Seek help for substance abuse

Gay and bisexual men might face unique risk factors for substance abuse, such as:

  • Relying on bars and clubs for socializing and peer support
  • Stress related to passing as a heterosexual or coming out
  • Trauma due to bullying, violence, abuse or self-abuse
  • Impact of discrimination

If you have a substance abuse concern, remember that help is available. Local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health, mental health or community centers often provide substance abuse treatment. Organizations such as the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association also may provide referrals.

Recognize domestic violence

Domestic violence can affect anyone in an intimate relationship. Warning signs specific to gay men might include a partner who:

  • Threatens to tell friends, loved ones, colleagues or community members your sexual orientation
  • Tells you that authorities won't help a sexual minority person
  • Tells you that leaving the relationship means you're admitting that same-sex relationships are deviant
  • Tells you that domestic violence is a normal part of same-sex relationships or that men are naturally violent

Staying in an abusive relationship might leave you depressed, anxious or hopeless. If you don't want to disclose your sexual orientation, you might be less likely to seek help after an assault. Still, the only way to break the cycle of domestic violence is to take action — the sooner the better.

If you're a target of domestic violence, tell someone about the abuse, whether it's a friend, loved one, health care provider or other close contact. Consider calling a domestic violence hotline and creating a plan to leave your abuser.

Make routine health care a priority

Don't let fear of homophobia or the stigma associated with homosexuality prevent you from seeking routine health care. Instead, take charge of your health.

Look for a doctor who puts you at ease. Identify yourself as gay or bisexual, and ask about routine screenings recommended for men in your age group — such as blood pressure and cholesterol measurements and screenings for prostate, testicular and colon cancer.

If you're not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship, schedule regular screenings for sexually transmitted infections. Share any other health concerns you might have with your doctor as well. Early diagnosis and treatment help promote long-term health.

Aug. 15, 2014 See more In-depth