Perceptions of gay black men on the social construction of masculinity and its role in mental health

Keith J. Watts, Kia J. Bentley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: The meaning and experience of masculinity differs across people and groups, and previous research has demonstrated that such differences are reflected in mental health outcomes. For gay Black men situated at the intersection of identifying as both a sexual minority and a racial minority, navigating the norms and expectations associated with masculinity often presents many challenges. Methodology: This phenomenological study explored how 17 gay Black men ranging in age from 26 to 67 years, who live in a major city in the southeastern region of the United States, define, understand, and experience masculinity, as well as their perceptions about its connection to their mental health and well-being. Results: Participant narratives reflected a strong consensus that masculinity is a social construction that is associated with a range of both limiting and liberating characteristics and experiences, and that has strong implications for mental health. Conclusions: Increased awareness and understanding of the relevance of a masculine identity to the mental health and well-being of gay Black men can help provide more appropriate and more compassionate mental health programs and services that are likely to promote service utilization among members of this community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-174
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Black men
  • Masculinity
  • gay
  • mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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