February 3, 2011
Homophobia makes us sick
Newly published research points to a link between homophobic abuse and hormonal imbalances in young lesbian, gay and bisexual adults. Individuals who lived in homophobic environments were shown to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
The research, carried out in Canada by Dr Michael Benibgui as part of his doctoral thesis, examined the physiological impact of discrimination on 63 LGB people between the ages of 18 and 25. Benibgui states that his study “shows a clear relation between abnormal cortisol levels and environmental stressors related to homophobia”. Cortisol disruption may lead to physical as well as mental ailments.
Benibgui’s paper also outlines a connection between internalised homophobia and mental health issues. Participants who felt negatively about their sexuality and had abnormal levels of cortisol showed increased symptoms of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
In contrast, participants who received a good deal of support from friends, family and peers tended to show fewer negative symptoms. “LGB young adults who experienced more homophobic discrimination, yet felt accepted and supported by their peers, showed very few symptoms of depression”, says Benibgui.
The findings echo those of a recent UK study which suggested that mental health problems in LGB people are influenced by homophobic and biphobic discrimination.
The L Project – ‘It Does Get Better’ music video
April 15, 2012