Emerging adulthood is a complex time for anyone. It ranges from late adolescence to one’s mid-twenties – ages when we are seeking to establish our identities in social contexts, and transition from childhood to the expectations and responsibilities of adulthood.

For young adults in sexual minorities, this age of transition can be especially fraught. Physical, emotional, cognitive and social development are coupled with the process of coming out and negotiating a sexual identity in a society that is still homophobic. Researchers consistently observe poor physical and mental health outcomes among gay and lesbian young adults, and these outcomes can be further exacerbated by both racism and poverty.

My own research on young men who have sex with men has found that they are not accessing basic primary care that can keep them healthy.

Young Sexual Minority Men Have Difficulty Accessing Healthcare

Early adulthood is a complex time, and sexual minority young men may also have to contend with the confluence of illicit drug use, unprotected sexual behaviors and mental health burdens – all of which can put them at increased risk of contracting or transmitting STDs. In fact, health challenges such as substance use are higher among lesbian and gay young adults than their heterosexual peers.