Is being out about sexual orientation uniformly healthy? The moderating role of socioeconomic status in a prospective study of gay and bisexual men

Ann Behav Med. 2014 Feb;47(1):28-38. doi: 10.1007/s12160-013-9575-6.


Background: Stress associated with concealing sexual orientation is a possible mechanism for health disparities among lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB) individuals. However, disclosing one's sexual orientation might not be uniformly healthy across social contexts.

Purpose: The present study tested whether being out is less healthy for gay and bisexual men of lower socioeconomic status (SES) relative to higher SES men.

Methods: Using longitudinal data on gay and bisexual men (N = 564, ages 18-72), we examined whether the association between outness and physical health differs by SES.

Results: SES significantly moderated associations between outness and physician visits, nonprescription medication use, and physical symptoms. Outness predicted physical health benefits for higher SES men but health problems for lower SES men.

Conclusions: The common assumption that disclosing one's sexual orientation is uniformly healthy may be less accurate (or inaccurate) for lower status groups. Future research should explore SES as context for minority stress and LGB health disparities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bisexuality / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Class
  • Social Environment*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Truth Disclosure*
  • Young Adult