A 15-year-old girl came out to her parents this week, by baking them a cake. According to new research, she's now less likely to be depressed, cynical, stressed, or anxious.
PROBLEM: For every self-possessed, confident gay teen we get to hear from, there are unhappy reminders that being out and proud can still be incredibly painful and difficult. In a risk/benefit analysis, might it be best for sexual minorities to just stay closeted?
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METHODOLOGY: A small group of self-identified hetero-, homo-, and bisexual adults gathered at the Centre for Studies on Human Stress in Montreal and were evaluated for psychological well-being and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Researchers analyzed the volunteer's body fluids -- blood, saliva, and urine -- in order to measure to what degree, if any, they expressed physiological signs of chronic stress.
RESULTS: Lesbians, gays, and bisexuals who were out and open about their sexuality had fewer signs of anxiety, depression, and burnout (i.e. emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of personal accomplishment), and lower cortisol levels, than those who were still closeted to friends and family.
LGB adults who were out were just as happy, healthy, and satisfied with their jobs as their straight counterparts. Out gay and bisexual men actually had lower rates of depression, and were more physically fit, than straight men.