“There’s a lot of research suggesting that sexual minorities – lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals – are more likely to experience chronic stress. So we wanted to see if this was the case,” said lead author Robert-Paul Juster, who completed the study for the University of Montreal’s Centre for Studies on Human Stress.
Contrasting 87 heterosexuals and sexual minorities in Montreal over a two-week period, Juster took saliva, urine and blood samples to test for stress hormone levels. The results, published today in Psychosomatic Medicine, surprised him.
“We found that, contrary to our expectations, gay and bisexual men actually had lower depression and lower physiological health problems than heterosexual men,” he said.
“We think that this might be related to the fact that gay and bisexual men are more likely to go to the gym and pay attention to their diet but we also suspect that there might be some sort of resilience going on.”
That’s what the researchers noted when comparing those who had come out of the closet to those who hadn’t.
“If you had actually come out of the closet completely to your family and friends, you had less depression, less anxiety, less burnout and less stress hormones than if you were still in the closet,” he said.
Juster notes that results may differ outside of Montreal.
“I have to add the caveat that this might not necessarily apply in other conservative locations,” he said.
“This might be something very unique to Montreal and to Quebec’s progressive policies.”
For Jenny Donovan, coming out provided her with a sense of a relief. She came out at age 37.
“It was a very short, intense period that I went through, my coming out,” Donovan told Daybreak.
“In that time period, I felt a lot of loneliness and anxiety. At least with my friends it was fine but I was more hesitant approaching my family. In the end, when it finally came time to speak to them, it was actually a very liberating experience.”
Donovan didn’t have a typical coming out. She met her current girlfriend at a cousin’s wedding where she kissed her in front of most of her family.
“I actually remember hearing, in the back of my mind, my brother saying, ‘My sister is a lesbian! My sister is a lesbian!’” she recalled.
Donovan spoke to her family months later to tell them the relationship had become more serious.
“I received an outpouring of love,” she said.
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