Research shows that the effect of saying 'I'm gay' has different effects depending on ethnicity

Posted on May 7, 2016

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"Verbal disclosure is what most people think of as 'coming out' as gay," said lead author Adrian Villicana, a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of Kansas. "It's verbalizing to other people, 'I am gay.' It's a proclamation, it's yelling from the rooftop -- at least that's a common understanding of what it is and should be."

Vilicana explains the model for why verbalising that you are gay improves well-being. He says that saying it out loud will help you integrate it to your sense of self. 'Integration' is when you finally start to accept your gay identity, internalize it into how you think of yourself and start to 'come out' to others about being gay. Generally, these models assume coming out is verbal disclosure, and it's associated with the extent to which you're comfortable being gay -- the more you disclose and the more people know you're gay, the more you've accepted and are comfortable with being gay.

But the researchers sought to discover if positive benefits of verbal disclosure -- shown to enhance subjective well-being-- apply equally to white and Latino gay men. In two separate studies, the research team recruited gay Latino and gay white men and asked them to complete extensive questionnaires. Their results show that verbal disclosure of gay identity increased subjective well-being for gay white men but didn't influence subjective well-being for gay Latino men.

The researchers concluded that verbal disclosure may only be effective within a white framework that doesn't account for facets of identity like race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and religion.

Vilicana continues to point out that previous research on this did not include people of colour, hence their understanding of gay-related processes for non-white people is limited. "It's confusing and potentially misleading to use data from one group and apply it to another group in the same way." he said.

The new data from their research reveals this difference. "We found two reasons why gay white men who verbally disclose have higher well-being," Villicana said. "First, verbal disclosure leads to more feelings of authenticity, so feeling that they are showing their 'true self.' Second, as they verbally disclose to others, they begin to incorporate others into how they view themselves. But for gay Latino men, verbal disclosure is not related to these two things. For gay Latino men, authenticity and incorporating others into how they view themselves is not influenced by their sexual identity, but may be more tied to their ethnic identity."

Vilicana said that there are nonverbal means of disclosure that are action based. For example, bringing your partner to a family event is a tacit way of sharing it with others.

Category(s):LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender) Issues

Source material from Medical News Today

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