Monday, September 22, 2008

Self-Hatred Bodes Ill for Gay Men

“Homonegativity,” or gay self-loathing, predicts a dim future for gay and bisexual men held captve by it, University of Minnesota researchers reported today.
In a study published in the Journal of Homosexuality, researchers surveyed 422 gay and bisexal men in the Midwest at an HIV prevention conference. The surveys gathered data on the men’s attitudes toward affectional and sexual orientation as well as a set of physical and mental health variables. As one might expect, the higher degree of “homonegativity,” the more frequent depression, isolation and poor sexual health occurred.
I say “as one might expect” because it is well-known that secrecy and shame serve as mental prisons where, in their dark, dank interiors, substance abuse, unprotected sex and lies proliferate. Oddly enough, just before reading this story today, I had been discussing the startling death of a colleague’s friend. Otherwise healthy and highly functioning, this young man fell ill on a Wednesday and died two days later. Something about a perforated bowel from an undisclosed anal sex practice, my friend recalled. Of course, this young man was deeply in the closet about his homosexuality and wouldn’t dream of telling any physician he willingly allowed some foreign object to penetrate his rectum. Ultimately, his secrecy, born of his internalized homophobia, killed him.
How many lives have we lost because of the shame and stigma tarnishing otherwise naturally-occurring variations of human sexual and affectional variations?
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