Although homosexual activity is prevalent among US teenagers, adolescent homosexuality per se has been a poorly understood phenomenon. The purpose of this investigation is to describe the meaning and experience of homosexuality from the adolescent’s perspective. Twenty-nine male teenagers, self-described as gay (79%) or bisexual (21%), volunteered to participate in a structured interview, the purpose of which was to examine the definition of homosexuality, the acquisition of a gay identity, and the impact of sexuality on family, peers, and community. The youths demonstrated well-established sexual identities by the consistency of their sexual fantasies, interests, and behaviors over time. Homosexuality was more frequently described as a general attraction to men (48%) and an indicator of positive personal attributes (33%) than as an isolated sexual behavior. The subjects reported strong negative attitudes from parents (43%) and friends (41%) toward their sexualities. Discrimination (37%), verbal abuse from peers (55%), and physical assaults (30%) were frequently cited problems. These stressors may place the boys at high risk for physical and psychosocial dysfunction.

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