Sexual Minority People’s Perspectives of Sexual Health Care: Understanding Minority Stress in Sexual Health Settings

McKenna K. Gessner, Meg D. Bishop, Alexander Martos, Bianca D.M. Wilson, Stephen T. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Introduction: Sexual minority individuals (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual people) face sexual health inequalities related to their experiences with providers in sexual health care settings, yet few prior studies have focused on these experiences. Methods: Thematic content analysis was used to analyze qualitative interviews with a diverse sample of 58 sexual minority individuals from three cohorts in the USA to explore sexual minority people’s perspectives of sexual health care. Subgroup differences in themes across gender, sexual identity, race/ethnicity, and cohort were also assessed. Results: Our analysis revealed four key themes: erasure, enacted stigma, felt stigma, and affirmative care. Women and genderqueer participants reported erasure in the context of identity dismissal in family planning conversations, and men reported felt stigma in the context of hyperawareness of sexual minority identity. Some sexual minority people of color also reported intersectional felt stigma as a result of multiple marginalized identities. Additionally, fewer men reported erasure compared with women or genderqueer people and fewer gay and lesbian participants reported erasure than bisexual or queer people. Conclusions: The sexual health care experiences of sexual minority people are characterized by erasure, stigma, and affirmative care, with important differences in erasure and stigma across subpopulations of sexual minority people. Policy Implications: Implications of these findings include the need for more sexual minority health initiatives and training and the development of affirmative care practices for sexual minority populations, including those with multiple marginalized identities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-618
Number of pages12
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Bisexual
  • Erasure
  • Gay
  • Health disparities
  • Lesbian
  • Sexual health
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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