Bisexual men are less likely to disclose and more likely to conceal their sexual orientation than gay men. In the first study to look at the mental health of this population, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that greater concealment of homosexual behavior was associated with more symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The study published in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychologyexamined bisexual men "on the down low," a subgroup of bisexual men who live predominantly heterosexual lives and do not disclose their same-sex behavior, a group that has not been studied to date.
The researchers studied nongay-identified men in New York City, who self-reported being behaviorally bisexual and had not disclosed their same-sex behavior to their female partners. According to findings, men who live with a wife or girlfriend, who think of themselves as heterosexual, and who have a lower frequency of sex with men were more likely to conceal their same-sex behavior.
Greater frequency of sex with women also correlated with greater concealment.
Schrimshaw and colleagues found that greater concealment correlated with more symptoms of depression and anxiety and lower positive emotions. However, disclosure to a few close friends or family did not seem to help; disclosure to confidants was not associated with good mental health.
The research also suggests reasons why concealment was negatively associated with mental health. Bisexual men who were more concerned than others about concealing their same-sex behavior also tended to report lower levels of social support and more internalized homophobia -- that is, negative attitudes toward their same-sex behavior.
The findings indicate that publically disclosing their same-sex behavior may not be necessary to their mental health, as long as bisexual men have adequate emotional support to cope with other stressors in their lives.
Professionals who do therapeutic work with bisexual men may wish to focus instead on helping such men reduce their perceived need to conceal their same-sex behavior and accept their sexual orientation. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Science News. Journal Reference : Eric W. Schrimshaw, Karolynn Siegel, Martin J. Downing, Jeffrey T. ScienceDaily, 2 January Bisexual men on the 'down low' run risk for poor mental health.
Retrieved May 1, from www. The survey is the largest of its kind in the UK and sheds show that men ScienceDaily shares links with sites in the TrendMD network and earns revenue from third-party advertisers, where indicated. Print Share.
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