Gay Men Talking About Health: Are Sexuality and Health Interlinked?

Published: September 27, 2011


Defining and describing health has traditionally been the role of medical experts. Although a rich literature has recently established the importance of lay accounts of health, one important gap relates to gay men’s accounts of health. Data from 11 focus groups involving 45 gay men were thematically analyzed to investigate gay men’s views of health. Two contrasting positions on a possible relationship between sexuality and health-there is no link or there is a definite link-were identified. In addition, five key ways gay men talked about health were identified: health is the absence of disease, is functional ability, is fitness and exercise, is psychological, and is multifaceted. Although there are similarities in the ways gay and other men talk about health, important differences exist, which suggest that issues of sexuality need to be considered by health policy and service planners so that responsive health services can be provided.

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