Alcohol use

There is limited research about alcohol use amongst LGB people and research that does exist is sometimes conducted amongst a small number of people. This research does not necessarily depict general patterns of behaviour amongst the LGB community.

 There is also some concern that research has been conducted using samples identified from the “scene” and therefore the participants are more likely to be drinking. There is, however, some evidence about alcohol use amongst the LGB community that can help practitioners deliver effective care to patients.

Traditionally the LGB community has centred on bars and clubs. The limited provisions for LGB people by a local community have encouraged the development of the “scene”. LGB people want to meet other LGB people, and low and high levels of homophobia, and a lack of visibility of gay people in general society, means that LGB people want their own spaces.

Popular culture demonstrates that LGB people congregate in bars and clubs, and therefore many feel that this is the natural place to go and meet other gay people. This is changing; in larger cities it is possible for gay people to meet others without necessarily going to bars and clubs. Yet there is still an emphasis on alcohol consumption and a culture that encourages excessive drinking. Furthermore, in common with generic studies about alcohol, LGB people are as likely to be affected by the trigger factors that prompt binge drinking as any other group.

The difference, however, is that LGB people may not feel targeted by preventative health messages in this area, or feel able to disclose drinking habits and circumstances to a health practitioner. Preventative health messages, and campaigns, are generally only targeted at heterosexual people. LGB people might engage in unprotected sex whilst drunk, or may find themselves in high risk situations. This is the same as heterosexual people, yet campaigns to reduce dangerous alcohol consumption do not address these concerns or communicate that they are relevant to gay people and are therefore not felt to be relevant to LGB people. The messages are therefore less likely to be effective in tackling alcohol consumption amongst LGB people.


  • Accepting ourselves and others: a journey into recovery from addictive and compulsive behaviours for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. S B. Kominars (1996).
  • Gay men, drinking, and alcoholism. T S. Weinberg. (1994)
  • Vastly more than that: stories of lesbians & gay men in recovery. G Kettelhack (2002).
  • Levels of HIV Testing and Low Validity of Self-Reported Test-Results Among Alcoholics and Drug-Users C Lindan , A Avins , WWoods , Hudes, E, Clark, W, Hulley, S (1994)
  • Drug and Alcohol Use: Among LGBTs in the City of Leeds N Noret, I Rivers (2003)
  • Alcohol and Seniors: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Older Adults: Alcohol dependence and misuse among older gay and lesbian people C Spencer (2003)
  • Alcohol use, drug use and alcohol-related problems among men who have sex with men: the Urban Men's Health Study R Stall, J Paul, G Greenwood,Pollack, L, Bein, E, Crosby, M, Mills, T, Binson, D, Coates, T, Catania, J (2001)
  • Alcohol consumption and unsafe sex: A comparison of heterosexuals and homosexual men K Trocki, B Leigh (1991)
  • No connection between alcohol use and unsafe sex in gay and bisexual men P Weatherburn, O Davies, F Hickson,Hunt, A, Coxon, A, McManus, T (1993)


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