In what is being hailed as the first study to observe “the consequences of anti-gay prejudice for mortality,” researchers have found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals living in communities with “high levels of anti-gay prejudice” have an average life expectancy that’s 12 years shorter than LGB’s living in the least prejudiced communities.
In short, homophobia is killing us. Literally.
The study, conducted by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and published last week in the Social Science & Medicine journal, surveyed data collected over two decades from 1988 to 2008.
According to the study’s lead author, Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences Mark Hatzenbuehler, PhD, there’s little room to misinterpret the data:
Our findings indicate that sexual minorities living in communities with higher levels of prejudice die sooner than sexual minorities living in low-prejudice communities, and that these effects are independent of established risk factors for mortality, including household income, education, gender, ethnicity, and age, as well as the average income and education level of residents in the communities where the respondents lived. In fact, our results for prejudice were comparable to life expectancy differences that have been observed between individuals with and without a high school education.
The study also found that suicide, homicide/violence, and cardiovascular diseases were all “substantially elevated” among sexual minorities in high-prejudice communities:
Of the deaths in high-prejudice communities, 25% were due to cardiovascular disease, compared to 18.6% of deaths in the low-prejudice communities. “Psychosocial stressors are strongly linked to cardiovascular risk, and this kind of stress may represent an indirect pathway through which prejudice contributes to mortality. Discrimination, prejudice, and social marginalization create several unique demands on stigmatized individuals that are stress-inducing.
Do you need any more reason to find a new gay-friendly hometown?