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Male sex work (i.e., escorting) is a stigmatized profession and men in the sex industry may hide their involvement to avoid negative social consequences. There is limited research comparing men who are out about being an escort to their friends and/or family with those out to neither friends nor family. Data were taken from a 2013 online study of male escorts who were categorized into three groups based on outness patterns—friends only (48.9%, n = 193), friends and family (26.6%, n = 105), or neither friends nor family (23.5%, n = 93)—and compared on demographic and behavioral variables. We hypothesized that men out to neither friends nor family would perform poorer across indicators of health and wellbeing due to the lack of social support that can come from friends and family. However, with the exception of reporting lower satisfaction and pay from their last male client, this hypothesis was unsupported. Outness patterns were largely unassociated with social and sexual behaviors with the last male client, and the majority eschewed condomless anal sex with their last male client, suggesting escorts—regardless of how out they are to friends and family—could navigate safer sex behaviors with their clients. Outness was associated with substance use (< 12 months) and substance use with their last male client—men out to friends and family were, for the most part, the most likely to have used substances. Men out to friends and family were significantly more likely than others to have been escorting for greater than five years as well as escorting full-time. Interventions for escorts that address substance use and sexual risk behaviors that incorporate supportive friend and family social networks may be an important area for future research.


This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in the International Journal of Sexual Health.

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