This study describes stress as derived from minority status and explores its effect on psychological distress in gay men. The concept of minority stress is based on the premise that gay people in a heterosexist society are subjected to chronic stress related to their stigmatization. Minority stressors were conceptualized as: internalized homophobia, which relates to gay men's direction of societal negative attitudes toward the self; stigma, which relates to expectations of rejection and discrimination; and actual experiences of discrimination and violence. The mental health effects of the three minority stressors were tested in a community sample of 741 New York City gay men. The results supported minority stress hypotheses: each of the stressors had a significant independent association with a variety of mental health measures. Odds ratios suggested that men who had high levels of minority stress were twice to three times as likely to suffer also from high levels of distress.