Surviving Racist Culture: Strategies of Managing Racism among Gay Men of Colour - An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
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Racism, a unique source of stress, occupies a peripheral point of analysis in the literature on gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) health research. Canadian investigators have not examined the coping strategies that non-White gay men use. Lacking knowledge of the groups coping responses overlooks the dynamics of resistance and prevents interventions for addressing racism from being developed. The current studys aims were to explore the contexts in which gay men of colour experienced gay-specific racism; to investigate their understanding of factors contributing to the experience of racism; and to examine strategies they used to manage the stress of racism. Foregrounding issues of White supremacy and racial oppression, the study used frameworks from critical race and queer theories and minority stress theory, integrating insights from the psychological model of stress and coping. Data were collected in Ottawa, Canada, employing focus groups and in-depth interviews with 13 gay men who identified as Black, East Asian, South Asian, and Arab/Middle Eastern. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), the study concluded that racism was pervasive in Ottawas GLB community, at individual, institutional, and cultural levels. Racial-cultural socialization processes were found to influence racist attitudes and practices. Racisms subtle, insidious forms undermined discrimination claims by gay men of colour, in that White gay men denied any racist attitudes and actions. In general, participants used problem- and emotion-focused coping techniques to moderate the impact of racism. The value of social support for coping with the stress of racism was highlighted, revealing a vacuum of care in public health and social work practice with gay men of colour. Social workers and allied health professionals should neither view the experiences of gay men of colour through the lens of sexual orientation alone, nor focus solely on sexual behaviours that place them at risk of HIV/AIDS. In doing so, they would risk not only discounting the complexities of the mens lives, but also sustaining and perpetuating a life without potentialities beyond deficit. The implications and limitations as well as recommendations for future study are discussed.