Title

Identity, minority stress and mental health among gay men and lesbians

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

Abstract

Exposure to gay-related discrimination, perceived stigma or other stressors is associated with poorer mental health for gay and lesbian individuals. Yet not all gay men and lesbians experience the same levels or types of stressors, nor do they react the same in response to stress exposure. Using a sample of self-identified gay and lesbian individuals who completed an online survey, this research examined whether social identity, specifically a sense of belonging to the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) community, predicted both exposure and reactivity to gay-related stress. Results showed that those who were higher in gay identity reported significantly more discrimination but significantly less perceived stigma than those who were lower in gay identity. Although gay identity was not associated with reactivity to discrimination, it was associated with reactivity to perceived stigma. Those who were lower in gay identity reported significantly more depressive symptoms when they experienced high levels of perceived stigma than when they experienced low levels of perceived stigma. In contrast, those who were higher in gay identity were buffered against the negative consequences of perceived stigma; there were no differences in reported depression based on the experiences of perceived stigma. The theoretical and practical implications of these data are discussed.

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Recommended Citation

Fingerhut, A. W., Peplau, L. A., & Gable, S. L. (2010). Identity, minority stress and mental health among gay men and lesbians. Psychology and Sexuality, 1, 101-114. DOI: 10.1080/19419899.2010.484592

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