Structural racism and homophobia evaluated through social media sentiment combined with activity spaces and associations with mental health among young sexual minority men

Dustin T. Duncan, Stephanie H. Cook, Erica P. Wood, Seann D. Regan, Basile Chaix, Yijun Tian, Rumi Chunara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Research suggests that structural racism and homophobia are associated with mental well-being. However, structural discrimination measures which are relevant to lived experiences and that evade self-report biases are needed. Social media and global-positioning systems (GPS) offer opportunity to measure place-based negative racial sentiment linked to relevant locations via precise geo-coding of activity spaces. This is vital for young sexual minority men (YSMM) of color who may experience both racial and sexual minority discrimination and subsequently poorer mental well-being. Methods: P18 Neighborhood Study (n = 147) data were used. Measures of place-based negative racial and sexual-orientation sentiment were created using geo-located social media as a proxy for racial climate via socially-meaningfully-defined places. Exposure to place-based negative sentiment was computed as an average of discrimination by places frequented using activity space measures per person. Outcomes were number of days of reported poor mental health in last 30 days. Zero-inflated Poisson regression analyses were used to assess influence of and type of relationship between place-based negative racial or sexual-orientation sentiment exposure and mental well-being, including the moderating effect of race/ethnicity. Results: We found evidence for a non-linear relationship between place-based negative racial sentiment and mental well-being among our racially and ethnically diverse sample of YSMM (p <.05), and significant differences in the relationship for different race/ethnicity groups (p <.05). The most pronounced differences were detected between Black and White non-Hispanic vs. Hispanic sexual minority men. At two standard deviations above the overall mean of negative racial sentiment exposure based on activity spaces, Black and White YSMM reported significantly more poor mental health days in comparison to Hispanic YSMM. Conclusions: Effects of discrimination can vary by race/ethnicity and discrimination type. Experiencing place-based negative racial sentiment may have implications for mental well-being among YSMM regardless of race/ethnicity, which should be explored in future research including with larger samples sizes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115755
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Intersectionality
  • Machine learning
  • Mental health
  • Sexual minority men
  • Social media
  • Socio-spatial self-organizing maps
  • Structural homophobia
  • Structural racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Structural racism and homophobia evaluated through social media sentiment combined with activity spaces and associations with mental health among young sexual minority men'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this