MONTREAL, Quebec — Openly gay and bisexual men are happier than straight men, according to a new University of Montreal study published in the Jan. 29, 2013 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine magazine.
Researchers conducted a study of 87 lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual Canadians, some of whom were still closeted, while others were living openly regarding their sexual orientation.
The study found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals who had told their family and friends about their orientation suffered from far less anxiety, depression and burnout than heterosexuals and closeted gays and lesbians.
In an interview with U.S. News & World Report, study lead author Robert-Paul Juster, said that as a group, gay and bisexual men who are out of the closet were less likely to be depressed than heterosexual men and had less physiological problems than heterosexual men.
“Our research suggests coming out of the closet has some health benefits. Coming out is no longer a matter of popular debate, but a matter of public health,” Juster said.
Juster says that previous studies have shown gay and bisexual men are more likely to work out and eat a healthy diet than heterosexual men, which could be one of the reasons they were less often depressed. The act of discussing their sexuality with friends and family may also play a role, he suggests.“Something about coming out of the closet might make them more resilient — if you go through a major, stressful event like that you have to develop coping strategies that you might be able to use in the future,” he says.
Juster noted that more studies are needed, especially those that focus on the mental health of gay and bisexual women and men who live in U.S. states that have approved marriage equality.
“I think in the United States we have a golden opportunity to look at states before and after gay marriage legalization and passage of other policies,” Juster said. “I’d like to do a similar study, using a lot of biological measures, to see if there’s something about legalization [of same-sex marriage] that improves mental health.”
Among the report’s conclusions is that coming out has a positive impact on the health and well-being of sexual minorities.