ONLINE AND REAL LIFE COMMUNITIES OF LESBIAN, GAY, AND BISEXUAL PEOPLE: INTERNALIZED HOMONEGATIVITY, LIFE SATISFACTION, AND SEXUAL RISK TAKING
Welch, James Christopher
Shin, Richard Q
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Previous research has demonstrated potential benefits provided to LGB people through affiliation with a larger LGB community (Sheets & Mohr, 2009; Halpin & Allen, 2004; Davidson et al., 2017). However, LGB people living in rural areas or who otherwise lack access to LGB communities may have difficulty accessing these benefits (De La Cruz, 2018; Oswald & Culton, 2003; Bachmann & Simon, 2014). With the advent of the digital age, humans are able to interact in new, virtual spaces that circumvent many of the difficulties associated with gathering in real-world spaces (boyd & Ellison, 2008). However, the ways humans are able to interact in virtual, online spaces remains relatively understudied. This study sought to explore potential similarities of benefits provided by real life and online communities as they relate to internalized homonegativity and life satisfaction, and to explore how sexual risk taking may be associated with affiliation with online communities in an internet recruited sample of LGB people. LGB persons’ affiliations with online communities of LGB people were not significantly related to sexual risk taking, life satisfaction, or internalized homonegativity. Affiliation with real life LGB community was significantly related to only life satisfaction. Life satisfaction was significantly related to sexual risk taking. Online and real life LGB community affiliation were significantly correlated. Limitations, implications, and future directions are discussed.