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J Homosex. 2001;42(1):63-88.

An empirical analysis of stressors for gay men and lesbians.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529-0267, USA.


This research describes the empirical classification of stressors for gay men and lesbians. Volunteer respondents were recruited through a free local gay and lesbian newspaper, through gay and lesbian student organizations nationwide, through gay and lesbian bookstores nationwide, and at a gay festival in St. Louis. Nine hundred seventy-nine (979) participants completed a 70-item measure with stressors that had been identified in previous qualitative research. Participants were asked to indicate the degree to which they had experienced stress associated with a variety of experiences. Participants also completed a measure of dysphoria (CES-D), responded about their degree of openness regarding sexual orientation, and provided information about their relationship status and involvement with gay groups and activities. Using confirmatory factor analysis, a six-factor model was predicted to account for the data. One-factor, six-factor, and ten-factor models were tested. The ten-factor model yielded the best fit with the data and accounted for 63.5% of the variance. The factor structure remained stable when gay men were compared to lesbians, when those endorsing a predominantly gay versus exclusively gay orientation were compared, and when those in a relationship were compared to those who were not in a relationship. Increased gay stress was associated with more dysphoria. Implications of these findings are discussed and directions for future research are considered.

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