Despite the society's increasing acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, a sexual identity change toward same-sex attraction could be a stressful life event. A new survey by a sociologist at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has revealed that LGBT people who initially were in heterosexual relations and did not report same-sex romantic attraction or relationships are more likely to experience depressive symptoms than others.
The survey included heterosexual, bisexual, gay and lesbian individuals who reported stable sexual identities throughout the survey period, and also people whose identities changed from gay, lesbian, or bisexual to heterosexual or from gay or lesbian to bisexual.
Bethany Everett, assistant professor of sociology at the UIC, said, "This findings highlight the need for social support during periods of sexual identity transition toward same-sex attraction, not just for adolescents, but also for young adults. Supporting people during this time-period may be critical for improving their mental health. Future research should continue to investigate the factors that contribute to the link between sexual identity change and symptoms of depression. It may be that changes to bisexual, gay, or lesbian identities expose young adults to new sources of LGBT-related discrimination. Additionally, there is a certain amount of stigma attached to sexual fluidity itself that may impact mental health during this developmental period."
The study appears in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.