Economic Discrimination Most Detrimental for Gay and Bisexual Men

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.

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  • Benita

    November 16th, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    Why is that?
    I thought that society was becoming a little more accepting so you would presume that as acceptance of this lifestyle grew, the amount of derision toward them would decrease.

  • Lin

    November 16th, 2012 at 5:56 AM

    How we wife will be able to know if our husband is bisexual. Eg can advise how seldom will they ask for sex from their own wife. Advise their common behaviour as well. Thank you.

  • Jazzy

    November 16th, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    I beg to differ.
    ask any single mother how they fare and 9 out of 10 will tell you that they make less money and have a harder time managing their financial well being than a gay man.
    A gay man could hide that he is gay if he thinks that will make a difference in how much he is paid but how am I supposed to hide the fact that I have kids and am not married?
    All kind of people will tell you they don’t discriminate but look a little more closely and I think that you will see that we all have our biases and prejudices.
    Some just choose to hide it in ways like offering lower pay for doing the same job and when you are desperate for a job you sometimes take what you can get.

  • Felipe

    November 16th, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    We tell these people they need to get out of the closet,that they need to come out and embrace their true identities,that there is nothing wrong with being gay and that society is moving ahead.And yet when they do it does not take any time for them to face discrimination,bullying,taunts and a general sense of being different.

    This is a rotten part of our society and we just have to change and be respectful to all people.Someone being gay is not hurting you but you treating them differently because they are gay is definitely doing harm to the person and more so to your own self!

  • bennie

    November 17th, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    This is something that would be hard for anyone, but to then be a part of a minority group that already feels like the weight of the wrold has been placed upon them because of who they love, then that meks it even more difficult to bear.

    I am tired of all of this discrimination simply because. . . well, whatever. I am tired of others deciding what the right life choices are and which ones aren’t right.

    Guess it’s just a little too much to ask that we all get along.

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