“I can’t let anyone find out that I’m not straight. It would be so humiliating. My friends would hate me; I just know it. They might even want to beat me up. I guess I’m no good to anyone . . . not even God. Life is so cruel and unfair. Sometimes I feel like disappearing from the face of this earth.”
The above heart-rending lines scribbled by 16-year-old Bobby Griffith in his diary bring forth the less-discussed aspects of homosexuality. It not only pushes a person into an abyss, but also steadily isolates him or her from loved ones. Upon realizing his sexual preference, Bobby Griffith attempted to acknowledge himself and discover some solace amidst his family and community in California. But to his horror, his family, fraternity, religion and friends found his sexual preferences abhorrent and bizarre.
Toward the end, societal demeanors and stigma knocked him down to a life of desolation. Incapable of handling homophobia, depression and judgment from others, he committed suicide in the predawn hours of Aug. 27 1983.
Though the above incident occurred in times when homosexuality was denigrated as a sin, it throws light on the stresses and strains of people with different sexual orientations. It is a well-established fact that social stress more than any other factor plays a key role in triggering mental disorders in LGBT people. Therefore, their problems can be explained based on the concept of “minority stress,” which suggests that stigma, prejudice and discrimination establishes a stressful environment.
Since 1990s, there has been massive movement on the rights of the entire LGBT community. As a result, people are now more tolerant and supportive toward such issues than before. However, a large number homophobic suicides still occurs due to the intolerant and hostile approach of the society.
Like individuals from other stigmatized minority groups, people from the LGBT community have to confront increased stigma on a daily basis. They witness chronic stress due to subjection to social stigma. Due to persistent stress, they are more likely to struggle with adverse mental health outcomes, such as isolation, sadness, etc. Therefore, they run an increased risk of developing mental disorders.
Since people from the LGBT community are often denied the basic facilities and opportunities, they have to face various kinds of hardships that increase mental distress, such as poverty, unemployment, poor medical services, etc. Therefore, it is imperative to comprehend the risks and identify solutions to alleviate mental distress among LGBT people.
In fact, various studies have highlighted that gay and bisexual men reported extreme degrees of psychological distress compared to heterosexual men. They were more likely to be involved in drug and alcohol problem. Moreover, lesbian and bisexual women displayed greater prevalence of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) than heterosexual women.
Pertinent evidence have tried to bring forth the conflicting conditions of society that affect the lives of LGBT people. Based on the distal-proximal concept of Ilan H. Meyer, distinguished professor, and a senior scholar for public policy and sexual orientation law at the Williams Institute of UCLA, the idea of minority stress seems more relevant due to its concern with the effect of external social conditions and structures on people.
However, as described by Lazarus and Folkman, distal ideas are those that impact an individual based on how he or she is shown in the prompt setting of thought, feeling and activity. Relevant researches highlighted that the state of mind of people is shaped by the stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination.
Treatment just a call away
For many LGBT individuals, struggling amidst increased social discrimination becomes a tiring task. Because of their sexuality, they are likely to bear the brunt of the hostile society, family, friends, etc. Moreover, due to lack of guidance and support, they are likely to self-medicate themselves to reduce stress by using substances like alcohol and drugs.
The California Mental Health Helpline aims at helping people with mental health problems by providing useful information on various problems and the best mental health facilities in California. Call at our 24/7 helpline 855-559-3923 or chat online to locate mental health rehabilitation centers in California that offer customized recovery plans depending on the specific needs of each patient.