Although racial sexual exclusivity among Black gay, bisexual, and other sexual minority men (SMM) is frequently framed as a cause of HIV inequities, little research has examined how these sexual relationships may be driven by and protective against racism. This study examined associations between general racial discrimination, Black sexual exclusivity, sexual racial discrimination, and depressive symptoms among Black SMM. We conducted analyses on cross-sectional self-report data from 312 cisgender Black SMM in the U.S. Deep South who participated in the MARI study. Measures included general racial and sexual identity discrimination, race/ethnicity of sexual partners, sexual racial discrimination, and depressive symptoms. We estimated a moderated-mediation model with associations from discrimination to Black sexual exclusivity, moderated by discrimination target, from Black sexual exclusivity to sexual racial discrimination, and from sexual racial discrimination to depressive symptoms. We tested an indirect effect from racial discrimination to depressive symptoms to examine whether Black sexual exclusivity functioned as an intervening variable in the associations between racial discrimination and depressive symptoms. Results indicated that participants who experienced racial discrimination were more likely to exclusively have sex with Black men. Men with higher Black sexual exclusivity were less likely to experience sexual racial discrimination and, in turn, reported lower depressive symptoms. The indirect pathway from racial discrimination to depressive symptoms through Black sexual exclusivity and sexual racial discrimination was significant. Our results suggest that one of the drivers of sexual exclusivity among Black SMM may be that it helps to protect against the caustic psychological effects of racial discrimination.
Racial discrimination, sexual partner race/ethnicity, and depressive symptoms among Black sexual minority men