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Sexual minority

A sexual minority is a demographic whose sexual identity, orientation or practices differ from the majority of the surrounding society. Primarily used to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, or non-heterosexual individuals,[1][2] it can also refer to transgender,[3] non-binary (including third gender[4]) or intersex individuals.

Variants include GSM ("Gender and Sexual Minorities"),[5] GSRM ("Gender, Sexual and Romantic Minorities"),[6][7] and GSD (Gender and Sexual Diversity).[8] They have been considered in academia,[a] but it is SGM ("Sexual and Gender Minority") that has gained the most advancement in the United States since 2014.[9] In 2015, the NIH announced the formation of the Sexual and Gender Minority Research Office[10] and numerous professional[11][12] and academic[13][14] institutions have adopted this term.

Sexual and gender minority is an umbrella term that encompasses populations included in the acronym "LGBTI" (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex), and those whose sexual orientation or gender identity varies. It includes those who may not self-identify as LGBTI (e.g., queer, questioning, two-spirit, asexual, men who have sex with men, gender variant), or those who have a specific medical condition affecting reproductive development (e.g., individuals with differences or disorders of sex development, who sometimes identify as intersex).[15]


The term sexual minority most likely was coined in the late 1960s under the influence of Lars Ullerstam's book The Erotic Minorities: A Swedish View, which is strongly in favor of tolerance and empathy to paraphilias such as pedophilia and uncommon sexualities in which people were labeled "sex criminals".[16] The term was used as analogous to ethnic minority.[17][18]

Scientists such as Ritch Savin-Williams support using the term in order to accurately describe adolescent youths who may not identify as any common culturally defined sexual identity label (lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc.) but who still have attractions towards those of the same anatomical sex as themselves.[19]

Associated health and social issues


Social issues may lead to possible health and psychological issues, especially in youth. It has been found that sexual minorities face increased stress due to stigmas. This stigma-related stress creates elevated coping regulation and social and cognitive processes leading to risk for psychopathology.[20] Examples of stigma-related stress that sexual minorities encounter throughout their lives are homophobia, rejection, and discrimination which leads them to having to conceal their identities. Research has shown that about 80% of these individuals reported to have been harassed.[21] These types of negative experiences increase the chance of them developing major depression and generalized anxiety disorder, including an increased chance of drugs and alcohol consumption.

Risky behavior

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published its 2015 study of large cohorts of ninth to twelfth grade students across the U.S. 100 health behaviors were shown to put LGBT students at risk for health consequences. Sexual minority students engage in more risky behaviors when compared with nonsexual minority students. Some students "had no sexual contact [and] were excluded from analyses on sexual behaviors [including] female students who had sexual contact with only females [and] were excluded from analyses on condom use and birth control use..." Also excluded were "male students who had sexual contact with only males [and] were excluded from analyses on birth control use."[2] One small study conducted by American psychologist, Mark L. Hatzenbuehler showed that LGBT adolescents were victimized more often, had higher rates of psychopathology, left home more frequently, used highly addictive substances more frequently, and were more likely to have more multiple sex partners than heterosexual adolescents.[20]


Based on studies of adolescents, it is concluded that sexual minorities are similar to heterosexual adolescents in developmental needs and concerns. However, research has suggested that sexual minority youth (more specifically LGBT youth) are more susceptible to psychological and health issues than heterosexual youth.[22]


Sexual minorities tend to use alternative and complementary medicine as alternative methods of addressing their health needs more often than heterosexuals.[23] Sexual minority women have a higher incidence of asthma, obesity, arthritis and cardiovascular disease than other groups.[24]

Adolescent sexual minorities report a higher incidence of the following when compared to heterosexual students:

  • having feelings of not being safe travelling to and from school or in school
  • not going to school because they did not feel safe.
  • being forced to do sexual things they did not want to do by someone they were dating or going out with one or more times during the 12 months (touching, kissing, or physically forced to have sexual intercourse)
  • having had sexual intercourse
  • having sex for the first time before age 13
  • having had sex with at least four other people
  • not using birth control
  • having had experienced sexual violence[2]

When compared to the general population, sexual minorities have a higher risk for self-injury.[25] The treatment of aging sexual minorities seems to be influenced more by ageism. Support for aging sexual minorities appears to be common.[26]


When gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults reported being discriminated against, 42 percent credited it to their sexual orientation. This discrimination was positively associated with both harmful effects on quality of life and indicators of psychiatric morbidity.[27] Furthermore, those who were bisexuals and homosexuals compared to heterosexuals, tended to report to have one of the five psychiatric disorders examined.[27] It was evident that the discrimination these homosexual individuals experienced had a negative impact leading to psychological changes.

In the media

Sexual minorities are generally portrayed in the mass media as being ignored, trivialized, or condemned. The term symbolic annihilation accounts for their lack of characterization due to not fitting into the white, heterosexual, vanilla type lifestyle. It has been suggested that online media has developed into a space in which sexual minorities may use "social artillery". This description centers on how social networking and connections to oppose instances of homophobia.[28] Still, some individuals have made their way into the media through television and music. TV shows such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Modern Family star individuals who are open about their non-heterosexual lifestyles. In music, people like Sam Smith and Sia have created songs that express their emotions and sexuality with a number of followers. While sexual minorities do have a place in the media, it is often critiqued that they are still limited in their representations. In shows, if a character is gay, they are often a shallow character that is only present for comic relief or as a plot twist. Compared to a heteronormative counterpart, the sexual minority is often a mere side-kick. However, since the integration of actors, musicians, and characters of sexual minorities, the idea of non-normativity has become more normalized in society.[29]

Cultural issues

Current and past research has been "skewed toward SM men—and is disproportionately focused on HIV and other sexually transmitted infections." From 1989 to 2011, numerous grants for research were sponsored and funded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) but funded research for sexual minorities and health made up 0.1% of all funded studies. Most research has been directed toward gay and bisexual men. Women sexual minority studies accounted for 13.5%.[30]

Sexual minorities in South Africa have sexual-orientation-related health inequities when compared to other countries. One of the higher incidents of sexual violence directed toward women of a sexual minority occurs in South Africa. Women of color who are living in low-income, urban areas notably are targeted. The perpetrators of sexual violence believe that they are "correcting the women" and that their actions will cure them of their homosexuality.[30]


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Some referred to as "sexual minorities" include fetishists and practitioners in of BDSM (bondage, dominance, and submission), and sadism and masochism.[19] The term may also include asexual,[31][32] fictosexual[33] and people whose choice of partner or partners is atypical, such as swingers,[34] polyamorists[35] or people in other non-monogamous relationships, and those who have partners significantly older or younger than themselves.[36] It may also refer to people who are in a interracial relationship.

Usually, the term sexual minority is applied only to groups who practice consensual sex: For example, it would be unusual to refer to rapists as a sexual minority, but the term generally could include someone whose sexuality gave a major, fetishized role to consensual playing out of a rape fantasy. Also, someone who occasionally incorporates of consensual kink[35] or same-sex activity into, heterosexual sex life usually would not be described as a sexual minority.

See also

Explanatory notes


  1. ^ Sullivan, Michael K. (2003). Sexual Minorities: Discrimination, Challenges, and Development in America (illustrated ed.). Haworth Social Work Practice Press. ISBN 9780789002358. OL 8151801M. SUMMARY. This chapter explores the cultural, religious, and sociological underpinnings of homophobia and intolerance toward homosexuals.
  2. ^ a b c Kann, Laura; O'Malley Olsen, Emily; McManus, Tim; Harris, William A.; et al. (August 11, 2016). "Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Related Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9–12 — United States and Selected Sites, 2015; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Archived from the original on August 26, 2019. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  3. ^ "Definition of Terms - "Sexual Minority"". Gender Equity Resource Center. Archived from the original on 29 July 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  4. ^ Sharma, Gopal (7 January 2015). "Nepal to issue passports with third gender for sexual minorities". Reuters. Archived from the original on 8 June 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  5. ^ Galloway, Tammy (March 17, 2023). "Gender & Sexual Minorities (GSM): Definition and Stigmas". Archived from the original on March 18, 2023. Retrieved March 17, 2023.
  6. ^ Choudhuri, Devika Dibya; Curley, Kate (2019-09-20), "Multiplicity of LGBTQ+ Identities, Intersections, and Complexities", Rethinking LGBTQIA Students and Collegiate Contexts, Routledge, pp. 3–16, doi:10.4324/9780429447297-1, ISBN 978-0-429-44729-7, S2CID 210355997, archived from the original on 2023-03-23, retrieved 2021-06-09
  7. ^ Lapointe, Alicia (2016), Rodriguez, Nelson M.; Martino, Wayne J.; Ingrey, Jennifer C.; Brockenbrough, Edward (eds.), "Postgay", Critical Concepts in Queer Studies and Education: An International Guide for the Twenty-First Century, Queer Studies and Education, New York: Palgrave Macmillan US, pp. 205–218, doi:10.1057/978-1-137-55425-3_21, ISBN 978-1-137-55425-3, archived from the original on 2023-03-23, retrieved 2021-06-09
  8. ^ Organisation proposes replacing the 'limiting' term LGBT with 'more inclusive' GSD Archived 2018-06-16 at the Wayback Machine, February 25, 2013
  9. ^ "Sexual & Gender Minority Youth in Los Angeles Foster Care, Bianca D.M. Wilson, Khush Cooper, Angeliki Kastanis, Sheila Nezhad, The Williams Institute, 2014 | The Center for HIV Law and Policy". Archived from the original on 2015-03-24. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  10. ^ "Sexual & Gender Minority Research Office | DPCPSI". Archived from the original on 2020-11-12. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  11. ^ "Anxiety and Depression in Sexual and Gender Minority Individuals". Archived from the original on 2018-12-16. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  12. ^ "Advancing Excellence in Sexual and Gender Minority Health | Fenway Health: Health Care Is A Right, Not A Privilege". 8 November 2018. Archived from the original on 2019-03-06. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  13. ^ "Sexual and Gender Minorities in Western Kenya". Williams Institute. 2019-01-30. Archived from the original on 2019-03-06. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  14. ^ "Resources". ISGMH. 2016-11-08. Archived from the original on 2017-02-20. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  15. ^ Archived 2021-03-18 at the Wayback Machine [bare URL PDF]
  16. ^ Lattimer, Julia. "GSM acronym better than LGBT alphabet soup". Collegiate Times. Archived from the original on 11 July 2018. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  17. ^ DeGagne, Alexa (6 October 2011). "Queering the language of 'sexual minorities' in Canada". University of Alberta. Archived from the original on 12 June 2015. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  18. ^ Ullerstam, Lars (1967). The Erotic Minorities: A Swedish View. Calder & Boyars. ISBN 9780714507910. Archived from the original on 23 March 2023. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  19. ^ a b Savin-Williams, Ritch C. "A critique of research on sexual-minority youths." Journal of adolescence 24.1 (2001): 5-13.
  20. ^ a b Hatzenbuehler, Mark L. (2009-09-01). "How does sexual minority stigma "get under the skin"? A psychological mediation framework". Psychological Bulletin. 135 (5): 707–730. doi:10.1037/a0016441. ISSN 1939-1455. PMC 2789474. PMID 19702379.
  21. ^ Lick, David J.; Durso, Laura E.; Johnson, Kerri L. (2013). "Minority Stress and Physical Health Among Sexual Minorities". Perspectives on Psychological Science. 8 (5): 521–548. doi:10.1177/1745691613497965. PMID 26173210. S2CID 24133995.
  22. ^ Cochran, Bryan N.; Stewart, Angela J.; Ginzler, Joshua A.; Cauce, Ana Mari (2002-05-01). "Challenges Faced by Homeless Sexual Minorities: Comparison of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Homeless Adolescents with Their Heterosexual Counterparts". American Journal of Public Health. 92 (5): 773–777. doi:10.2105/AJPH.92.5.773. ISSN 0090-0036. PMC 1447160. PMID 11988446.
  23. ^ Blume, Arthur W. (2016). "Advances in Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Interventions Among Racial, Ethnic, and Sexual Minority Populations". Alcohol Research: Current Reviews. 38 (1): 47–54. PMC 4872612. PMID 27159811.
  24. ^ Simoni, Jane M.; Smith, Laramie; Oost, Kathryn M.; Lehavot, Keren; Fredriksen-Goldsen, Karen (2016). "Disparities in Physical Health Conditions Among Lesbian and Bisexual Women: A Systematic Review of Population-Based Studies". Journal of Homosexuality. 64 (1): 32–44. doi:10.1080/00918369.2016.1174021. ISSN 0091-8369. PMC 5063711. PMID 27074088.
  25. ^ Jackman, Kate; Honig, Judy; Bockting, Walter (2016). "Nonsuicidal self-injury among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations: an integrative review". Journal of Clinical Nursing. 25 (23–24): 3438–3453. doi:10.1111/jocn.13236. ISSN 0962-1067. PMID 27272643.
  26. ^ McParland, James; Camic, Paul M (2016). "Psychosocial factors and ageing in older lesbian, gay and bisexual people: a systematic review of the literature" (PDF). Journal of Clinical Nursing. 25 (23–24): 3415–3437. doi:10.1111/jocn.13251. ISSN 0962-1067. PMID 27167408. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-07-20. Retrieved 2019-02-13.
  27. ^ a b Mays, Vickie M.; Cochran, Susan D. (2001-11-01). "Mental Health Correlates of Perceived Discrimination Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults in the United States". American Journal of Public Health. 91 (11): 1869–1876. CiteSeerX doi:10.2105/AJPH.91.11.1869. ISSN 0090-0036. PMC 1446893. PMID 11684618.[16-years old]
  28. ^ PhD, Paul Venzo; PhD, Kristy Hess (2013-11-01). ""Honk Against Homophobia": Rethinking Relations Between Media and Sexual Minorities". Journal of Homosexuality. 60 (11): 1539–1556. doi:10.1080/00918369.2013.824318. ISSN 0091-8369. PMID 24147586. S2CID 37527336.
  29. ^ "GLOing Depictions of Sexual Minorities: The Evolution of Gay- and Lesbian-Oriented Digital Media | Technoculture". Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  30. ^ a b Muller, Alexandra; Hughes, Tonda L. (2016). "Making the invisible visible: a systematic review of sexual minority women's health in Southern Africa". BMC Public Health. 16 (1): 307. doi:10.1186/s12889-016-2980-6. ISSN 1471-2458. PMC 4827176. PMID 27066890.
  31. ^ Morrison, Todd G.; Morrison, Melanie A.; Carrigan, Mark A.; McDermott, Daragh T., eds. (2012). Sexual Minority Research in the New Millennium (hardcover, illustrated ed.). Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 978-1-61209-939-2.
  32. ^ "Understanding the Asexual Community". HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN. March 17, 2023. Archived from the original on March 14, 2023. Retrieved March 17, 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  33. ^ Liao, SH (2023). "Fictosexual Manifesto: Their Position, Political Possibility, and Critical Resistance". NTU-OTASTUDY GROUP. Archived from the original on 2023-03-12. Retrieved 2023-03-16.
  34. ^ "Polyamory Terms". Loving More Nonprofit. 2012-01-21. Archived from the original on 2023-03-18. Retrieved 2023-03-18.
  35. ^ a b Nichols, Margaret, and M. I. C. H. A. E. L. Shernoff. "Therapy with sexual minorities." Principles and practice of sex therapy 4 (2000): 353-367.
  36. ^ Altair, Octaevius (2011). The Violators: No Human Rights for You (Canada). p. 11. ISBN 9781257378012. Archived from the original on 23 March 2023. Retrieved 12 March 2015. The rights of youth must be protected as well as the rights of Atheists and Sexual minorities. As a Homophile and hebiphile. I engage is sic recreational sex exclusively with teenagers.
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Sexual minority
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