Published Monday in Psychosomatic Medicine, the study was one of the first to examine stress levels between out gays and closeted gays.
87 men and women from Montreal, with an average age of 25, were recruited for the study to determine whether gays, lesbians and bisexuals experienced reduced stress and anxiety after coming out.
Unsurprisingly, they did, but — rather surprisingly — heterosexual men had higher-than expected systemic stress, or allostatic load, than all the other groups.
“Interestingly and contrary to our hypothesis, gay and bisexual men had significantly lower depressive symptoms and allostatic load levels than heterosexual men,” wrote McGill University neuroscientist and lead author Robert-Paul Juster.
The L.A. Times reports:
Heterosexual men registered a third higher on an index of allostatic load compared with gay and bisexual men. In contrast, lesbian and bisexual women ranked higher than heterosexual women on the index.
Noting that clinical indexes for stress include measures of body weight and fat, authors speculated that it was possible that gay and bisexual men focused more on maintaining thinness and muscularity than straight men.
So apparently straight dudes are out of shape and bent out of shape about it. The study also suggests that gay and bisexual men have learned to handle their shit better.
“It has been proposed that certain kind of stigma-related stresses can produce adaptive behavioral responses that make individuals more resilient and effective at managing future stressors,” the study’s authors wrote.
The authors acknowledged, however, that there were certain factors that may have skewed the study’s results.
The sample of participants, besides being small, had an unequal proportion of lesbians and bisexual men compared to gay men and bisexual women. Meanwhile, transgender individuals were excluded all-together over concerns that changes in their sex hormones would affect test results.
Montreal’s liberal rep and Canada’s socially progressive policies might also make the results unique to the region.
“It is possible that healthier and hardier lesbians, gays and bisexuals are more likely to partake in such studies than LBGs struggling with psychosocial, distress and difficulties self-identifying as sexual minorities,” the authors wrote.