Collectivist v Individualistic Cultures

IMG_4332.jpg     A collectivist and individualistic culture can impact an individual’s mental as well as physical health. In Asian cultures, there is a greater emphasis on collectivism – valuing family and community over individual benefits. This collectivist culture is derived from a shared history and similar physical, cultural attributes in Asian countries; whereas the United States value  individualism, the belief that the needs of the individual is more important than society.This may be because of the variety of different people in the United States, where ⅓ of the population does not identify as white, valuing the individual identities of people in the United States.

     Asian Americans and/or Pacific Islanders are not as open as their sexuality because of these collectivist values. In more second generation LGBTQ AAPI, data shows that they value more individualistic values, showing an increased number of LGBTQ AAPI in America than compared to Asian countries. In a collectivist society, deviations from the norm is looked down upon. This is part of the reason as why not many LGBTQ AAPI people seek as many health resources and HIV testing is among the lowest, demographically speaking. 

     Many AAPI LGBTQ people living in the United States struggle with a clash of racial and sexual identities, creating invisibility and isolation in communities. This also contributes to why depression and anxiety among AAPI LGBTQ individuals are the highest among any other demographic, because of the lack of supportive AAPI communities. Although many Asian countries are progressing their LGBTQ rights, it is still difficult to communicate in one’s native tongue about sexuality. In expressing one’s sexuality there is no positive terminology in Hmong, Khmer, Lao, or Vietnamese languages. This is why it is important to increase resources specifically for LGBTQ AAPI to create more inclusive communities and eliminating invisibility, isolation, and stereotyping. 

Handbook of LGBT Elders: : An Interdisciplinary Approach to Principles, Practices, and Policies


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