LGBT Community Connectedness and Alcohol Use
Of growing interest in the study of sexual minority experiences is the concept of community connectedness. Community connectedness reflects the cognitive and affective components of being affiliated with a particular community of similar others. Within the limited work that has been done, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community connectedness has typically been looked at as a predictor of positive outcomes, such as increased psychological well-being. However, there is limited evidence that LGBT community connectedness may be related to higher levels of substance use. This study aimed to explore the relationship that LGBT community connectedness has with alcohol use, taking into account a variety of potential confounding variables, including race, socioeconomic status, religiosity, and positive feelings towards one's sexual orientation. A total of 243 sexual minority participants (19.8% asexual, 29.2% bisexual, 22.2% gay/lesbian, 16.0% pansexual, and 12.8% other) were gathered through the use of targeted online social media advertising. A directed acyclic graph (DAG) was created to identify implications regarding variable covariance. Following the creation of the DAG, the implications were tested using bivariate correlations and the DAG was adjusted based on significant statistical relationships between variables. After the testing of the implications, we tested the hypothesis that LGBT community connectedness would predict alcohol use by regressing alcohol use on community connectedness controlling for the confounding variables identified using the DAG (age, LGB positive identity, race, religiosity, SES, and sexual orientation). The variables accounted for 11.37% variance in alcohol use, and higher community connectedness predicted more alcohol use (b=0.81, SEB=0.33, p=0.01). While connection to the LGBT community is typically explored as a positive form of social support, the current work found positive relationship between community connectedness and alcohol use for sexual minorities. The relationship between LGBT community connectedness and alcohol use should be explored in more depth to understand the pathways between a sense of connection and alcohol use. The work may indicate the need for non-alcohol based LGBT spaces to be more prevalent, so that community connection is not reliant on the use of alcohol-based spaces such as gay bars.
Johnson City, TN
Fredrick, Emma G.; and Williams, Stacey L.. 2017. LGBT Community Connectedness and Alcohol Use. Paper Presentation. Appalachian Student Research Forum, Johnson City, TN.