Effects of subtle heterosexism on gays, lesbians, bisexuals

J Homosex. 2005;49(2):23-38. doi: 10.1300/J082v49n02_02.


This study examined heterosexism that is not specifically targeted at LGB individuals, but may be experienced as antigay harassment, and may contribute to the stigma and stress they experience. LGB participants (N = 175, primarily Euro-American college students), read scenarios of heterosexuals saying or assuming things potentially offensive to gay men or lesbian women. For each scenario, they indicated extent to which they would be offended and less open about their sexuality, and their perceptions of the behaviors as evidence of antigay prejudice. Not only did respondents find the scenarios to be offensive and indicative of prejudice, but perceived offensiveness was associated with a decreased likelihood of coming out. In comparison to gay men, lesbian women and bisexuals found the scenarios more offensive and more indicative of prejudice. Limitations of the current study and directions for future research are outlined.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bisexuality / psychology*
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prejudice*
  • Social Perception