STUDY: Lesbians Gain More Health Benefits From Coming Out To Parents Than Gay Men

Surprise, surprise: Boston University has come out with a study saying coming out to supportive parents improves long-term health for LGBTs, reports

That’s something you probably could’ve verified personally or anecdotally, although having the weight of science behind you is always nice.

According to the study, which surveyed 5,658 adults ages 18-64 in Massachusetts:

Boston University School of Public Health researchers determined that two-thirds of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults in a representative Massachusetts sample reported receiving positive support from their parents after coming out to them.

Their incidence of mental health and substance abuse problems was significantly lower than those who did not receive support, the authors reported.

Researchers discovered 75 percent of Massachusetts lesbian, gay and bisexual adults have informed their parents on their sexuality. On average, individuals told their parents of their sexual orientation when they were 25 years old.

But one interesting, unexpected aspect of the study is that gay men were able to remain closeted with less health problems.

The authors found that the act of coming out (instead of remaining “closeted”) was generally associated with better health for lesbian and bisexual women, but that this was not similarly true for gay and bisexual men.

“It’s possible that the stress of not disclosing your sexuality to your parents affects men and women differently,” explained Rothman, an associate professor of community health sciences.

“In general, gay and bisexual men may be able to conduct their sexual lives apart from their parents with less stress. On the other hand, it’s also possible that this was an artifact of our particular sample.”

Is the nature of ladies to need to want parental affirmation for their sexual orientation, while men are more able to cope on their own, or do you think the study was flawed with some odd “artifact”?

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  • gggggb

    The problem, I think, with scientific studies is that they’re not always able to draw the right conclusions. I feel like it’s a very ineloquent way of lumbering through the world, and it’s particularly inclined to right angles.

  • Seattlegrrrl

    Better health? The study’s results mention bisexual men but bisexual women and Trans people are excluded, or queerty didn’t write about those results of the study and practiced bisexual and trans erasure.

  • ronwol

    @Seattlegrrrl: I think you had better reread the artical
    again. In the first paragraph of the report it states “Boston University of Pubblic Health determmined that two thirds of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults”.

    In the 3rd paragaqph it states “Researchers discoveded 75% of Massachusetts lesbian,
    gay and bisexual adults”. Now unless I am misaken the word ADULT refers to both men and
    women so therefore bisexual women are not being exclued. As for Trans they have
    nothing to do with what this study at all since the problems talked about have nothing to to do with them.

    I am really getting tired of Trans latching on to the gay comunity claming their
    problems are the same, they are not the same. Why don’t you atart your on orgization
    and stop attaching your selves to the LBG community.

  • J.K.


    Wow, your bigotry is sad yet somehow not surprising. As a bisexual man I have often been told by gays and lesbians that I’m not welcome and my struggles are not related. It is people like you that I want to pity but all I can do is feel anger and resentment towards.

    You are no different than the Bachmanns, Falwells and the Westboro church folks of this world. The fact that you don’t see it is sad, pathetic and asinine.

  • Pix

    The implied conclusions make sense to me. It seems to me that regardless of orientation that women as a general rule tend to place more importance on relationships with family than men and so would suffer more for having to keep secrets from them. Again, that’s me speaking only in general terms, I personally know of many exceptions both ways that exist.

    And just for the record I include B&T as fellow travelers as I do L&G. It’s true that there are differences, but there are all kinds of differences between individual gays & lesbians as well with many gays & lesbians shunning others for not being the “right kind” of gay or lesbian. I say the more the merrier and the more we hang together the less likely we are to hang apart.

  • WillBFair

    Again, it’s clear that in any question it’s important to pick the most relevant data. You can prove anything with a few semi-plausible factoids.
    I think a critical variable has been excluded. It’s that gay men are hated more than lebians, and suffer more emotional abuse and violence. That must affect all of these conclusions.
    For example, maybe gay men learn to stay in the closet more successfully because the alternative is just too horrible. And maybe there’s substance abuse for out gay men because being out makes them targets of crueler hatred.

  • Mark

    Ronwol, way to be a hypocrite and total bigo ted bi p hobe who practices bisexual erasure. Trans people belong just as much as bisexuals, gay men, and lesbians do. In fact a bisexual Trans woman Sylvia Rivera started the stonewall riots.


    * Assuming that everyone you meet is either heterosexual or homosexual.
    * Supporting and understanding a bisexual identity for young people because you identified “that way” before you came to your “real” lesbian/gay/heterosexual identity.
    * Expecting a bisexual to identify as heterosexual when coupled with the so called different gender/sex.
    * Believing bisexual men spread AIDS/HIV to heterosexuals.
    * Thinking bisexual people haven’t made up their minds.
    * Assuming a bisexual person would want to fulfill your sexual fantasies or curiosities.
    * Assuming bisexuals would be willing to “pass” as anything other than bisexual.
    * Feeling that bisexual people are too outspoken and pushy about their visibility and rights.
    * Automatically assuming romantic couplings of two women are lesbian, or two men are gay, or a man and a woman are heterosexual.
    * Expecting bisexual people to get services, information, and education from heterosexual service agencies for their “heterosexual side” (sic) and then go to gay and/or lesbian service agencies for their “homosexual side” (sic).
    * Feeling bisexuals just want to have their cake and eat it too.
    * Believing that bisexual women spread AIDS/HIV to lesbians.
    * Using the terms “phase” or “stage” or “confused” or “fence-sitter” or “bisexual” or “AC/DC” or “switch-hitter” as slurs or in an accusatory way.
    * Thinking bisexuals only have committed relationships with so called different sex/gender partners.
    * Looking at a bisexual person and automatically thinking of their sexuality rather than seeing them as a whole, complete person.
    * Assuming that bisexuals, if given the choice, would prefer to be in an different gender/sex coupling to reap the social benefits of a so-called “heterosexual” pairing [sic].
    * Not confronting a biphobic remark or joke for fear of being identified as bisexual.
    * Assuming bisexual means “available.”
    * Thinking that bisexual people will have their rights when lesbian and gay people win theirs.
    * Being gay or lesbian and asking your bisexual friend about their lover or whom they are dating only when that person is the “same” sex/gender.
    * Believing bisexuals are confused about their sexuality.
    * Feeling that you can’t trust a bisexual because they aren’t really gay or lesbian, or aren’t really heterosexual, and that someone coming out as bisexual means someone’s closeted or can’t be trusted and isn’t telling the truth about their sexuality.
    * Expecting a bisexual to identify as gay or lesbian when coupled with the “same” sex/gender.
    * Saying that you’d never date or enter into a relationship with a bisexual person because they are bisexual.
    * Claiming that the rights of bisexuals don’t matter and that political and equality for gays and lesbians is more important and pressing.
    * Expecting bisexual activists and organizers to minimize bisexual issues (i.e. HIV/AIDS, violence, basic civil rights, fighting the Right, military, same-sex marriage, child custody, adoption, etc.) and to prioritize the visibility of so called “lesbian and/or gay” issues.
    * Avoid mentioning to friends that you are involved with a bisexual or working with a bisexual group because you are afraid they will think you are a bisexual.

  • Geri

    Note to Queerty: “Queer Women Gain More Health Benefits From Coming Out To Parents Than Queer Men” would have been a more inclusive headline for this article. Especially as many queer people (especially young queer people) are unsure about which label(if any) best describes their sexuality.

    NB; Anyone who thinks “queer” just means “gay” needs to wake up.

  • ptgreene

    Maybe we should all stop pontificating. This article doesn’t have to be inclusive of transgendered people because the study was not conducted on transgendered people. That could be for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that it could have been difficult to get a substantial sample for study. I don’t know a lot about transgendered people, but I imagine they have similar problems to LGB folks. Many of their problems could be different or more complicated though.

  • WillBFair

    The article is about the oppression of gay men. But I love how trans and bi people make it about them. Some freinds.

  • Geri

    @WillBFair: Excuse me. Please do the math. The word “bisexual” actually appears more often in this article:
    than the word “gay” does. That’s because it’s clearly a study about gay and bisexual men and lesbian and bisexual women.

    Also Seattlegrrrl some trans people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual may have been included in this study.

    Pat Califia came out as lesbian when he was 17, now he’s a bisexual transman with a male partner.

    It takes all sorts to make a queer world.

  • Roxxy

    @Mark: “* Automatically assuming romantic couplings of two women are lesbian, or two men are gay, or a man and a woman are heterosexual.”
    Well it is a lesbian coupling or a gay or straight coupling regardless of the sexualities of the people involved. A bi person can be in a “straight” relationship and still be bi.

  • Geri

    @WillBFair: Bisexual men (in general) may have a worse time than gay men. And bisexual women (in general) may have a worse time than lesbians.

    “Two of the surveys—the 2003 and 2005 California Health Interview Surveys, the only data that included separate numbers for bisexuals—found that bisexual women are more than twice as likely as lesbians to live in poverty (17.7% compared to 7.8%), and bisexual men are over 50% more likely to live in poverty than gay men (9.7% compared to 6.2%).”

    Quote from a recent report on Bisexuality and “Bisexual Invisibility” from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission LGBT Advisory Committee.

    However the fact that so many bisexual people don’t openly identify as bisexual presents a significant challenge to research on bisexuality of course.

  • Geri

    @Roxxy: Yes but what it means is that people in same-sex relationships are assumed to be gay/lesbian and people in opposite-sex relationships are assumed to straight and thus bisexual people in monogamous relationships are rendered invisible by these assumptions.

  • ptgreene

    I don’t think being “rendered invisible” really matters much outside the context of the relationship. Your partner should know about your bisexual feelings, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of them, but I don’t see how it has much impact on your rights unless you are pursuing a same-sex relationship. For that matter, I like monogamy and I don’t want my partner sleeping with someone besides be no matter the gender, so his attraction to women wouldn’t be something I wanted him to indulge while we were together. (Outside the realm of fantasy, that is.)

  • Geri

    @ptgreene: Being “rendered invisible” may not necessarily seriously impact on an individual bi person in a monogamous relationship but being rendered invisible (by various means) has a serious impact on bisexual people in general.

  • Lance

    Fucking hilarious how this entire post was hijacked.

    Good job.

  • Dave

    Roxxy: Well it is a lesbian coupling or a gay or straight coupling regardless of the sexualities of the people involved. A bi person can be in a “straight” relationship and still be bi.

    It’s only a lesbian coupling if it’s two lesbian women together in a relationship. Bisexual men and women can be in relationships with same or opposite gender people and it doesn’t make them or their relationship gay/lesbian or straight.

  • Geri

    @Lance: This post was “hijacked” by whom exactly?

Comments are closed.