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“White, Tall, Top, Masculine, Muscular”: Narratives of Intracommunity Stigma in Young Sexual Minority Men’s Experience on Mobile Apps


What forms of intracommunity stigma do young sexual minority men narrate as they participate in communities through mobile apps? In a content analysis of 32 interviews with a racially diverse sample of young sexual minority men (ages 19-25; 84.4% non-White) from four regions of the USA, a majority of men (62.5%) spontaneously discussed mobile apps (e.g., Grindr, Scruff) when asked about their experience of community more broadly. Men's narratives revealed engagement with intracommunity stigma related to body size, race/ethnicity, gender expression, and sexual position (e.g., bottom). Stigma related to HIV status, substance use, and social class were not spontaneously narrated in response to questions about men's experience in communities. Expressions of stigma were frequently experienced intersectionally, particularly regarding racialized stereotype expectations (e.g., "Asian men are twinks, effeminate"). We discuss the ways in which sexual minority men reproduce dominant ideologies related to racism, misogyny, and masculine body ideals as they engage with one another on mobile apps. To the extent that many young men rely on mobile apps for community connection, their experiences of community might serve to exacerbate, rather than ameliorate, the deleterious impact of stigma.

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