highlighted in the first book on the subject: Sissyphobia: Gay Men and Effeminate Behavior by Tim Bergling (2001). A related review is appropriately titled " Nellies need not apply: Gay culture celebrates effeminacy as a social ideal. Why does it ridicule it as a sexual one?"

"Gay men encourage effeminacy by venerating drag and calling each other "girl." They love bitchy humor and consider camp an art form. But you'll never see effeminate men idealized as sexual partners…

That masculine gay men prefer other masculine gay men as partners isn't a shock. What is surprising is how few effeminate men wanted other effeminate men as sexual partners. Bergling quotes a study published by the American Psychological Association [Bailey et al., 1997] showing that a substantial number of effeminate-identified men prefer masculine men as sexual partners…

It's a shame that even a nelly doesn't equate nelliness with sexiness, because there's something self-negating about taking on characteristics you don't want your partners to have. There are lots of ironies in gay life, but perhaps none greater than this: Sissies are often the biggest sissyphobes of all" (Alvear, 2001)

About 80 percent of gay or bisexual identified adolescent males and young adults venturing into gay communities have varying levels of often detectable "femininity," with about 25 percent likely being very "feminine" (Bell et al., 1981; Remafedi et al., 1991). These males have also been at high risk for suicide attempts (35%), the highly "feminine" males having the highest risk (48%), compared to "masculine" gay and bisexual males (11%). However, their venture into gay communities may often be a shock. A common complaint by adolescent gay males - the ones with integrity who thought they could now be honest after a history of having to lie for survival reasons - was voiced as follows by a gay male adolescent: "Why do so many lie all of the time." This fact of life applies as much to sugar daddies as it does to average gay males, as reported in a French ethnomethodology study (de Luze, 1990). Most gay and bisexual males lie in one or more ways when meeting each other with a "sex" (maybe "love") objective in mind:
"The majority of homosexual males I have met would rather not know the truth (in spite of their professed desire to know the truth)... The very frequent use of lying by cruising homosexual males sometimes causes problems. For example, after sexual pleasure is experienced a love (passion) response may result. Is a relationship possible? Based on what? Being blind? In fact, when we are relating with an entrenched liar, there are no rational ways to detect where the lie end and where truth begins" (de Luze, 1990: Conclusion - Translated by author. Original text in Note 15).
One of the ways gay males lie, of the many ways listed in four major categories and 34 subcategories, is through their appearance, and "muscles" headed the list of eleven ways gay males lie physically. One case presented is similar to the self-reported life story of Bradley Boney (1996) after he ventured in the gay community, coded what was desired by other gay males if he wanted to have sexual partners, and altered himself accordingly. Guy is a 23-year-old male with an "effeminate" adolescent history that had earned him the "fag" label. To counter this feminine aspect of him, he eventually became muscular to appeal to other gay males, but de Luze (1990) discovered the truth about Guy:
"Guy's muscles are a desperate effort to make others believe that he is a real male sure of himself and morally sound, while he is in fact a timid male with a complex of problems, very nervous, and perpetually anxious. These facts became evident as the evening progressed and alcohol was giving him confidence and making him talkative. The evening ended with Guy reporting that he is constantly depressed and that he has already attempted suicide three times" (de Luze, 1990: Mensonge du Paraître: Muscles - Translated by author. Original text in Note 15).
The extent that lying by appearance - via muscular development - exists in gay communities is unknown, but some gay males believe what Scott Thompson of "Kid in the Hall" fame noted in a Salon Magazine interview: "...the sissy is the truth. The muscle queen is not. That is a false construct held up by wires, strings, steroids and the gym. It's not real. And if gay men aren't going to accept the sissy, then they're doomed" (Morgan, 1998). Harris (1991) had described the situation and some of the implications:
One would have anticipated that gay liberation... would have significantly changed the way that our culture views effeminacy, providing a new protective environment in which to experiment with unconventionally masculine forms of behavior. A central paradox of the birth of the subculture, however, is that in resisting the effeminate stereotypes and gestural paradigms that have tyrannized gay men of the past, we have created a new Frankenstein - the "good gay," masculine, assimilated, forceful, deliberate... In liberating themselves from effeminacy, homosexuals have taken on yet another albatross, accepted more, not less rigid notions of how they should express their homosexuality, and essentially invented - to borrow a stereotype ridicules in the black community - the gay oreo, effeminate on the inside, masculine without. In the final analysis, liberation has liberated homosexuals into a new totalitarian attitude towards their mannerisms, a new contempt for effeminacy... rather than endorsing effeminacy, gay liberation has led to the institutionalization of its ridicule" (Harris, 1991: 76, 78).
In the past few years, an immersion in death issues through the study of suicide has taught me that individuals not permitted to "be" themselves may end up experiencing serious problems, maybe of the deadly kind. Many homosexually oriented adolescents are living this reality by having a part of their minds socially programmed to hate their well recognised same-sex desires, and some of these youth do commit suicide, thus acting out the concept "Better Dead Than Gay" (Nicholas and Howard, 1998; Tremblay 1998-2002, Dorais, 2000). The inability to "be" who one "is" also results from external pressures that, for all boys manifesting a "feminine" self, operates through the "the bully" and his allies. The best friends of bullies are average adolescents, teachers and other adults who, through their silence, tacitly give their approval to the "masters of the art of humiliation and technicians of the science of terrorism" (Rofes, 1995, p. 80).

A potentially dangerous outcome of the gay community's anti-feminine ideology, however, would be to have some of its anti-feminine members become involved with adolescent suicide prevention, and especially with any part of a mainstream suicide prevention programs targeting at risk gay or bisexual identified male adolescents. To my knowledge, only one such program has been implemented in the world as part of a national suicide prevention strategy: Australia's 'Here for Life' Youth Sexuality Project. In the Final Report for the project, the section "Performance Indicators: Summary of Results" contained the following:

"Feedback from young people on resources: Very positive feedback on booklets: simple text; photos & quotes by real young people; no stereotypical gay imagery; do not reinforce "coming out" constructs, pressures or present experiences as homogenous. 5,000 referral fliers distributed - high demand for re-print" (Goldflam, 1999).
In producing the booklets, decisions were made by many involved with the project, and it was thought best to have "no stereotype gay imagery" in the booklets, and this will likely mean not having representations of males of the recognisable "feminine" kind. Experience in gay communities, as well as the related data, indicates that about 30 percent of the "most at risk" boys would be "feminine." This is followed by many more being "feminine" enough to not permit their placement in the category least at risk for suicide problems: "masculine" homosexually oriented males (Remafedi et al., 1991; Table 10b). Throughout the 'Here for Life' Youth Sexuality Project Final Report, the concept of gay stereotypes is occasionally noted, always with the implicit assumption that the existence of stereotypes is a problem.
"Young people with same sex attraction, whether or not they identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, grow up very aware of the prejudice, discrimination and possible violence they will face if their peers and family discover their sexual orientation. Cultural homophobia is often internalised, thereby reinforcing feelings of marginalisation and alienation. The turmoil most people pass through during their teen years is greatly compounded by prevailing negative stereotypes, lack of information, invisibility of sexual orientation and lack of positive community attachment experiences."
The prevailing apparently "negative" stereotype for homosexually oriented male youth is their assumed "femininity," the identifiable attribute resulting in their high risk for abuse since kindergarten, as reported by Rofes (1996). Many boys apparently grow out of their "sissy" status, possibly as a result of related self-hatred rooted in the learned extreme sexism manifested by most boys, but other boys "bravely" refuse to deny their "feminine" selves no matter what is the punishments inflicted on them. This outcome could be related to valuing femininity, although they may eventually assimilate and incorporate the trapping of stereotype masculinity as both Guy (de Luze, 1990) and Bradley (Boney, 1995) did because of gay community misogyny. This dislike and rejection (hatred?) of males who are feminine is essentially the dislike (hatred?) of what the majority of these males may be. Problems related to "stereotypes," and especially the more recent "masculine" gay stereotype, are described by Brown (2000; Note 16):
"The images we did not want to dominate were what were seen (from Western Australia's point of view) as the "Sydney Look" – the beefed up, ‘good looking' gay man with short / shaved hair, white shirt, tight jeans etc. The body beautiful image. We did not totally exclude anyone who looked this way, but were keen for it not to dominate as it had in previous strategies. We actively looked for a broader range of young men and women. We wanted to include a range of both masculine and feminine looking young men and women, as well as a diversity of cultural / ethnic backgrounds... Criticisms of the final images being "too warm and fuzzy" and "they all look about 20" we felt were quite valid."
It would therefore appear like the imagery did not exclude anyone, but it also was not representative of the dominating more feminine aspects of gay male youth. Related problems are noted:
"Certainly from an agency and funder point of view, there was a real assumption and pressure that tried to generalise or conform the experiences of same sex attracted youth. You know the line "Oh not all gay men are effeminate therefore gay men are OK" and of course the "if they did not behave so effeminately they would not get so harassed". This was RAMPANT! Its hard to know really how successful the project was in affirming the diversity of same sex attracted youth experiences and lives. There is always room for improvement and room to be challenged" (Brown, 2000).
There are therefore many problems to address when tackling gay and bisexual male youth suicide issues and a "critical point" according to Brown is the issue raised in this paper. Given the distribution of suicidality for adolescent homosexual males in the Remafedi et al. (1991, Table 10b) and the Bell et al. 1978 study (Table 10c), we could ask: Are adolescent homosexual male suicide problems a "sexual orientation" issue, or are they a "sissy" (a gender nonconformity) issue? And if "we" do not tackle that issue, can we honestly say that we are addressing the GB adolescent male suicide problems?
"I felt the term homophobia and even heterosexism have never really adequately explained the environment, and are often only thought of in relation to their impact on same sex attracted youth, rather than youth generally. When homophobia and heterosexism reveal themselves as anti-"sissy" actions or behaviour, is this the same as being anti gay? Maybe yes / maybe no. The men's health movement in Australia has tried to tackle these issues, in the context that they impact on all men, and society generally. Part of me feels that if it is only targeted by Gay / Lesbian projects, then the focus on only sexual orientation may continue by default" (Brown, 2000).
The 'Here for Life' Youth Sexuality Project was one of the first attempts in the world to tackle sexual minority suicide issues, and much remains to be learned in this respect. A project emphasis was on the representation of diversity, meaning that an emphasis was not placed on the overrepresentation of the most "at risk" more feminine gay and bisexual identified male adolescents. One focus, however, was on "positive community attachment experiences," as a positive outcome for these youth, but "community attachments" may not be all positive, especially for the more feminine gay and bisexual male youth, and for others as noted in an ethnographic study of 24 Australian homosexually active males ranging in age from 19 to 36 years by Ridge et al. (1997: 157, 174):
"The friendships established on the [gay community] scene, social dynamics were not conducive to developing intimate and meaningful relations. Social activities such as cruising for partners; pleasure seeking; the emphasis on superficial attributes including looks and styles; styles of social interaction including bitching and 'camping it up,' which kept communication at a superficial level; the sexualizing of social relations; the limited shared history of participants; and the need for men to compete for and maintain social status left little time for, and worked against, the establishment of close friendships. Difficulties in making friends create a tension because informants often adopt the rhetoric of 'community' to understand social relations in this setting early on. Some men compared scene friendships to the school yard where surface issues and belonging to in groups were also priorities… Informants did not describe their experiences in the scene in terms of finding unity. Connection, support, friendliness, openness, and acceptance - aspects of community that men had originally expected. Men could also misinterpret some dynamics such as experiences of pleasure as integration into a community. A Major theme emerging from this study was the multiple and fragmented youthful social networks made up of relatively exclusive social groups of varying status, maintained and influenced by rigid social regulation. Not belonging to a valued network was to risk "otherness" - as being too old, not the right look, not the correct ethnicity or class. Rather than interpersonal connection, competition, conflict, and the threat of becoming "other" permeated social relations and were experienced in alienating ways. Most informants, regardless of class or ethnicity, had described difficulties in developing socially supportive scene networks. Informants from lower-class and some ethnic minority backgrounds experienced additional but not unique isolation and alienation, including from racial discrimination and lack of familiarity with the mainly White middle-class culture. For men who continued to frequent the scene despite its perceived limitations, utilizing the scene in specific instrumental ways was not just a masculine or middle-class strategy as noted by Lynch (1992). It was also about self-protection against the scene."
For a significant number of homosexually oriented adolescent males, however, their "community attachment experience" occurs through prostitution that places them at higher risk for depression (Earls, 1989: 70 percent gay and bisexual males in the sample). Their prostitution attachments are also associated with suicide problems (Nicholas and Howard, 1998). However, the possible lack of positive attachments for these males was apparently not specifically targeted by the project. The fate of a group of such boys in Sidney is reported in the article "Silence is where the hate grows: silence = death" written in reference to mainstream suicidology having avoided "homosexuality" issues in adolescent suicide research and prevention work:
"Although Casey [with a history of eight suicide attempts] reckons he 'always knew' he was gay, he became one of the kids who was 'forced into doing it'. After moving to Sydney, Casey was drawn into a string of abusive 'relationships'.

Because of his low self-esteem borne of the silence, Casey says he was easy pickings for deeply-closeted homosexual 'sick tickets' who found more pleasure in hearing screams for mercy as they held knives to the throats of other parents' sons than in real and open love.

Starved of real love and left with little hope, Casey, like many young gays, turned to chemical 'friends' to fill the void. His only human friends became the other youngsters traded by the 'sick tickets'.

'Of the thirteen of us, I'm one of only three that's still alive today,' Casey says. 'Most of my friends blew their heads off, some of them OD'd and some of them have died from AIDS. They were all bright kids with talents and promising futures'" (Clacher, 1997).

Homosexually oriented adolescent males who venture into prostitution arrived there through a number of routes, and this includes seeking / developing a gay identity (Boyer, 1989). Generally, homosexually oriented youth are more at risk for experiencing suicide problems, compared to other youth. The associated risk factors are being visibly feminine, being targeted for harassment and physical violence in their families, schools, and communities because they are assumed or known to be gay, experiencing sexual abuse both before and after the age of 16 years, and running away from home and one's communities. These interrelated factors, including their high risk for the use and abuse alcohol and especially drugs of all types (Orenstein, 2000; Note 10), often lead to life on the streets, prostitution for survival reasons, and maybe seeking a sugar daddy (Kruks, 1991). This is the socially constructed situation that could essentially be called the "fresh meat" delivery system that many men depend on for their sexual access to boys, and it would also appear that aboriginal homosexually oriented adolescent males are overrepresented in male youth prostitution. For example, Boyer (1989) reported that 8.5 percent of her Seattle sample of 47 adolescent male prostitutes were Native American, but Seattle only has about 1 percent native American in schools from Grades 9 to 12 (Saewyc et al., 2000). In Canada, the Rabinovitch (2000) study is cited by Kingsley and Mark (2000: 14) because the results replicated what they had learned from interviews of Aboriginal adolescent male and female street youth from across Canada:
"The illicit nature of commercial sexual exploitation prevents ‘hard’ statistics, but there is a widespread consensus among community organizations, service providers, and front line agencies that Aboriginal youth participation in the sex trade is increasing. In some communities, the visible sex trade is 90 per cent Aboriginal."
The male part of this problem is a homosexuality issue and the Saewyc et al. (1998) study of American Indian adolescents highlights some of the factors that make possible the entry of so many North American Indian boys into the "at risk" world of male youth prostitution (Table 11). The gay and bisexual identified sexually experienced adolescent males in the study were the most at risk, compared to heterosexual sexually experienced adolescent males, for both sexual abuse and physical abuse, followed by the males who are "unsure" about their sexual orientation. Both groups were equally and also at significantly greater risk for having run away from home, compared to heterosexual males, thus replicating the results commonly reported for homosexually oriented adolescent males in the general population.
Table 11 - Sexually Experienced American Indian Adolescent Males on Reservations: Saewyc et al. (1998)
n = 1,561 (83.0%)
Not Sure
n = 274 (14.6%)
Gay / Bisexual
n = 46 (2.4%)
Sexual Abuse
6.5% 1
17.8% 2
Physical Abuse
14.1% 3
26.7% 4
Running Away
25.2% 5
23.3% 6
Non-random sample from 55 tribes in 8 of the 12 Indian Health Service areas. N = 2,056 adolescent males who were sexually experienced, and 1,881 of them answered the "sexual orientation" question. "Not Sure" refers to one's sexual orientation and this response suggest that individuals have maybe recognised same-sex sexual desires.

Greater risk (95% Confidence Intervals) for sexual abuse compared to heterosexual males in the same category: 1. RR = 1.2<1.9<3.2 (c2 = 3.3, p = .012), 2. RR = 2.6<5.1<10.1 (c2 =24.0, p < .0000), 3. RR = 1.1<1.5<2.0 (c2 = 5.4, p = .020), 4. RR = 1.6<2.7<4.5 (c2 = 13.4, p = .0002). 5. RR = 1.5<1.9<2.4 (c2 = 25.2, p < .0000), 6. RR = 1.0<1.8<3.0 (c2 = 4.2, p < .041)

Gay and bisexual Aboriginal male youth in North America are often called "Two-Spirited," meaning that they have both male and female attributes, or that they are biological males with female spirits, thus reflecting the common belief that homosexually oriented males 'must' in some way be like females. These often gender nonconformable adolescent males are also at relatively high risk for experiencing sexual abuse (Saewyc et al., 1998a: Table 8) and the same seem to apply for homosexually oriented Australian Aboriginal males as reported by Gary Lee (1998) in the National Aids Bulletin:

"Not all their stories are of sexual abuse and suicide. It takes a lot of courage for a very young male to start talking about very personal, sometimes devastating, events which have and are continuing to occur in their very young lives. This is particularly so because Indigenous gay men and transgendered people are only just beginning to address these issues themselves, yet within the broader Indigenous communities, there is an apparent unwillingness, or cultural reluctance, to do just that. Within this context of shame, cultural taboo, misinformation, fear and apprehension, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys who exhibit a definite sexuality and sexual drive cannot be comprehended by the rest of the community - especially when these males are under twelve years old."
The child sexual abuse risk for Australian Aboriginal homosexually oriented boys, including the boys seeking men phenomenon manifested by a significant proportion of the homosexually oriented adolescent male population, somewhat resembles what has been documented for North American Aboriginal homosexually oriented adolescent males, but little seems to be known about their representation in male prostitution. The Maori in New Zealand, however, are overrepresented in male prostitution (Weinberg et al., 2001: 280). Reports from Australia have also indicated that that gay and bisexual males attempting and maybe committing suicide is, in part, associated with male prostitution (Nicholas and Howard, 1998; Clacher, 1997). Yet, the 'Here for Life' Youth Sexuality Project did not specifically focus on these attributes in their advertising imagery given the valid criticism that the final images were "too warm and fuzzy" and that "they all look about 20." One potentially negative result of these images is that at risk youth are not leading "warm and fuzzy," thus precluding identification with these images. Feeling marginalised, they may then also feel that their life issues are not recognised and that help or understanding may not be available to them. The same would likely apply to the often more feminine boys that were said to become involved with men very early in adolescence (Leahy, 1992).

There are many potential problems to be considered by all contemplating the formation of sexual minority youth groups, and little has been written on the subject. Often enough, as noted in the Final Report of the 'Here for Life' Youth Sexuality Project, the tendency of sexual minority youth to form cliques may sabotage the more ideal objectives of a group. Brown (2000) commented on this issue as well as others:

"Your points about boundaries within youth groups, particularly in relation to sexual behaviour and also emotional connections / expectations that young people can have. I think we all know that a facilitator (or other group members) does not have to have sex with a group member to damage them!

In relation to better a bad group than no group question... I fall more on the side of better no group, as long as there is someone they CAN talk to. The assumption that you get a group of young people together and automatically there will be a positive, functional, uplifting experience is incorrect - but exactly why it works sometimes and why it can completely be a disaster at other times has yet to be shown to me conclusively. There are just so many variables.

When I compare the guidelines and responsibility for the programs back in 1994 when I first started being involved, to now - 6 years later - there is very little resemblance. There has been an enormous improvement, but still room for more. However to detail the changes and what seemed to work / not work would take some doing - and I fear would be distorted by time and memory. No matter how much we try - there is always that tendency to imagine that what we have now is sooooo much better, and then five years further down the track we will probably look back and say the same thing.

However, what we do have in relation to a number of ways that young people can report, inform, or otherwise make it known that they are not happy with the way things are operating is significantly better. Be it young people getting a bad deal, forced to conform, sexual pressure, or other sorts of unwanted influence from facilitators or other group members. Much of this is around supervision / support and engagement.

I am not that convinced about the long-term sustainability of youth groups without a structured backup, support and supervision. I feel many groups place too much pressure on young volunteers, and can place them in too "powerful" position without the capacity to deal with this. I mean - the number of so called trained, adult social workers who have really failed miserably in this respect always astounds me - let alone the position some young people are placed in" (Brown, 2000).

My own experiences with a sexual minority youth groups in Calgary from 1991 to 1996 has taught me to give warnings with respect to anyone contemplating the referral of a youth to such a group, especially with respect to accountability and honesty issues. For example, trouble in Calgary's gay community began after I had been reporting some unwelcome "community" truths, such as the reality of adolescents boys relating sexually with much older gay males because they often were only attracted to older males. These boys and others may also end up in gay clubs by the age of 14 years as a result of their contact with the gay and lesbian youth group. It had also been important to reported realities such as a 1994 observation made by a 19-year-old Calgary gay youth leader. On the basis of his experiences with many gay youth groups in Canada, about half were reported to be "fuckfest" (sic) groups. He noted this, however, only after I reported what was overheard at Calgary Gay Lines. A peer counsellor had told a teenager who had called for advice that he should not visit the gay and lesbian youth group because he would only get "fucked there" (sic).

The comment made to the teenager about the youth group was reported to the one responsible for Gay Lines and to the new youth group leader who was a Vietnamese friend of mine and he wanted to change things so that positive outcomes would result. I was then told that this sexual exploitation of youth by youth (usually of younger youth by older ones) was an open secret, and that the older gay and lesbian community leaders had done nothing about the situation. I also wrote about the sexual use and abuse of at risk gay youth by older males, including their risk for being raped as it had happened to many interviewed gay males (Note 17). One well known bisexual suicide victim, Bill Clayton, was sexually assaulted at the age of 14 years by a 20-year-old gay or bisexual identified male who had claimed to be a member of a gay and lesbian youth support. Bill had become very suicidal as the result of this experience In 1995, at the age of 17, he and a friend were assaulted for reason's related to one's apparently unacceptable sexual orientation (gay-bashing) and he committed suicide soon thereafter. (Clayton, 1996-2002)

Unfortunately, addressing the issue of "sexual assaults in gay communities" was precluded by the common "not airing of dirty laundry" community ideology. Unfortunately, this ideology means that serious problems will remain unacknowledged and ongoing, including the "gay community" problems of the more feminine gay and bisexual males. The same will also apply for the problems experienced by many adolescent boys in gay communities that often deny both their presence and the relationships they often have with significantly older gay-identified adult males. Little seems to have changed, so it seems, since Bell and Weinberg (1978: 311) reported that 25% of predominantly homosexual males studied, after they had reached the age of 21 years, had had male sexual partners 16 years of age or younger. In the British version of Queer as Folk, the 15-year-old Nathan has little trouble finding a twice-his-age desired gay male (Stuart) to relate with sexually. Furthermore, Nathan also little trouble getting into gay clubs once Stuart made this access possible through methods that I have seen replicated in Calgary and elsewhere. In the American version of Queer as Folk, the age of the young hero was changed to 17 years for "political" reasons, but the younger male is still presented as desiring significantly older males.

In 1997, a long-time Calgary gay community leader was reading the comments (complaints) made by Weldon (1997) and Foster (1997) with respect to their experiences of only being sexually used by older gay males. The community leader immediately labelled these responses to be "homophobic." This meant that if gay community males are not accepted as they are (some being users, abusers, and liars), and if your unhappiness with the situation becomes suicidal from repeated negative experiences, including maybe being sexually used, abused, or even raped, you will be branded as "homophobic." A similar response would surely apply if the most "feminine" gay and bisexual male adolescents and young adults began complaining about what many gay communities have become ideologically, and if they also reported on the related varied abuses inflicted on them by their own kind.

Reports on the problems of gay and bisexual adolescents and youth are remarkably similar in many countries, as indicated in a Master's thesis study of 109 gay and bisexual males (M = 21.6 years, 16 -26 years) in New Zealand:

"…some participants indicated that [GLB] support groups could often be "unfriendly", "bitchy", and even "sexually predatory". For some people, such groups may be the first experience they will have with openly gay people. If they find themselves further excluded or sexually preyed upon, by those they feel are supposed to support them, they may feel even more alienated and thus may actually end up more suicidal than before they joined the group. Participants stressed the need for groups to be funded adequately so that they could be professionally facilitated, and avoid these problems" (Fenaughty, 2000: Chapter 5 - Support Group Membership)
Often enough, these youth are having these "gay community" problems after they have experienced considerable abuse in mainstream society. Victimisation in society was associated with serious thoughts about suicide reported by 46.6 percent of the 109 New Zealand gay and bisexual males studied and it was also associated with the attempts at suicide by 21 percent of these males (23/109).
"The current findings suggest that bisexual and gay male youth in Aotearoa/New Zealand experience high amounts of victimisation at home, school, and in the community. Overseas research has indicated that young L/B/G people endure significantly more victimisation than straight youth. Furthermore, the… data also indicates that higher levels of victimisation are associated with increased suicide ideation. Suicide attempters and participants who reported having serious thoughts of suicide, were significantly more likely to have experienced more victimisation at home, school, and in the community, than non-attempters and participants who did not report 'serious thoughts' of suicide" (Fenaughty, 2000: Chapter 5).
Nicholas and Howard (2001) reported similar results in their study of 105 Australian gay male youth (M = 22 years, approximately). The ones who had attempted suicide (n = 22) were significantly more likely to have experienced "verbal violence" from their mothers, peers at school, and from strangers than the gay males who had not attempted suicide (n = 83). Such abuse and victimisation occurring during adolescence, however, is most often not related to others 'knowing" that a male youth is gay, but rather to the "presumption of homosexuality" that would be based on manifested gender conformity attributes. This would also mean that the homosexuality related victimisation of boys extends well beyond the group that is or will become self-identified as gay or bisexual. Heterosexual identified boys targeted for anti-gay harassment and/or victimisation may also be at risk for attempting and maybe committing suicide.


Note 11

Concerning "I and E," Lippa (2000) writes: "In the early 1970s, the bipolar approach to M-F [Masculinity-Femininity] was supplanted by a two-dimensional conception of masculinity and femininity, which has been dominant for the past 25 years. The two-dimensional approach defines masculinity in terms of instrumental personality traits and femininity in terms of expressive traits. During the 1970s, a number of self-report inventories were developed to assess instrumentality (I) and expressiveness (E) as two separate dimensions, the best known being the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI; Bem 1974, 1981) and the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ; Spence & Helmreich, 1978; Spence, Helmreich, & Stapp, 1974) A number of studies have investigated the relationship between individuals' sexual orientation and their I and E scores (e.g., Bailey et al., 1996; Spence & Helmreich, 1978; see Pillard, 1991, for a review). The trend is for gay men to score as high as heterosexual men on I but somewhat higher on E…" (p. 902) For a good review of the history of Masculinity - Femininity determinations see Lippa (2001).

Note 12

Cohen's d statistic and effect size correlation for the "Femininity-Masculinity" self-rating on a 7-point scale (0 = feminine, 6 = masculine) of White predominantly homosexual males versus White predominantly heterosexual males in the Bell et al. (1981) study sample taken in 1969 (mean age = 36 years). White Heterosexual Males (N = 284, Mean = 4.828, SD = .937) vs. White Homosexual Males (N = 573, Mean = 3.258, SD = 1.333). Cohen's d statistic = 1.36, r = .563 (effect size correlation), t = 19.94, df = 757.9, unequal variance, p < .000 (2-tailed test of significance). Cohen's d statistic calculated using t and df values = 1.45, r = .587.

Cohen's d statistic and effect size correlation for the "Femininity-Masculinity" self-ratings on a 7-point scale (0 = feminine, 6 = masculine) of Black predominantly homosexual males versus Black predominantly heterosexual males in the Bell et al. (1981) study sample taken in 1969 (mean age = 27 years). Black Heterosexual Males (N = 53, Mean = 5.302, SD = .911) vs. Black Homosexual Males (N = 110, Mean = 3.764, SD = 1.514). Cohen's d statistic = 1.23, r = .524 (effect size correlation), t = 8.05, df = 153.1, unequal variance, p < .000 (2-tailed test of significance). Cohen's d statistic calculated using t and df values = 1.305, r = .545.

Cohen's d statistic and effect size correlation were generated via the calculator available at

Examples of Cohen's d statistic for self-ascribed femininity mean scores (3 measures used for mean scores) in Study 2 by Lippa (2000): homosexual males versus heterosexual males Cohen's d = 1.22, p < .000. In Study 1 by Lippa (2000), varying contrasted group of homosexually oriented males versus the others on self-ascribed mean femininity scores produced d values ranging from .81 to 1.15, p < .000.

Note 13

For the Remafedi et al. (1991) data (Table 10b, Age Range 14-21 years), and using the 2 X 2 Table located at -, the following Risk Ratios (RR) and Odds Ratios (OR) for attempting suicide were calculated with 95% Confidence Intervals. 1. "Feminine" Category vs. "Androgynous / Undifferentiated" Category - RR = .98<1.6<2.7, OR = .93<2.2<5.2 (c2 = 3.3, p = .068); 2. "Feminine" Category vs. "Masculine" Category - RR = 1.4<4.5<14.0, OR = 1.9<7.8<31.3 (c2 = 9.8, p = .002; 3. "Androgynous / Undifferentiated" Category vs. "Masculine" Category - RR = .91<2.8<8.6, OR = .97<3.5<12.9 (c2 = 4.0, p = .044); 4. "Feminine / Androgynous / Undifferentiated" Category vs. "Masculine Category - RR = 1.1<3.3<9.9, OR = 1.3<2.9<16.0 (c2 = 6.3, p = .012). Categories: Bem (1981) Sex Role Inventory.

Note 14

For the Bell et al. (1981) data (Table 10c, 1969 sample, mean age = 37 years) generated by Tremblay and Ramsay (2002), and using the 2 X 2 Table located at -, the following Risk Ratios (RR) and Odds Ratios OR) for attempting suicide were calculated with 95% Confidence Intervals. 1. "0-1" F-M Category vs. "2-3" F-M Category - RR = 1.1<2.0<3.6, RR = 1.1<2.3<4.8 (c2 = 4.8, p = .027); 2. "0-1" F-M Category vs. "4 to 6" Category - RR = 2.1<4.4<9.3, OR = 2.3<2.4<12.8 (c2 = 17.4, p < .0000); 3. "2-3" F-M Category vs. "4 to 6" Category - RR = 1.2<2.2<4.2, OR = 1.2<2.4<4.8 (c2 = 6.3, p = .012); 4. "0-3" F-M Category vs. "4 to 6" Category - RR = 1.4<2.6<4.8, RR = 1.4<2.8<5.5 (c2 = 10.1, p = .001); 5. "0-3" F-M Category vs. "4 to 6" Category - RR = .42<.71<1.2, OR = .39<.69<1.2 (c2 = 1.6, p = .20). Categories: Feminine (0) to Masculine (6) Self-Rating on 7-point scale for childhood and adolescence (to the age of 17 years).

Note 15

French texts by de Luze (1990) are translated by Pierre Tremblay:

La vérité est souvent rebutante. La plupart des homosexuels que j'ai rencontrés ne tiennent pas à la connaître (malgré leurs professions de foi contraire)... L'usage si fréquent du mensonge chez les dragueurs homosexuels pose parfois des problèmes. Par exemple dans les cas où, succédant au simple plaisir, s'installe la passion. Peut-on envisager une liaison? Sur quelle base? Où va-t-on ainsi à l'aveuglette? En fait, quand on a affaire à un menteur enraciné, il n'y a guère de moyen rationnel pour détecter où finit le mensonge et où commence la vérité (de Luze, 1990: Conclusion).

Les muscles de Guy sont un effort désespéré pour faire croire qu'il est un mec sûr de lui, résolu, moralement solide, alors qu'en fait c'est un garçon timide, complexé, maladivement nerveux, perpétuellement anxieux comme je m'en rends compte au fur et à mesure que la soirée s'avance et que, l'alcool lui donnant un peu d'assurance, un maniement plus aisée de la parole, il finit par se confier et nous révéler qu'il est constamment dépressif et a déjà fait trois tentatives de suicide (de Luze, 1990: Mensonge du Paraître: Muscles).

Note 16

A response to "gay stereotype" issues mentioned in the Final Report of the 'Here for Life" Youth Sexuality Project was sent to Graham Brown, the contact person for the Final Report. The exchange of information resulted in a revised section addressing a number of related issues. Permission was requested to quote from the emails by sending a draft of the section for approval and related comments. A final version was then sent, and permission to quote was granted. A related comment by Graham Brown: "While I may not totally agree with all your conclusions, I agree with the general thrust, and anyway it is not for me to necessarily agree or not, but for you to put forward your thoughts and arguments, and I am happy to contribute to that." He also volunteered to have his email given - - should anyone reading this section of the paper wish to have someone with whom some important multi-dimensional issues relating to the organisation of sexual minority youth groups may be discussed, including the development of potential problems, gay stereotypes, etc.. Graham Brown's Address: WA AIDS Council, PO Box 1510, West Perth, WA 6872, Australia.

Note 17

The issue of adolescent and young adult males being raped after they have become integrated in gay communities is generally ignored. Often enough sexual assaults occur after meeting gay or bisexual individuals in a club or a community group, and then finding themselves in a more private location such as a home or an apartment. In such a situation they may discover their loss of right to not have sex with the individual, and a sexual assault results. As a rule, the raped individuals I have interviewed were more "feminine" in nature, and physically not imposing, although this was not always the case. One 17-year-old Calgary male youth of decent physical stature reported that his size became irrelevant mostly because the two gay males (about 40 years of age) he had met at a gay club participated in the rape after he had accepted an invitation to their home. All raped individuals had also not reported the rape to authorities mostly because they did not want their "homosexuality" to be public knowledge, and this fact essentially gives gay and bisexual rapists an open license to rape. The raped individuals had also not sought counselling related to the rape.

Some raped gay and bisexual males, however, do seek help. Lana Stermac et al. (1996: 61) reported on a group of these males in Toronto. They noted: "...that the majority of [mostly young adult male] victims [of sexual assault or rape] are gay or bisexual and are at least acquainted with their assailants [who are also mostly homosexual or bisexual] - have been supported by other recent investigations of sexual assault of males and studies of sexual coercion in dating relationships of adult males." The mental health and suicidality effects of gay community based sexual assault and rape on homosexually oriented male youth, especially adolescents, remain to be studied. A contributing factor to this problem may be related to an observation made about many gay males, one of these being the responses of about 10 gay males present at Calgary Gay Lines one evening. They were most opposed to the idea of meeting a gay male, ending up in a private space, and then having the desired male not want to relate sexually with them. My response to such attitudes was to highlight the fact that many heterosexual males have used the same ideology to justify their date raping activities with females.

Remafedi et al. (1991) reported high rates of sexual abuse for gay and bisexual male youth (39%), but also noted that the reported sexual abuse generally post-dated sexual identification as gay or bisexual. The unspoken implication is that the sexual abuse likely occurred after they made themselves available for sexual experiences. Their availability was often by making contact with some gay community attribute such as the "public sex" arena, as most of the first sexual experiences occurred for the teenage gay males studied by Uribe and Harbeck (1992). Sexual assault and rape after adolescent males have made contact with gay communities, however, remain hidden in all studies reporting such experiences, often assumed to be "child sexual abuse" having occurred before the individual made contact with gay communities. This assumption may be incorrect. In a 1989 study of 46 male youth prostitutes (average age of 16.2 years, 70% GB males), 72 percent of the gay and bisexual males had been sexual abused compared to 43 percent of heterosexual males, 43 percent of gay and bisexual males had been raped compared to 21 percent of heterosexual males, and 85 percent of the rapes had not been related to their street life (Boyer, 1989).

By the year 2000, the research silence on sexual abuse and rapes of young gay and bisexual males in gay communities had been broken. From a qualitative study of 30 gay-identified male youth ranging in age from 18 to 24, Mutchler (2000) reported that "more than half (18 out of 30) of the young men in this study told of feeling pressured or forced into having sex that they did not completely want. Nine of these individuals were raped by boyfriends, family members, or other men" (p. 31), and four of the nine "were raped by men other than their boyfriends" some at a very young age, with the majority (5/9) being raped by boyfriends (p. 32). Mutchler noted, however, that "the line between being used and being raped is fussy under [some] situation" (p. 32). For example, he reported on a youth meeting an older man (previously unknown to the youth) and ending up in a situation where the sex (including being subjected to unwanted unprotected anal sex) was experienced. The youth reported his feelings:

"I was afraid he would get mad at me or something. I don't know. It was pretty stupid. I don't feel good about it; it's a pretty bad way of treating a person, but it's pretty common in the gay world. When I went to [the gay bar], it sort of felt like the people were circling me like hawks" (p. 31).
Mutchler noted that "stories like [the one above], with slight variations, [were] repeated by 11 of my 30 respondents" (p. 31).
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