Why Do Gay Teens Binge Drink?

3111kghWOHLI’m gay. And I don’t drink alcohol.

For a lot of people in the gay world, a proclamation as such is met with suspicion. The follow-up question is usually, “But not ever? Ever?”

Alcoholism seems to run in my family. My great-grandfather was a terrible alcoholic and very abusive toward my great-grandmother and grandfather. As the recipient of this abuse, my grandfather promised himself that he’d never drink. He kept this promise his entire life - even while serving as a bombardier during World War II.

When I was entering my teenage years, my grandfather encouraged me to make a similar promise. And so I did. Aside from a sip of alcohol from my dad’s beer when I was a 4 or 5, I’ve never tasted alcohol.

My story aside, it seems that alcohol plays a very central role in the gay and lesbian community. To be fair, alcohol plays a central role for many people - gay or straight - but, in the gay world, alcohol seems to be an especially celebrated focal point. Where there are gays, there is often alcohol consumption. In fact, according to a study by Laurie A. Drabble, PhD, 75% of gay people identify as current drinkers versus 59% of straights. On average, gay people drink 16% more than straight people.

Just last week, a new study was presented by the Pediatric Academic Society during their annual meeting in Vancouver, BC. It’s the first of its kind to explore the relationship between binge drinking and minority stress experiences - like gay-related victimization and homophobia - in gay teenagers. According to the study, chronic stress caused by difficult social situations can be attributed to higher rates of binge drinking in gay and lesbian teenagers versus their straight peers.

Gay or straight, alcohol abuse is a large and complicated problem. Beyond sabotaging your gym results, alcoholism can wreak havoc on many areas of your life. But studies like these may lead to tailored treatment and prevention approaches rooted in the unique experiences of higher risk populations - including the gay and lesbian community.

What do you think? Do you think alcohol abuse is a big problem in the gay and lesbian community?

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  1. I’ve noticed for years a strong correlation between “risky behaviors” and addiction in young gay men and lack of acceptance from their families.

  2. Nathaniel says:

    Yes. I do. In my town its more because of the fact that the LGBT community is almost non-existant, homophobia isn’t much if a problem around here, only small amounts in the elder generations, but for the most part alcoholism is defenitly a problem in my area, especially for any LGBT members.

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  3. Thank you for sharing these studies. Minority stress plays out in many differnet ways, and it is important to recognize when substance use is also supported by commercial interests (note the significant support of LGBTQ events by alcohol producers). That said, I would stress that responsible drinking in moderation (no more than 7 alcoholic beverages for men, 5 for women, per week) has been associated with added quality years, and those who do drink alcohol tend to have better health outcomes than those who don’t. However, alcohol consumption is not promoted by the medical community as too often, especially in the US, the binge culture overrides the health benefits.

  4. First, it’s nice to meet another guy who is not into drinking. Second, it’s nice to see this topic being discussed. I was at a club a couple weeks ago, and a guy approached me. We had a nice conversation going. Then he asked me what I was drinking. When I said I don’t drink. He expressed shock then just walked away! I think that sums it up.

  5. Charley says:

    You seem to conflate alcohol consumption with binge drinking and alcoholism. They are not the same.

  6. Kyle Forsburg says:

    So there were a few things about this post that bothered me and I felt like I needed to bring them to light. Let’s start with Dr. Drabble’s study. First of all, its almost 12 years old, and the survey is 13-14 years old. Findings from that long ago cannot be used to dictate trends in recent time and surveys are widely known to be fairly inaccurate data gathering tools. Society view of homosexuality has made good strides since then. Second, the study groups showed a huge gap in group size. Heterosexuals provided 96.6% of all participants so unlikely that accurate conclusions could be gleaned from the data. Third, the study found differences in only women of different sexuality, not men. And fourth, what you posted is an abstract. If I can find this many issues with an abstract, I would likely find many more after reading the actual study. While the study from the Pediatric Academy Society may hold more accurate and recent data, you merely posted an article from the Toronto Sun. While I do not know much about the Toronto Sun, I doubt it’s a peer-reviewed journal of much reputation. Honestly, I don’t doubt that homosexual teens tend to drink more than some. The emotion strain of being homosexual at that age is most certainly great. As a gay man myself, I certainly felt it growing up and wasn’t even out yet. Maybe I was lucky that I didn’t turn to alcohol, although unlucky enough to eventually be diagnosed with major depression. My point is this: please don’t misuse scientific material to sell your viewpoint. While I can see the different, not everyone can. Unfortunately, science is not always an upstanding field. Researchers have been unknown to falsify and exaggerate conclusions to further their own agenda, the agendas of those they work for, and the agendas of those who pay for the study. The widespread misconception over vaccination is one example. Although numerous studies have provided large evidence that vaccines (with few exception) do not cause developmental diseases, the one outdated study that falsified data to make that claim caused a lot of harm to the medical community and endangers that lives of many people who ended up not vaccinated. Alcoholism is a terrible disease to experience in any degree, but please please please do not misuse the scientific method just to prove a point. If you choose to post a study, please understand exactly the scope and range of the research you look into and have care to see that it has sound and accurate conclusions.

  7. No. I have not yet experienced the gay or the straight drinking culture in the US, but here in Denmark I would say many teen drinks both gay and straight. And i wouldn’t say anyone I know binge drink(and i do work as a bartender at a bar belonging to the one of the faculties of the university of Copenhagen, so I have served my fair share of teens), but then again its normal here after school to get a beer with a friend.

    Getting a healthy relationship to alcohol is possible, and i’m sorry that you didn’t get it Davey. And i know where your coming from my grandfather and his 3 brothers drank themselves to death, so i know that alcoholism might seem a little scary, but at least stop with the hostile attitude towards alcohol and those who enjoy it occasionally and point towards those who are really abusing it.

  8. So Davey, just out of curiosity, what do you drink when you go out clubbing? Do you stick to water and/or diet soda?

  9. so why do so many gay men smoke so much? i meet guys that swear the are “social smokers”.. what does that even mean? especially the gym queens and circuit boys.. does the alphabet soup crowd really smoke moar, or does it just seem so?

  10. I have gone to bars and had some drinks with friends. I’m a light weight when it comes to drinking and I don’t need to drink to have a good time. I was at my first bear run back in the beginning of April. There was alcohol everywhere. The guys were drinking in the rooms, the hotel pool, even the water park that was rented for an after hours event for us. I met a guy younger than me and the only time I saw him without a drink in his hand was the morning we were all leaving. I had a sip of a friends drink at the water park and that was it.

  11. Drinking is a problem - and I’ve done my fair share of drinking and I use to binge drink and do drugs when I was a teenager into my 20s. Now - I don’t drink at all because it makes me feel bloated and stupid. I don’t spend hours at the gym and maintain a perfect diet to throw it all away at the club. The problem is I have alienated myself from most of my friends. I don’t want to tempt myself. Its hard to find people that adhere to a perfect regimen like I do. Bottom line is that If gay men want to be attractive they should stop drinking so much but they’ll probably never get laid cuz everyone around them is either drunk or high so is it worth it?

  12. NEWSFLASH! Teens binge drink. Duh. Teens are stupid. Out Gay teens will hump, smoke, drink just about anything because we don’t give two fucks about our health. Gay adults have jobs and pets to take care of…ain’t nobody got time for a trip to the emergency room. FYI I was going to type my experience down, but decided a bluntly honest take would be more effective

  13. I think it’s mainly up to peer pressure and insecurity, they think they are expected to drink alcohol when they go out because they might be considered boring when they don’t and they do no want to be considered boring cause boring means no attention, it lets down their guard, and it’s a tool to hide insecurity and low self-confidence. Same with smoking, wanting to be part of a group, posing, Same happens here in Europe. It’s all in the head between the ears and lack of life experience.