Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Title

Social Work Practice with the LGBTQ Community



Publisher Name

Oxford University Press

Publisher Location

New York: NY


Understanding the complex needs of the unique and widely diverse gay male community underscores the importance of practitioners to robustly examine the wide array of sociocultural, lifespan, health and mental health factors. While gay men are a subpopulation of the broader lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, practitioners should realize that they have unique needs associated with their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and gender expression sometimes similar to their LBTQ counterparts but often separate from factors that impact LBTQ individuals. In the same fashion, while gay men may encounter similar life challenges as their nongay counterparts separate from some associations with gender and sex, there are clearly unique issues related to their sexual orientation and other intersecting factors (e.g., race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion/ spirituality, rural/ urban setting, HIV status, etc.). This chapter starts with an examination of the relevant literature associated with cisgender gay men— defined largely as gay men who were born male, ascribe to a male gender and a gay sexual orientation, are not on the transgender spectrum, and do not identify as bisexual or heterosexual. The opening background section explores the relevant literature on this community while tying in relevant historical and sociological events from the twentieth and twenty- first centuries that have influenced their lives and culture, followed by an examination of lifespan considerations from early school age through older adulthood and death and dying; the impact of dating, marriage, and relationships; culture and subculture factors; various health and mental health needs; and best practice approaches for practitioners in the field of health and mental health and across the related disciplines of social work, mental health counseling, psychology, and other related fields. The chapter focuses on the experiences of cisgender gay men from a Western perspective and by no means is meant to imply that the experiences of gay men across the globe is identical or even similar. While some experiences may be shared (e.g., oppression, violence, coming out, etc.), the severity and significance of challenges for gay men across the world may differ from positive affirmation, complete inclusion, and civil equality within their community to the quite negative and opposite extremes of criminalization, imprisonment, or death solely due to the perception or self- identification as a gay man. Last, the term “gay men” is used throughout this chapter as the term “homosexual” has an often diagnostic, negative, or derogatory connotation, history, and meaning for many gay men. The term “homosexual” is only used when appropriate and due to referenced sources or context.




Author Posting. © Oxford University Press 2017. This chapter is posted here by permission of Oxford University Press for personal use, not for redistribution. The chapter was published in Social Work Practice with the LGBTQ Community, 2017,