Health Disparities Among Common Subcultural Identities of Young Gay Men: Physical, Mental, and Sexual Health Academic Article uri icon


  • Researchers, policymakers, and health agencies have tended to treat gay men as a relatively homogeneous population, with little attention given to its many subcultural identities. In this study, we focused on young gay men and investigated a range of health-related differences according to common subcultural identities, such as Bear, Cub, and Twink. In a nationwide cross-sectional online survey of 1,034 Australian gay men aged 18-39 years, 44% reported a subcultural identity, the two most common being Cub (9%) and Twink (20%). Logistic and linear regression analyses compared Cub- and Twink-identified men and those without a subcultural identity (Non-identified) on a range of health-related outcomes. After adjusting for differences in age and body mass index (BMI), Twink-identified men had the highest risk profile overall, including significantly higher rates of smoking tobacco and alcohol consumption. They were also significantly more likely to report engaging in receptive anal sex. In addition, Cub-identified men were significantly more likely to report being in an ongoing relationship while Non-identified men were significantly less likely to report experiences of discrimination in the past 12 months. Differences on measures of mental health between the three groups were no longer significant after adjusting for age and BMI. In summary, we found numerous health-related differences according to subcultural identity that warrant further investigation by researchers, health agencies, and others concerned with further understanding and addressing health-related challenges of gay men.

publication date

  • 2014