Exploring sexual identity development among African American male college students

Journal Article (Academic article)

African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV among other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. One group warranting attention in North Carolina has been African American male college students. Between 2000 and 2003, 11% of new HIV infections among men ages 18-30 were enrolled in college at the time of their diagnosis, with 87% of those college students being African American. Another examination of HIV transmission among men ages 18-30 in North Carolina revealed that 15% of the men reported sexual contact with both men and women in the year prior to their diagnosis, and that these individuals were more likely than men who exclusively have sex with men to be African American and enrolled in college. Sexual identity is a complex and multidimensional construct. Many factors surrounding sexual identity have yet to be sufficiently explored in the context of sexual transmission and HIV. To more fully understand the role that sexual identity may play in the lives of African American men, we interviewed African American male college students within a historically Black college and university in North Carolina. Our aim was to address a gap in the literature by exploring what shapes sexual identity and its development among African American men. This could lead to future research that could explain sexual behavior within the context of the HIV epidemic for this population. Interviews were used to assess experiences, attitudes, and beliefs about sexual identity development and sexual activity held by African American male college students. A total of 31 African American male students took part in this investigation. Researchers developed interview questions based on The Measure of Sexual Identity Exploration and Commitment survey instrument. Results from this qualitative exploratory study revealed that the language, meaning, and dimensions of sexual identity development were consistently related to peer and family influences, sexual physicality, importance of sexual reputations, safe sexual practices, full disclosure from sexual partners, and heterosexuality.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Randolph, SD; Kim, MM; Golin, CE; Matthews, DD

Published Date

  • February 13, 2013

Published In

  • Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality

Volume / Issue

  • 16 /