Robert-Paul Juster and his team were surprised by the results, given the social implications of being homosexual in a society that, in many places, does not openly tolerate same-sex relationships.
Despite their prediction that lesbians, gay men and bisexuals would suffer greater levels of stress than heterosexual people, the researchers discovered that those who were ‘out of the closet’ to family and friends had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than anyone else.
87 men and women around the age of 25 were asked to answer questionnaires as well as provide blood, saliva and urine samples to measure stress.
All participants came from the French-speaking province of Quebec in Canada, a place currently locked in a heated debate over legalising gay marriage and adoption.
“As the participants of this study enjoy progressive Canadian rights, they may be inherently healthier and hardier,” Juster said.
The findings suggest that an open, accepting attitude to sexuality could boost the mental and physical health of homosexual people, while staying in the closet could raise stress levels.
According to Juster, ‘coming out’ is imperative for public health and societies should try to encourage self-acceptance as a way of staving off mental health problems like stress, anxiety and depression experienced by those who suffer stigma for their sexuality.
Coming to terms with who you are, while trying to fit society’s idea of what you should be, can be an uphill struggle. Counselling could help ease you through this process. To find out more and to contact a counsellor near you, please visit our page on Sexuality.
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