Bisexual and gay men are at risk of discrimination and prejudice because of their sexual orientation. This extends from social settings and reaches across nearly every domain, including academic, professional, and in areas related to housing, medical care, and legal matters. Additionally, these men may be more vulnerable to aggression and harassment. It has been established that increased prejudice and discrimination can have significant mental health ramifications. In the gay and bisexual male population, the perception of prejudice and the reality of discrimination have worked together to create an elevated presence of psychological issues.
Although the existing research shows a link between sexual orientation prejudice and poor mental health outcomes, Kristi E. Gamarel of the Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies & Training at City University of New York wanted to see if other factors mediated or moderated that effect. In a recent study, Gamarel interviewed 294 gay and bisexual men and asked them what types of discrimination they had experienced in the previous 12 months. She then assessed how each type of discrimination and perception of discrimination influenced depressive and anxious symptoms in the men.
Gamarel looked at race/ethnicity, age, HIV status, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic position (SEP) and found that even though almost two-thirds of the men reported being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, it was SEP that led to the poorest mental health outcomes. Specifically, the men in the study reported having experienced nearly every form of prejudice, but it was within-group prejudice related to financial position that led to the highest levels of depression and anxiety. This finding is interesting considering that the men in this sample had moderate to high incomes. Gamarel believes that within-group discrimination has a larger impact on self-esteem and other valuations than out-group assessments, and therefore this form of prejudice has a particularly significant effect on mental health. In addition, the men who reported the highest and lowest levels of prejudice did not experience the same effect. It was only the men who reported moderate levels of SEP discrimination that had the most negative mental health outcomes. “Taken together, these findings suggest that both objective and subjective indicators of SEP are of considerable importance in examining the association between perceptions of discrimination and mental health outcomes,” Gamarel said.
Gamarel, Kristi E., Sari L. Reisner, Jeffrey T. Parsons, and Sarit A. Golub. Association between socioeconomic position discrimination and psychological distress: Findings from a community-based sample of gay and bisexual men in New York City. American Journal of Public Health 102.11 (2012): 2094-101. Print.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.