University of Minnesota researchers say that the degree of internalized homonegativity (a negative attitude towards homosexuality) among homosexual men is what predicts poor mental and sexual health - not the act of being homosexual itself.
The findings were based on a survey completed by 422 Midwestern gay and bisexual men who were participants in an HIV prevention seminar. The survey assessed the participants degree of homosexuality, their degree of positive or negative attitudes towards homosexuality, and a range of mental and sexual health variables.
The results, published in the Journal of Homosexuality, showed that in all cases, internalized homonegativity, not being homosexual, predicted poorer mental health (particularly increased depression) and worse sexual health.
"This study is a missing link in our understanding of the relationship between sexuality and health," said lead researcher Simon Rosser. "It provides new evidence that negative attitudes towards homosexuality, not homosexuality itself, are associated with both poorer mental and sexual health outcomes seen in sexual minorities. Conversely, positive attitudes towards homosexuality are associated with better mental and sexual health."
For over a century, academics have debated whether homosexuality is an objective disorder or whether societal prejudice, not homosexuality, leads to the elevated rates of depression, drug use, and HIV/STD epidemics seen in studies of gay men. This study tested both theories, according to Rosser. "Given the debates in many religious denominations about homosexuality, and in society about homosexuals and civil rights, it's also timely. In short, viewing homosexuality as a disorder is not only inaccurate, it may be harmful as well," he noted.
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Source: University of Minnesota