Empirical Evaluation of Rainbow Reflections: A Comic Book Anthology on Body Image for Queer Men

Stéphanie E.M. Gauvin, Phillip Joy, Brittany L. Dunn, Matthew Lee, Rachel E. Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Gay, bisexual, and queer (GBQ) men are at higher risk of negative body image. As having a negative body image is related to negative mood, sexual, and health outcomes, identifying and providing community-friendly tools for GBQ men is important. This paper describes the creation and evaluation of Rainbow Reflections, a comic anthology developed to promote awareness of and communication about body image. Rainbow Reflections includes comics from 38 trans- and cis-GBQ artists who drew inspiration from personal narratives based on pre-determined themes in the empirical literature and interactive inserts based on evidence-based practice. To evaluate Rainbow Reflections, 167 trans- and cis-GBQ men completed pre-post measures before/after viewing a selection of comics and responded to an open-ended question about their experience. Overall, participants rated the comic book positively, with a majority (61.1%) indicating that they would recommend the book to a friend. After viewing the comics, participants reported greater comfort with initiating conversations about body image, greater satisfaction with their bodies, and reported higher estimates of how common body image concerns are for queer men. Themes that emerged from open-ended responses included participants reflecting on personal struggles (~ 30%), relating with the stories of others (~ 22%), reflecting on the standards of queer men (~ 18%), recognizing cis-privilege (~ 11%), reflecting on others’ struggles (~ 9%), negative feedback about the comics (~ 7%), and balancing masculine and feminine (~ 3%). Results of the study provide preliminary evidence for Rainbow Reflections as an effective community-friendly tool to promote awareness of and communication about body image for GBQ men.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-82
Number of pages14
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


The knowledge translation product and research described in this manuscript were supported by three independent Hacking the Knowledge Gap Trainee Awards for Innovative Thinking to Support LGBTQI2S Health and Wellness, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (Institute of Gender and Health), which were awarded to Stéphanie Gauvin, Phillip Joy, and Matthew Lee. This manuscript received recognition by the Society for Sex Therapy & Research through the Sandra J. Leiblum Student Research Award, awarded to Stéphanie Gauvin.

FundersFunder number
Canadian Institutes of Health Research


    • Art
    • Body image
    • Comic book
    • Gay men
    • Knowledge translation
    • Sexual orientation


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