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The impact of sexual orientation microaggressions on substance use of sexual minority college students

Phrases like “that’s so gay” and “no homo” are unfortunately common among young Americans and are often used by students on college campuses. Sayings such as these are microaggresions towards homosexuality and can negatively impact students who identify as a sexual minority.


Previous research has suggested that LGBT+ college students are at a higher risk for substance use, and a recent study looked specifically at substance use in relation to hearing negative phrases around campus. This study included data from multiple institutions, and gathered information on LGBT+ students through an online survey.

The results indicated that 63.9% of the participants had heard the phrase “that’s so gay” occasionally or very frequently on campus. 51.6% of the students reported hearing “no homo” occasionally of very frequently as well. Hearing the phrases “that’s so gay” and “no homo” increase the likelihood of hazardous alcohol use by up to 22%, and increase illicit drug use as well.

Overall, hearing microaggressions such as “that’s so gay” and “no homo” around campus can make LGBT+ students feel discriminated against, which can add to their chronic stress and lead to substance abuse. Though many who use these phrases do not do so with bad intentions, it is important to know the negative consequences that students may face as a result.

Take Away: LGBT+ college students who hear phrases such as “no homo” are more likely to engage in hazardous alcohol use and illicit drug use.

Winberg, C., Coleman, T., Woodford, M.R., et al. (2018). Hearing “That’s So Gay” and “No Homo” on Campus and Substance Use Among Sexual Minority College Students. Journal of Homosexuality. doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2018.1542208

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