Sexual Minorities Who Reject an LGB Identity: Who Are They and Why Does it Matter?

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Issues in Law & Medicine






National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent and Disabled, Inc.

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Although some persons with minority sexual orientations do not identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB), Minority Stress Theory (Meyer, 2003) has largely been developed utilizing LGB-identified samples. We examined a sample (n = 274) of sexual minorities with diverse religious and sexual identity labels to determine if those rejecting versus adopting an LGB identity were different in terms of religious, sexual, relational, and health characteristics. Results suggested those who reject an LGB identity are more likely to be religiously active, full members of their church, and highly intrinsic and theologically conservative in their religious viewpoint. They further reported having slightly more lifetime heterosexual attractions, fantasies, and behaviors; greater internalized homonegativity; and being more interested in having children and a child-centered family life. They were also more likely to be single and celibate or in a heterosexual relationship. Contrary to expectations, these differences were not associated with health differences in depression, anxiety, and social flourishing. LGB-identified participants did report higher life satisfaction than those rejecting an LGB identity, but this difference was not interpretively meaningful when considered in reference to population norms. We conclude with a discussion of the potential implications of our findings for research, legal and professional advocacy, and clinical care.

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