I am grateful to the National Institute of Mental Health, the Monette-Horwitz Trust, and the University of California at Davis for the support they have provided for my research over the years, and to the American Psychological Association for the opportunities it has afforded me for communicating scientific knowledge to policymakers. I also express my appreciation to my friends and colleagues in the worlds of academia, research, policy, and advocacy—too numerous to name individually—whose work has provided me with inspiration and guidance throughout my professional career. This article is dedicated to Jack Dynis, who helps me to integrate theory and practice in my own life, and makes it immeasurably richer in the process.
Confronting Sexual Stigma and Prejudice: Theory and Practice
Article first published online: 28 NOV 2007
Journal of Social Issues
Volume 63, Issue 4, pages 905–925, December 2007
How to Cite
Herek, G. M. (2007), Confronting Sexual Stigma and Prejudice: Theory and Practice. Journal of Social Issues, 63: 905–925. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2007.00544.x
- Issue published online: 28 NOV 2007
- Article first published online: 28 NOV 2007
This article explores theoretical and applied questions that are relevant to social scientists' efforts to understand and confront sexual stigma. A framework is presented for conceptualizing such stigma as a cultural phenomenon with structural and individual manifestations. The latter include enacted stigma and felt stigma, as well as internalized stigma, which encompasses self-stigma among sexual minorities and sexual prejudice among heterosexuals. Insights suggested by the model for reducing sexual prejudice are discussed. At the structural level, the framework highlights processes whereby heterosexism legitimates and perpetuates sexual stigma and the power differentials that it creates. Social and behavioral scientists, roles in working to eliminate heterosexism are discussed, and psychologists' contributions to court cases challenging state sodomy laws are described. It is argued that confronting sexual stigma will not only address an important social problem but will also enrich scientific understanding of human behavior.