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The sociopolitical involvement of Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men.

A feeling of belonging is a key aspect of the social experience (Putnam, 2000), but many individuals feel marginalized within their social and cultural groups. It is especially troublesome when this marginalization occurs within groups that experience multiple forms of oppression (Reynolds & Pope, 1991). This paper examines the sense of belonging that Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men experience within lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities of color. It also assesses the importance of sexual and racial/ethnic identity and how this may relate to what we refer to in this paper as sociopolitical involvement, an aspect of civic engagement.

As men who face sexuality, race, class, and all too often, immigrant-based oppression and marginalization, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander sexual minority men provide the perfect lens through which to examine belonging within marginalized communities. Through survey data collected from over 1,400 Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men who took part in the Social Justice Sexuality Survey--a survey that measures the experiences of LGBT people of color (POC)--this paper explores how a sense of belonging is related to levels of sociopolitical involvement. In particular, we are exploring how belonging to community and feelings about the importance of sexual and racial/ethnic identity can influence sociopolitical involvement within LGBT POC communities. This research hypothesizes that a Black, Latino, and Asian Pacific Islander man's level of sociopolitical involvement within LGBT communities of color is directly correlated to the level of acceptance and comfort he feels within the larger LGBT community as well as within his own racial/ethnic community.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Civic engagement consists of both community engagement/outreach and sociopolitical involvement. Civic engagement includes such things as participation in political life, outreach, and volunteering for one's community (Galston & Lopez, 2006). On the other hand, sociopolitical involvement, an understudied aspect of civic engagement, includes participation in social and cultural events, particularly those that address community issues and concerns, as well as social volunteerism and activism. Levels of sociopolitical involvement often signify one's potential for civic and community activism (Putnam, 2000). Research on sociopolitical involvement emphasizes the importance of community connectedness and feelings of belonging (Heath & Mulligan, 2008). As civic engagement concerns "people's connections with the life of their communities" (Putnam, 1995, p. 665), analyzing sociopolitical involvement and how deeply individuals are engaged with these communities is necessary (Levine, 2011). As such, feelings of belonging within a community may hold important implications for one's level of sociopolitical involvement.

Civic engagement has been examined in relation to a number of variables; in particular, race, gender, income, education, geographic location, immigrant status, and, most notably, age (Putnam, 2000; Sander & Putnam, 2006; Verba, Schlozman, & Brady, 1995). In an analysis of civic engagement among people in the United States, Verba, Schlozman, and Brady (1995) found that Blacks and Whites tend to have the highest levels, compared to other racial/ethnic groups with, on many measures, Blacks reporting higher levels than Whites, regardless of education and class. A 2011 study mirrors these findings; looking at volunteerism and political activism in a sample of 129 Black young adults from an urban community, the study found that community involvement was an important factor for volunteerism as well as an indicator of intentions for future community involvement (Chung & Probert, 2011). Blacks are more likely to report campaign work and involvement in informal community activities and protest more than their White counterparts (Verba et al., 1995). A 2011 study of first-time, full-time AmeriCorps volunteers enrolled between September 1999 and January 2000 found that race plays an important part in community engagement, with Blacks tending to volunteer more frequently than Latina/os or Asian/Pacific Islanders (Finlay, Flanagan, & Wary-Lake, 2011). More specifically, Blacks, more than any other racial/ethnic group, spend significantly more hours volunteering for political campaigns and are more likely to participate in issue-based activities, such as basic human needs, education, civil rights, and, in particular, criminal justice or drug issues (Verba et al., 1995). Similarly, a 1990 study of 1,466 respondents to the General Social Survey (GSS) illustrated that Black people in areas with high Black empowerment (defined as areas with a Black mayor) were more civically active than those in low Black empowerment areas or their White counterparts of comparable socioeconomic status (Bobo & Gilliam, 1990). Conversely, when compared to Blacks and Whites, Latina/os are significantly less likely to be civically involved in their communities. For example, Latina/os are less likely to vote, work for campaigns, protest, contribute money, and report any "informal community activity" than are Blacks or Whites (Verba et al., 1995, p. 233). And this may be occurring because of other salient issues that this group faces. In fact, Verba et al. (1995) argue that "Like other immigrant groups, Latinos face special obstacles of language and legal status" (p. 230). Citizenship status also matters for Latina/o sociopolitical involvement. When comparing the civic engagement of Latina/o citizens to non-citizens, Verba et al. (1995) found that those who are citizens are significantly more likely to vote than are non-citizens and are only slightly more likely to be politically engaged than non-citizens. Native-born and English-speaking Latina/os have greater access to the resources--such as time and money--necessary to more easily participate in their communities (de La Garza & DeSipio, 1992). A study of protest activity among Latina/os found that recent immigrants, as well as the children born to immigrants, are more likely to protest restrictions on immigration than their native-born counterparts (Lopez et al., 2006). Other research found that respondents with immediate family in the United States are more likely to engage in civic activities than those respondents with family abroad (DeSipio, 2003). There is also a distinct difference in political engagement within Latina/o ethnic groups. For example, Cuban Americans are much more likely to be civically engaged within their communities, in some cases at the same rate or even more than the national average of other racial groups (Verba et al., 1995). Further, research finds that those Latina/os who identify strongly with a political party are more likely to participate in political activities (Barreto & Munoz, 2003). Additionally, as family interaction increases so too does civic engagement among Latina/os (Wilkin, Katz, & Ball-Rokeach, 2009).

Asian/Pacific Islanders in the U.S. report the lowest overall levels of civic engagement when compared to Blacks, Latina/os, and Whites (Xu, 2002). Much of this decreased civic engagement stems from the fact that, like Latina/os, Asian/Pacific Islanders are much more likely to be recent immigrants compared to Blacks and Whites, and, as such, are less likely to feel connected to the political and social life of their communities (Jang, 2009; Xu, 2002). According to Jun Xu, "Several studies have found that immigrant status is a great impediment to political involvement as immigration-related characteristics like country of origin, naturalization processes, length of stay in the United States, and the sojourner's complex are found to have a strong impact on political behavior" (Xu, 2002, p. 76). Even when taking class and education into account, Asian/Pacific Islanders are still less likely to be civically engaged than other racial ethic groups, including Latina/os, another group that has high immigrant and first generation populations (Jang, 2009; Xu, 2002). However, length of residence (Leighley & Vedlitz, 1999) and being born in the U.S. (Leighley & Vedlitz, 1999; Wong et al., 2011) appears to be a significant predictor of overall political participation among Asian/Pacific Islanders.

In examining class and education, not surprisingly, research indicates that levels of civic engagement greatly increase with both income and education (Brand, 2010; Campbell, 2009). This is also the case specifically among Latina/os where education is positively correlated to political participation (Pachecho & Plutzer, 2008). For example, Latina/o high school dropouts are less likely to vote than are Latina/o high school graduates (Pachecho & Plutzer, 2008). That same study found that high school graduates are also more likely to vote if they had a political discussion in the 12th grade. In addition, full-time enrollment in a four-year college raises voter turnout by 14% among Latina/os (Pachecho & Plutzer, 2008). Among Asian/Pacific Islanders, the higher the educational attainment, the more likely they are to have a party affiliation and vote (Hoene, 2011). Although a higher income increases one's chances of registering to vote among Asian/Pacific Islanders, it does not necessarily increase their likelihood to vote (Jang, 2009; Lien, 1994). Even though political participation and voter turnout rates remain traditionally low for Asian/Pacific Islanders, they do have a strong history of community engagement and activism (Aguirre & Lio, 2008). For example, "they have organized worker cooperatives, mobilized community support, and led worker struggles" (Aguirre & Lio, 2008, p. 6).

Research maintains that age is the most important predictor of civic engagement (Galston & Lopez, 2006). Galston and Lopez (2006) argue that those born "between the late 1920s and mid-1940s ... tend to be more participatory and less individualistic in their outlook than are their younger fellow citizens" (p. 5). Activities such as volunteering for organizations, voting, and even church attendance are heavily determined by age cohort, with older people participating in more of these activities than younger ones (Galston & Lopez, 2006; Sander & Putnam, 2006).

Belonging

The sense of belonging to a community is not only important for individual psychosocial well-being and positive identity formation, but it is also often directly linked to an individual's level of civic engagement (Flores, Mansergh, Marks, Guzman, & Colfax, 2009; Heath & Mulligan, 2008). Belonging consists of "an unfolding space of attachment, affiliation, and recognition" (Gorman-Murray, Waitt, & Gibson, 2008, p. 172), or as Nira Yuval-Davis explains, belonging is as much about emotional connection as it is about "feeling 'safe'" (2006, p. 198). Literature indicates that civic engagement is primarily determined by feelings of acceptance and belonging within a group (Putnam, 2000; Verba et al., 1995). Civic engagement is an important coping mechanism for those facing multiple levels of minority-based stress (Balsam et al., 2011; Poynter & Washington, 2005).

The feeling of "belonging" is often determined by the amount of power and the position one holds within a group, as well as political values and identifications (Yuval-Davis, 2006). This sense of belonging is especially important for those who have experienced multiple levels of identity-based oppression and marginalization. Yuval-Davis (2006) explains that belonging does not simply concern identity and one's social location, however; it is also about how people view their attachments and how they feel these attachments are judged. In order to seek a sense of community and belonging, those who feel marginalized are more likely to identify with other like members of their marginalized group(s) (Daniel Tatum, 2003). The exclusion that marginalized group members experience often increases their need to belong to social groups (Gorman-Murray et al., 2008). Lehavor, Balsam, and Ibrahim-Wells (2009) explain that "LGBT communities and ethnic minority communities provide members with a safe space in which they can interact without threat of persecution, socialize with similar others, and access resources, as well as having been the heart of activism for LGBT and civil rights" (p. 440). However, just as feelings of marginalization occur with members outside of one's social group, this marginalization can also occur within one's social group.

Intragroup Marginalization

Intragroup marginalization, or "the downgrading and discrimination that more privileged group members have towards other, less privileged group members" (Harris, 2009, p. 431), is often reported as being an added stressor to people already facing marginalization by dominant groups (Harris, 2009; Rust, 2000). Examples of intragroup marginalization include homophobia among women and within communities of color, as well as gender and racial/ethnic discrimination within lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities. Rust (2000) notes three types of coping mechanisms that sexual minorities of color often employ. One is to conceal their sexuality in order to maintain support from their racial/ethnic communities. Another is to leave their racial/ethnic community of origin and immerse themselves in the mainstream LGBT community. And the third coping mechanism is to maintain a close connection to their racial/ethnic communities while being "out," and challenging homophobia within these communities. Regardless of their approach, intragroup marginalization experienced by LGBT people of color (POC) can have a negative impact on their perceptions of identity, thus encouraging them to find comfort in LGBT communities of color (Rust, 2000).

Research on homophobia within communities of color is plentiful and highlights how distressing this form of discrimination is for racial/ethnic minority LGBT people (Battle & Lemelle, 2002; Constantine-Simms, 2001; Crichlow, 2004; Dalton, 1989; Griffin, 2001; hooks, 2001; Thomas, 1996; Ward, 2005). Research finds that religion, family, and traditional understandings of gender roles may hinder the coming out process of LGBT youth of color and may lead to negative identity formation (Diaz, 1998; Loiacano, 1989; Martinez & Sullivan, 1998; Savin-Williams, 1996). Scholars argue that homophobia within the Black community is due, in large part, to conservative notions of sexuality, which is often rooted in the history of sexuality-based oppression that Blacks have experienced (Battle & Lemelle, 2002; Collins, 2000; Harris, 2010; hooks, 2001; West, 2001). In addition, this work indicts social and cultural notions of sexuality, masculinity, and femininity (Collins 2000; hooks, 2004; West, 2001), as well as overall gender role issues as being progenitors and perpetuators of homophobia (Battle & Lemelle, 2002; Collins, 2000; Harris, 2010; hooks, 2004).

Among the over 900 Latino gay and bisexual men surveyed in Diaz and Ayala's study of HIV/AIDS, a vast majority experienced homophobia, with 70% reporting that their same sex attractions "hurt/embarrassed family" (Diaz & Ayala, 2001, p. 23). Diaz and Ayala (2001) quote one respondent as saying, "... you also grow up being told that being gay, you're going to be punished for it. It's something dirty" (p. 16). In fact, Latina/o LGBT youth, even though they felt comfortable with their sexuality, disclosed their sexuality to fewer people compared to Black and White LGBT youth (Rosario, Schrimshaw, & Hunter, 2004). Rosario et al. (2004) hypothesize that the reason LGBT Latina/o youths may be less likely to disclose their sexuality to their families could be due to the high level of respect afforded to the family.

In examining homophobia experienced by Asian/Pacific Islanders, Chan (1989) found that only 26% had come out to their parents compared to 77% who had come out to other family members and almost 100% of the sample who had come out to friends. Chan quotes one respondent as saying, "I wish I could tell my parents--they are the only ones who do not know about my gay identity, but I am sure they would reject me" (1989, p.19). Those participants who found it harder to come out in the Asian/Pacific Islander community felt this was because homosexuality was viewed as taboo (Chart, 1989). Similarly, Operario et al. (2008) report that their Asian American and Pacific Islander gay male sample felt as if they have consistently experienced sexual stigma and discrimination within their racial/ethnic communities. In fact, Chan (1989) found that the men in her sample experienced more sexual discrimination than race-based discrimination.

LGBT people of color frequently experience homophobia not only within the larger society and within their racial group, and they also experience racism within the mainstream, predominantly White LGBT community (Diaz et al., 2001; Flores et al., 2009; Han, 2007; Icard, 1986; Loiacano, 1989; Martinez & Sullivan, 1998; Savin-Williams, 1996). Research on the racial discrimination experienced by gay men of color in the White LGBT community notes the negative ramifications this discrimination has on their self-esteem (Flores et al., 2009). Research also indicates that this homophobia results in LGBT people of color not being fully involved in, or integrated within the mainstream LGBT community (Icard, 1986; Loiacano, 1989; Martinez & Sullivan, 1998; Savin-Williams, 1996).

In Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud: Black Pride Survey 2000, researchers found that half of Black LGBT people strongly agreed that racism was a problem in the mainstream LGBT community. Most of the respondents in the survey, regardless of gender and gender expression, indicated that racial/ethnic discrimination was the primary form of discrimination they experienced (Battle et al., 2002). Black gay men have reported experiencing more forms of discrimination within predominantly White LGBT spaces--bars, clubs, organizations, events--and within interpersonal relationships than have Black lesbians (Battle et al., 2002).

Rafael Diaz et al. (2001) found that many Latino gay and bisexual men had experienced overt racial discrimination and many experienced this racism within the LGBT community. Diaz et al. (2001) report that 26% felt uncomfortable in White LGBT spaces, and 62% of respondents "reported having been sexually objectified owning to their race or ethnicity" (p. 930).

Studies examining the experiences of Asian/Pacific Islanders within the LGBT community have found that most have felt they were overlooked within the community (Chan, 1989) or they experienced overt racial discrimination (Dang & Hu, 2004). Dang and Hu (2004) noted that over 82% of their respondents experienced racism from White LGBT people. However, the men in Chart's (1989) sample experienced more sexual discrimination within the Asian/Pacific Islander community than racial discrimination within the LGBT community. Overall, however, Dang and Hu (2004) found that most of the people within their sample (53%) reported positive experiences within the mainstream LGBT community.

As the literature notes, LGBT people of color (POC) are less likely to be involved in the LGBT community than are their White counterparts (Icard, 1986; Loiacano, 1989; Martinez & Sullivan, 1998; Savin-Williams, 1996). Research on the racial discrimination experienced by gay and bisexual men of color in White LGBT communities notes the negative ramifications that this discrimination has on their feelings of belonging, self-esteem, and their perception of self-worth (Flores et al., 2009). Due to the discrimination they experience, building spaces where LGBT people of color feel welcomed and accepted is vital to their wellbeing. Aguirre and Lo (2008) note the importance of this within one LGBT POC group:

gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer Asian and Pacific Islanders had to create "safe spaces" within which they would be able to build political and cultural identities that facilitated the integration of their queer, colored, and gendered selves.... Safe spaces such as these were to enable them to struggle against racism, sexism, and homophobia issuing from society, their communities, and their families. (Aguirre & Lio, 2008, p. 7)

Research argues that community acceptance, or a sense of belonging, is key to one's level of sociopolitical involvement. However, research fails to measure the sense of belonging and sociopolitical involvement among people who experience multiple forms of oppression. In order to explore feelings of intragroup marginalization and its influence on feelings of belonging and sociopolitical involvement, this paper compares and contrasts the sociopolitical involvement among Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander men within LGBT communities of color. As groups that often experience sexuality, race, class, and immigrant based oppression, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men provide the perfect paradigm through which to examine intragroup marginalization and its impact on feelings of belonging within groups who experience similar forms of oppression.

METHOLODOGY

The data used in this study come from a 2010 survey administered by the Social Justice Sexuality Project. The purpose of this project was to collect data on the experiences of LGBT people of color concerning the following five themes: identity (both racial and sexual), physical/mental health, family, religion/spirituality, and sociopolitical involvement. Data were collected from over 5,000 respondents throughout the United States. For this paper 1,414 Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander men were analyzed.

Sample

The 817 Black men within this sample were between 13 and 81 years of age, with a mean age of 37. Three-fifths of the respondents identified as single (60%) and only 22% were parents. Almost all respondents (92%) were born in the United States and most lived in urban areas (77%); 38% lived in the southern part of the United States. The average respondent identified as being politically liberal. In addition, the average respondent had at least some college education and made between $30,000-39,000 per year.

The 406 Latino men in this sample were between the ages of 13 and 78, with a mean age of 32. A little over half of the respondents identified as single (54%) and only 14% were parents. Most respondents (65%) were born in the United States and lived in urban areas (73%) and 12% lived in the southern part of the United States. The average respondent identified as being politically liberal. In addition, the average respondent had at least some college education and made between $20,000-$29,000 per year.

The 191 Asian/Pacific Islander men in this sample ranged in age between 14 and 78, with a mean age of 31. Sixty percent of the respondents identified as single and only one-tenth were parents. A majority of respondents were born in the U.S. (63%). Most respondents lived in urban areas (81%), and only 7% lived in the southern part of the United States. The average respondent identified as being politically liberal. In addition, the average respondent had at least an Associate's degree and made $30,000-$39,999 per year.

Variables

This paper focuses on the correlates of sociopolitical involvement among Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men within LGBT communities of color. In order to measure the relationship between community, identity, and key demographic variables (e.g. age, education, income, etc.) on these men's sociopolitical involvement, multivariate regression analyses were performed.

Sociopolitical involvement was measured by the frequency with which respondents participated in LGBT people of color-focused political, social or cultural events, read newspapers and magazines published by LGBT organizations and groups of color, used social networking Internet sites that are geared toward LGBT people of color, received services from LGBT community of color organizations (such as counseling, etc.), and have donated money to LGBT people of color organizations. The dependent variable, LGBT POC Sociopolitical Involvement, was constructed from these six survey items that measured the frequency of participation in LGBT POC groups, organizations, and activities (alpha = .838).

Literature on community involvement and connectedness leads us to believe that community connectedness and comfort have positive impacts on the civic engagement of both LGBT people (Heath & Mulligan, 2008; Lehavor et al., 2009) and POC (Bobo & Gilliam, 1990; Chung & Probert, 2011; Finlay, Flanagan, & Wary-Lake, 2011). Level of outness also determines one's level of community involvement (Rosario, Schrimshaw, & Hunter, 2004). The level of support that LGBT people feel from their families is not only important for their psychosocial well-being (Newman & Muzzonigro, 1993), but it also influences their level of community involvement (Beaty, 1999). Yet, little is known concerning the impact that community connectedness, outness, family support, as well as comfort in LGBT and racial communities have on one's sociopolitical involvement.

Previous research also examines the influence of identity on the community engagement of gay men (Flores et al., 2009; Han, 2007) and finds that the importance of sexual identity has a positive impact on civic engagement among lesbians and gays. Research maintains that racial identity has a positive impact on the civic engagement of POC (Bobo & Gilliam, 1990). To date, research overlooks the importance of identity, more specifically, sexual and racial identity on the community engagement, and, in particular, the sociopolitical involvement of Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men.

Seven independent variables that measure community and identity were included in this analysis. Five of the independent variables measured community connectedness, levels of comfort and support, and outness. Two independent variables measured the importance of sexual and racial identity. Connected to LGBT Community is the first independent variable, created from three combined survey items (alpha = .777) that measured how connected respondents felt to the LGBT community, other LGBT people, and the problems facing the LGBT community as a whole. The second independent variable, Outness, consists of six items (alpha = .896) that examine the estimated number of people a respondent is "out" to (or open about one's sexuality) within various social settings, like with their family, friends, religious community, co-workers, neighbors, and within their online communities. The third independent variable, Family Support, measured the level of support respondents felt from their families. Comfort in LGBT Communities and Comfort in Racial Communities were flipped and originally asked respondents how "uncomfortable" they were in LGBT communities because of their race/ethnicity or sexual identity. These independent variables research the frequency with which respondents felt uncomfortable in the LGBT community because of their race and uncomfortable in their racial/ethnic communities because of their sexual identity. The final two independent variables measured identity. Sexual Identity Importance measured how important the respondent's sexual orientation is to his identity; and Racial Identity Importance measured how important the respondent's race/ethnicity is to his identity. Demographic variables were also examined. These include relationship status, whether or not a respondent is a parent, age, whether or not a respondent is foreign born, if he is a resident of an urban, suburban, or rural area, and if he is a resident of the southern part of the U.S. Political views, education level, and income were also included.

Models

In order to explore the effects of community connectedness and identity on the LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement of gay and bisexual Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander men, six models were run--two for each racial group. The first models (I, III, and V) examined community connectedness variables, and the second models (II, IV, and VI) added identity variables.

RESULTS

While the larger dataset was developed to examine the experiences of LGBT POC (e.g., Black, Latina/o, and Asian/Pacific Islanders), of all ages over 18, and of all gender expressions (e.g., women, men, transgender, and more), this paper focuses on the subsample of Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men who gave valid answers to all of the questions employed in this analysis. Thus, a sample of 1,414 men of color was drawn.

The multivariate analyses yielded some unexpected results. None of the demographic variables impacted LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement for any of the groups of men studied (see footnote on Table 2). According to Models I and II, Black men who felt more connected to the LGBT community and who felt comfortable in their racial communities had higher levels of LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement. Family support and comfort in LGBT communities had no impact on LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement. Interestingly, when the identity variables were introduced, all of these relationships held (see Model II), but neither racial identity nor sexual identity mattered for the LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement of Black gay and bisexual men. Overall, the strongest predictor of LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement for Black gay and bisexual men is connection to the LGBT community.

The third and fourth models examined LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement among Latino men. As with the Black men in the sample, those Latinos who felt more connected to the LGBT community and who felt comfortable in their racial communities had higher levels of LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement. However, the level of comfort these men had with the LGBT community negatively affected their level of LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement. In addition, unlike the Black men in the sample, Latino men who felt their racial or ethnic status was an important part of their identity also had higher levels of LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement (see Model IV). Family support and believing that sexual identity is important had no impact on LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement.

The final two models examined sociopolitical involvement among Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men in the sample. Like the Black and Latino men in the sample, connectedness to the LGBT community positively impacted LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement. As with Latino men, and unlike the Black men in the sample, comfort in LGBT communities had a negative impact on the LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement of Asian/Pacific Islander men (see Model V). Interestingly, however, and unlike the Black men and Latinos in the sample, the only relationship that maintained consistency with the introduction of the identity variables was connectedness to the LGBT community (see Model VI). Among Asian/Pacific Islander men, believing that racial status is an important part of their identity had a positive impact on their LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement, which was similar to the relationship observed for Latino men.

DISCUSSION

The analysis presented in this paper provides an interesting account of the experiences of Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men and their LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement. The findings support some previous research, while calling others into question. For example, findings support the research which maintained that sociopolitical involvement is often determined by the sense of belonging that one feels with community (Flores et al., 2009; Heath & Mulligan, 2008). However, the findings here contradict research arguing that demographic variables such as age, income, and education were important in determining one's level of community engagement (Putnam, 2000; Sander & Putnam, 2006; Verba et al., 1995). Surprisingly, these variables did not impact the sociopolitical involvement of any of these groups of men. These contradictions may exist because of how previous research measures civic engagement versus how we measure sociopolitical involvement, and/or because, whereas that literature focuses on the general population, regardless of racial/ethnic backgrounds or sexual identity, this paper is focused on Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men. No matter, the discrepancy between that research and the findings of this paper highlights the need for a more elaborate investigation. More data collection of these understudied populations can help us better situate these findings. Longitudinal data projects that examine how sociopolitical involvement changes as men age, for example, are needed. Additionally, future research examining sociopolitical involvement should ask more in-depth demographic questions so that research can better examine the impact of sexual identity and racial identity on sociopolitical involvement.

The Sense of Belonging: Connectedness and Comfort

As measured in this paper, the sense of belonging to community includes an examination of such things as levels of connectedness to the LGBT community, "being out" to various people in one's life, having family support, and being comfortable in at least two different settings: the LGBT community and the person's racial/ethnic community. For Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men, being connected to the LGBT community was a significant predictor of LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement. But for Latino men, this was not the most powerful predictor. For them, being comfortable in LGBT communities (most powerful, beta = -.198) and being comfortable in racial/ethnic communities (second most powerful, beta = .163) mattered more than being connected to the LGBT community. For Asian/Pacific Islander men, being connected to the LGBT community mattered and was the most powerful predictor of sociopolitical involvement.

Together, these findings suggest that a sense of belonging to community matters for Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men. In particular, this matters when trying to increase levels of civic participation and engagement for LGBT POC communities. In other words, those groups, organizations, and institutions working to foster a sense of community engagement within LGBT POC communities--whether in the field of politics (getting out the vote for elections), culture (raising awareness of the unique histories and contributions of LGBT POC in this country), or even health (fostering healthier living habits and practices)--must first acknowledge that connections to the LGBT community is important for Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men. Signaling and highlighting this connection to the LGBT community is one way of increasing the participation of gay and bisexual men of color.

Racial and Sexual Identity

The research on LGBT people of color indicates that racial and sexual identity cannot be fully understood as separate categories. Instead, these social statuses are to be analyzed relationally and holistically. Further, as the theory and research on intersectionality and marginalization shows, individuals often experience multiple forms of oppression that cannot be separated. Still, for this paper, we were interested in the unique ways in which to increase participation, engagement, and involvement in one particular setting: The LGBT POC community. In particular, we were interested in understanding the unique experiences of men of color. To that end, we found that, when predicting sociopolitical involvement, the importance of racial/ethnic identity in the lives of gay and bisexual men of color only mattered for Latinos and for Asian/Pacific Islanders. In other words, while all groups of men included in this paper may believe that their racial/ethnic identity is an important part of their lives, this factor was only significant for Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander men when trying to predict sociopolitical involvement. Organizers, service providers, and cultural producers interested in increasing awareness of LGBT POC issues may want to include aspects of racial/ethnic importance when speaking to Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men.

Demographics

Previous research revealed that education level, income, and age were each positively related to increases in levels of sociopolitical engagement. Surprisingly, the research presented in this paper cannot confirm such relations with regard to Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men and their engagement with LGBT POC communities. There may be several reasons for this. First, data on the demographic characteristics of gay and bisexual men of color have not been collected in a consistent manner. Longitudinal research and data collection projects that seek to understand these characteristics over a period of time can aid in contextualizing the findings discussed in this paper. Second, though data for our study were collected from individuals across the country, they may be reflective of the segment of people who already participate in civic, social, and cultural events for LGBT POC communities. In other words, in order to understand if demographic characteristics really matter, data must be collected from people who do not participate as well as from those who do participate in LGBT POC community events. Third, our findings do not confirm what previous research has found because this type of data collection has not previously been done. More data collection is needed on the demographic features of LGBT people so researchers can better examine the impact that sexual orientation plays on the sociopolitical involvement of this population.

Sociopolitical Involvement of Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander Gay and Bisexual Men

Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men are active in LGBT POC communities. This paper explores some of the ways in which these relationships can be understood and strengthened. For example, in comparing the sociopolitical involvement of the men in the sample population, data indicate that Latino men are different from Black men and Asian/Pacific Islander men. For Latino men, the most powerful predictor of sociopolitical involvement is comfort in LGBT communities; it is not connection to LGBT communities. Among the Asian/Pacific Islander men and Black men, the most powerful predictor is connection to LGBT communities. Apparently, for Latino men, their sociopolitical involvement is based on them feeling comfortable in LGBT communities, not connected to these communities. Interestingly, many more variables (Connected to LGBT Community, Comfort in LGBT Communities, Comfort in Racial Communities, and Racial Identity Importance) impacted the LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement of Latinos than that of Black or Asian/Pacific Islander men in the sample. Comfort in Racial Communities only impacted the LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement of Black and Latino men and did not influence the involvement of Asian/Pacific Islander men. Among Asian/Pacific Islander men, connectedness to the LGBT community positively impacted LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement in both Models V and VI. However, among Asian/Pacific Islander men, comfort in LGBT communities negatively impacted their LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement; yet, this relationship was not statistically significant once the identity variables were introduced in Model VI.

These discrepancies found concerning Comfort in Racial Communities among Black men and Latinos in the sample compared to the Asian/Pacific Islander men could possibly be explained by the perceptions surrounding homosexuality as an identity among Asian/Pacific Islander men. Research argues that the stigma associated with homosexuality is due to the belief that homosexuality is a "White, western phenomenon" (Chan, 1989, p.68). Additionally, in some Asian/Pacific Islander cultures, sexuality is not a means by which to identify oneself (Asthana & Oostvogels, 2001; Laurent, 2005).

These findings suggest that sociopolitical involvement is directly related to how comfortable and connected one feels to a community. However, we found that Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men are less likely to participate in LGBT communities of color if they feel comfortable in mainstream LGBT communities. However, this does change for the Asian/Pacific Islander men once the identity variables are introduced. Here, arguably, feelings of alienation operate uniquely and very differently for these three groups of men. These findings hold important implications for research examining the importance of LGBT community level support and sexual risk-taking behaviors of gay men as previous research indicates that there is a correlation between having strong ties to the gay community and safe sex behaviors (Joseph, Adib, Joseph, & Tal, 1991 ; Prieur, 1990). Indeed, the process merits further investigation.

CONCLUSION

Without a doubt, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men belong to many different communities. This paper attempts to understand the factors that affect the levels of sociopolitical engagement of these men and their associations with LGBT POC communities. The implications of this study are particularly interesting because the most important variable for LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement among these three groups of men is simply feeling connected, in particular to the LGBT community. Far too often, intersections of race and sexuality keep gay and bisexual Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander men hidden from view in much of the research literature. This paper is intended to help address this erasure by focusing on a sample within the Social Justice Sexuality project--one of the largest national surveys of the LGBT community--and by expanding the knowledge of the experiences of LGBT persons of color. The current research highlights the importance of feeling connected to the LGBT community and its role in acting as a conduit to LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement for all of the men examined. Interestingly, for the Latino men and for the Asian/Pacific Islander men in the sample, comfort in LGBT communities served as a barrier to their LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement. In essence, it appears as if these men are choosing between their race and their sexuality. This merits further investigation in order to examine whether this occurs because of psychological or social/structural reasons. Intersectionality, the interaction of various identities, such as race, gender, and sexuality, teaches us that no one should have to decide which part of their identity is "most" important. To empower and affect change in the lives of all men and the communities they touch, we need to create a space where men, and all of their identities, are welcomed and not just men who are willing to foreground one identity (e.g., race) over the other (e.g., sexuality).

As this paper was focused on sociopolitical involvement and feelings of belonging to LGBT communities, it did not fully inquire about respondents' connectedness, or feelings of belonging to POC communities; however, it did assess comfort in racial communities based on their sexual orientation. Future research should examine whether feelings of belonging within POC communities would be as important as feelings of belonging within LGBT communities in impacting engagement in LGBT POC communities. This may help shed light on the importance of the LGBT community for these groups of men. Future research could also examine the influence of community connectedness to both activist and non-activist volunteerism within LGBT POC communities. In addition, future qualitative research might investigate how these different groups of men understand their level of connection to their community, their racial and sexual identity, and its effect on their own levels of multiple types of sociopolitical involvement.

As this research indicates, among these men of color, age, income, and education do not appear to significantly impact their sociopolitical involvement. As the geopolitical map within the United States changes (as evidenced in the most recent presidential election), it would behoove researchers to understand why these variables do not matter among these particular populations. Groups hoping to either increase or take advantage of the sociopolitical involvement of these men should consider the following suggestions.

Organizations for LGBT POC are numerous and include such national groups as the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), Unid@s, and the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA). The data presented in this study can be especially helpful in aiding in the recruitment and organizing efforts of these groups as they work to encourage sociopolitical involvement among communities of Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men. For example, as the data presented in this paper indicate, the LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement of the Latino men in the sample is heavily influenced by their comfort in LGBT communities, and among the Black and Asian/Pacific Islander gay and bisexual men in the sample, connection to the LGBT community was important. This paper underscores the need to continue efforts that strengthen connection to--and comfort in--LGBT communities. Highlighting ways in which Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander men are connected to, and comfortable in, LGBT communities is key to increasing LGBT POC sociopolitical involvement.

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ANGELIQUE HARRIS (1), JUAN BATTLE (2), ANTONIO (JAY) PASTRANA, JR. (3), and JESSIE DANIELS (4)

(1) Department of Social and Cultural Sciences, Marquette University.

(2) Sociology Department, Graduate Center, CUNY.

(3) Department of Sociology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.

(4) Urban Public Health, Hunter College. CUNY.

Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Angelique Harris, Marquette University, Department of Social and Cultural Sciences, P.O. Box 1881, Milwaukee, WI 53201. Email: angelique.harris@ marquette.edu

DOI: 10.3149/jms.2103.236
Table 1

Descriptive Statistics and Description of Variables for
Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander Gay and
Bisexual Men (N = 1,414)

Variable                         Mean      S.D.      Range

Dependent Variable
LGBT POC Sociopolitical
  Involvement (Alpha = .838)      2.81      1.20      1-6

COMMUNITY
Connected to LGBT Community
(Alpha = .777)                    4.03      1.32      1-6

Outness (Alpha = .896)            3.54      1.18      1-5

Family Support                    4.32      1.65      1-6

Comfort in LGBT Communities       4.13      1.61      1-6

Comfort in Racial Communities     3.64      1.60      1-6

IDENTITY
Sexual Identity Importance        4.63      1.56      1-6

Racial Identity Importance        4.37      1.67      1-6

Demographics
Relationship Status               0.589     0.49      0-1

Parental Status                   0.180     0.384     0-1

Respondent is
Age                              35.63     12.28     13-81
Foreign Born                      0.191     0.393     0-1

Urbanicity                        0.769     0.421     0-1
Resident of the South             0.272     0.445     0-1

Political Views                   2.30      1.33      1-6
Level of Education                4.34      1.76      1-7

Income                            7.75      3.42      1-12

Variable                         Description: SJS Variable Label

Dependent Variable
LGBT POC Sociopolitical
  Involvement (Alpha = .838)     Involvement in groups,
                                   organizations, and activities
COMMUNITY
Connected to LGBT Community
  (Alpha = .777)                 Connected to LGBT Community/
                                   People
Outness (Alpha = .896)           How many people within the
                                   following communities are you
                                   "out" to: family, friends,
                                   religious community, co-workers,
                                   etc.
Family Support                   As a LGBT person, how much do
                                   you now feel supported by your
                                   family
Comfort in LGBT Communities      How often have you felt
                                   uncomfortable in your LGBT
                                   community because of your race or
                                   ethnicity [variable flipped]
Comfort in Racial Communities    How often have you felt
                                   uncomfortable in your racial or
                                   ethnic community because of your
                                   sexual identity [variable flipped]
IDENTITY
Sexual Identity Importance       Do you feel that your sexual
                                   orientation is an important part
                                   of your identity?
Racial Identity Importance       Do you feel that your racial or
                                   ethnic status is an important
                                   part of your identity?
Demographics
Relationship Status              Relationship status (Reference:
                                   Partnered/Married)
Parental Status                  Role as parent/guardian (Reference:
                                   Never parented)
Respondent is
Age                              Age of respondent
Foreign Born                     What is your citizenship status
                                   (Reference: U.S. Born)
Urbanicity                       Are you a big city resident?
Resident of the South            Are you from the southern part of
                                   the U.S.?
Political Views                  What are your political views?
Level of Education               What is the highest level of
                                   schooling you have completed?
Income                           What was your total household
                                   income last year?

Table 2
Unstandardized Regression Coefficients for LGBT
POC Sociopolitical Involvement Among Black, Latino,
and Asian/Pacific Islander Gay and Bisexual Men
(betas in parentheses)

                                             Black Men
                                             (N = 817)

                                 Model I             Model II (a)
Independent Variables

COMMUNITY
Connected to LGBT Community       .222 *** (.259)     .210 *** (.245)
Outness                           .026 (.026)         .014 (.015)

Family Support                    .037 ([dagger])     .035 ([dagger])
                                   (.054)              (.052)
Comfort in LGBT Communities      -.036 ([dagger])    -.034 ([dagger])
                                   (-.051)             (-.048)
Comfort in Racial Communities     .071 ** (.096)      .077 ** (.104)
IDENTITY
Sexual Identity Importance                            .037 ([dagger])
                                                       (.052)
Racial Identity Importance                            .002 (.002)
Constant                         1.795 ***           1.686 ***
Adjusted [R.sup.2]                .079               0.079

                                           Latino Men
                                            (N = 406)

                                 Model III           Model IV (b)
Independent Variables

COMMUNITY
Connected to LGBT Community       .172 *** (.180)     .152 ** (.159)
Outness                           .013 (.012)         .009 (.008)

Family Support                    .017 (.022)         .013 (.016)

Comfort in LGBT Communities      -.165 (-.217)       -.150 *** (-.198)

Comfort in Racial Communities     .111 ** (.144)      .126 *** (.163)
IDENTITY
Sexual Identity Importance                            .003 (.003)

Racial Identity Importance                            .079 * (.107)
Constant                         2.167 ***           1.813 ***
Adjusted [R.sup.2]                .066                .072

                                    Asian/Pacific Islander Men
                                             (N = 191)

                                 Model V             Model VI (c)
Independent Variables

COMMUNITY
Connected to LGBT Community       .198 * (.191)       .183 * (.177
Outness                           .137 ([dagger])     .126 ([dagger])
                                   (.130)              (.120)
Family Support                   -.077 ([dagger])    -.085 ([dagger])
                                   (-.106)             (-.116)
Comfort in LGBT Communities      -.128 * (-.173)     -.114 ([dagger])
                                                       (-.154)
Comfort in Racial Communities     .070 (.096)         .0861 (.118)
IDENTITY
Sexual Identity Importance                           -.043 (-.048)

Racial Identity Importance                            .123 * (.167)
Constant                         1.717 ***           1.394 **
Adjusted [R.sup.2]                .067                .078

([dagger]) p [less than or equal to] .10
* p [less than or equal to] .05
** p [less than or equal to] .01
*** p [less than or equal to] .001.

(a) The following demographic variables were included:
single, has ever parented, age, foreign born, big city
resident, south resident, political views, education, and
income. Although has ever parented and big city resident
were significant, they did not impact the above results.

(b) The following demographic variables were included:
single, has ever parented, age, foreign born, big city
resident, south resident, political views, education, and
income. Although south resident was significant, it did not
impact the above results.

(c) The following demographic variables were included:
single, has ever parented, age, foreign born, big city
resident, south resident, political views, education, and
income. None was significant, however, and did not impact
the above results.
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Date:Sep 22, 2013
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