Academic journal article The Journal of Men's Studies

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

Academic journal article The Journal of Men's Studies

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

Article excerpt

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. …

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