Objectives: Research on sexual minority health lack examinations of how sexual orientation intersects with other identities, including racial/ethnic identity, to shape health outcomes among U.S. adults. This study examines how health status and health behavior varies for gay, lesbian, and bisexual men and women who identify as non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaskan Native. By examining health and health behaviors within and across sexual minority subgroups, our study reports on race/ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation specific health risks.
Methods: We respond to shortcomings in current data by utilizing aggregated data from fourteen states from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) collected between 2005 and 2010 (n = 557,773). We investigated the odds of reporting poorer health, current cigarette smoking, and obesity by sexual orientation within race/ethnic and gender subgroups; all statistical analyses were performed in 2016.
Results: Results suggest persistent health and behavior disadvantages for lesbian and bisexual women of all racial and ethnic identities, relative to heterosexuals. Some of the heightened odds are extreme. Asian/Pacific Islander lesbian (OR = 3.92) and bisexual (OR = 4.61) women, for example, have 4.0 times higher odds of smoking than heterosexual A/PI women. Results for men are more variable. To illustrate, the odds of obesity for White and A/PI men are indistinguishable between bisexuals and heterosexuals, and Black and American Indian/Alaskan Native bisexuals have lower odds of obesity than their heterosexual counterparts.
Conclusion: These findings highlight the need for policy efforts aimed at improving health and health behaviors among lesbian and bisexual women across groups, and more targeted efforts among sexual minority men.