STUDY: Closeting Yourself In Public Is Killing You

Even if you have never experienced discrimination or violence for your sexual or gender identity, the mere possibility of such still takes a toll on your well-being, according to a new study from the Williams Institute.

The study says that all the “homophobia, racism, and sexism” pervading our general culture creates real dangers and “micro-agressions,” minor and often intangible stressors that gradually tax a person’s mental and physical health:

participants describe homophobia, racism, and sexism as enduring and pervasive social forces that chronically and systematically exclude them from social institutions… Researchers need to pay greater attention than they have to date to describing these stressors and understanding their effects… such as not being able to walk down the street freely because of the fear of expressing affection to one’s intimate partner.

Does that mean we can start suing anti-gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council for polluting the environment and ruining our health? That’d be awesome.

Image via Guillaume Paumier

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #homophobia #studies stories and more


  • OUTbros

    If more studies are done with this then maybe yeah, we can start using organizations like NOM as damaging entities that scare people into staying in the closet. Shit, let’s pin them as organizations that exacerbate health issues globally.
    I vote Anne Coulter as the spokeswoman for this.



  • arandomthought

    another great idea offered up on queerty.
    when is that great philanthropist gonna step forward and start funding queerty initiatives?

  • Michael

    All their shit about gays being aberrations abnormal wrong sinners sodemites etc… Of course things like they are doing emotional and mental damage to so many teens who are going through enough as it is struggling with who and what they are as human beings.

    Ive said it before NOM Focus on the Family and so many of these other so called organizations have plenty of innocent blood on their hands from all these years.

    Sad but also not surprising thing is… these people do not give a damn period.

    Staying closeted can indeed lead to emotional mental and physical issues.Im sure it tears people up inside not being true to who they are.

    No one in this world should have to be afraid of being what they are period.

    To those who have a problem with 2 gays kissing on tv… turn the fucking channel.

    To those who have a problem with 2 gays kissing in public…. keep on walking and keep your bigoted opinions to yourself.

    None of us are affecting these idiots lives but they sure as hell continue to affect and ultimately impact innocent lives… with devastating results continuously in this country.

  • BubbasBack

    Oh but y’all remember: It gets better, right? Burp.

  • Little Kiwi

    It goes further than just Coming Out, too. There are some who can only “Come Out” by limiting themselves to the conditions of others – they’ll be gay, but “not like those lefty liberal gays”, or gay “but not like those stereotypical fems who aren’t str8-acting”

    conditional tolerance of self based on telling yourself what you’re not, rather than embracing who and what you are and not “apologizing” for it with “but i’m not like ______” stances of cowardice.

    there comes a time when people need to just stop caring what the Haters are gonna think, and to stop living each day looking over your shoulder worrying about what The Straights are saying about you.

  • Interesting

    Such studies are well known about racism. For example, African American life spans are shorter than Whites in part because of racism (both economic because of less health care access and social because of the pressures faced by discrimination).

    What’s interesting to me is how the gay community keeps reinventing the wheel to just now realize these things. This should have been something that was a part of the gay rights movement early on if it had bothered to look at research from other communities and the gay rights groups had wanted to use the socioeconomic impact of homophobia on being gays such as the job lose issue.

    The real question; Why are so many gay groups ignoring these sorts of things? I still maintain that the most effective strategy you could run in America is to point out that gays are impacted socioeconomically in terms of discrimination rather than ignoring it. The reality is that by not mentioning it every chance one can, that leads some, who are not following our struggles, to not understand what the debate is about. They think its about “want” (I want equal treatment as the latest thing) rather than “need” (I need equal treatment because it harms my health, I am given few jobs, I make less money, I am otherwise socioeconomically disadvantaged).

    Of course, my theory is that this is precisely the message that upper class gays who now control the movement do not want. They don’t want be seen as a minority facing all the same issues as other minorities. They want to be seen as one of the upper middle class.

  • Jim Hlavac

    Two things — first — we should be suing the daylights out of all the anti-gay groups for simple tort actionable slander and libel — for that’s all it is — and while they are saying these things against an amorphous “homosexuality,” they are also, in fact, maligning each and every individual — me as Jim, you as you — not me as a “homosexual,” no — but as “Jim” and “John” and “Joe” they are saying crude and cruel things that are not true in the slightest about me, John and Joe.

    Second — when will anybody who ever writes about gay couples actually show a gay couple and not just a set of hand from the back? I mean, really, if we’re discussing hetero marriage we’d show a straight couple, right? So why all this “hands from the backside” only crud? Egad, put up a gay couple happy smiling and smooching for heaven’s sake. Thanks.

  • LilLezKat - lost at what to do

    @Jim Hlavac: although I agree with you on most accounts, as this image is used too often, this time I think it is actually being used as a representation of “closeting one’s self” By sort of only doing something as subtle as hand holding below the line of sight.

    On another note, I personally thing that this study is quite accurate if only judging by my own experience. To help family members myself and my partner moved from an extreemly gay-friendly, huge metropolitan area of texas to a small college town in oklahoma. We went from laughing happily hand in hand through grocery stores and sharing an armchair at the coffee shop to scarcely brushing shoulders in public, sitting across from one another at tables and hardly ever daring to steal a peck on the cheek. I wasn’t even very concious of it untill i read this article really. After getting harassed a couple of times on the street by rowdy drunk frat boys, all public afftection more or less ceased. The stress it’s been putting on us actually makes me sick to my stomach. I often feel we are disjointed in public and being out of our house is only done when we need something, and then over with as quickly as possible. My migranes have increased, my nervous disorders are much worse…of course those things can be attributed in part to other factors, but fear is a big part of it. Anxiety, really.

    What then is the solution? Do we walk proudly, hand in hand and risk a beating from some intoxicated homophobes again, or do we duck our heads, hide our hearts and deal with the slow beating we are giving ourselves? I would have no problem braving it for myself. I am not afraid to get into a fight. I would die being proud of who I am. But that’s me. Being willing to risk my partner’s safety is completely different. I made a vow when I promised my life to her not to lead her into danger. I am torn.

  • Daez

    @Little Kiwi: So, if we are more masculine we are by your stance not allowing ourselves to be truly who we are? What if truly who we are is a masculine gay male that wants to have the typical American dream of a husband 2.5 kids? Is that so wrong?

  • Andy

    If I were to hold hands in public in the area I’m in right now, I’d probably get the shit kicked out of me.

  • Jeremyfitzroy85

    I’m sorry, I was a victim of internalized homophobia.

  • Chad

    It would be nice if we could sue those who slander. But they would just say we are attacking their religious freedoms. And as we all know religious people have special rights that allow them to hate whoever their book tells them to.

Comments are closed.