Monday, February 4, 2013

New Study Says Openly Gay & Bi Men Are Happier Than Straight Men

By Brody Levesque | MONTREAL, QUEBEC -- According to a new University of Montreal study published in the January 29, 2013 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine magazine, gay and bisexual men are happier than straight men — as long as they're out.
Researchers conducted a study of 87 lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual Canadians- men and women from the Montreal area- some of whom were still closeted while others were living openly regarding their sexual orientation. The results showed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals—particularly those who have not disclosed their sexual orientation—are believed to experience increased chronic stress in comparison with heterosexuals. The study also found that those who had told their family and friends about their orientation suffered from far less anxiety, depression and burnout than the aforementioned group who haven't told both their friends and family.
In an interview with U.S. News & World Report magazine, study lead author Robert-Paul Juster, said that as a group, gay and bisexual men who are out of the closet were less likely to be depressed than heterosexual men and had less physiological problems than heterosexual men.
"Our research suggests coming out of the closet has some health benefits. Coming out is no longer a matter of popular debate, but a matter of public health," Juster said. 
Juster says that previous studies have shown gay and bisexual men are more likely to work out and eat a healthy diet than heterosexual men, which could be one of the reasons they were less often depressed. The act of discussing their sexuality with friends and family may also play a role, he suggests. 
"Something about coming out of the closet might make them more resilient—if you go through a major, stressful event like that you have to develop coping strategies that you might be able to use in the future," he says. 
"We also saw body mass index and inflammation were lower in gay and bisexual men, which fits with the idea that they're taking better care of their bodies than heterosexual men."
Juster noted that more studies are needed, especially those that focus on the mental health of gay and bisexual women and men who live in American states that have approved marriage equality.
"I think in the United States we have a golden opportunity to look at states before and after gay marriage legalization and passage of other policies," Juster said "I'd like to do a similar study, using a lot of biological measures, to see if there's something about legalization [of same-sex marriage] that improves mental health."
In the report's conclusion, researchers wrote that LGBs did not manifest more stress-related problems than did heterosexuals. Life transitions like disclosing to one’s family and friends may be protective against psychopathologies and hyperactive cortisol awakening responses. These findings underline the roles disclosure processes have on positive health and well-being for sexual minorities.