Discrete Effects of Religiosity and Spirituality on Gay Identity and Self-Esteem

Suzanne Stern, A. Jordan Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has indicated that although spirituality may bolster development of a positive gay identity, religiosity may prove detrimental. Because the majority of this research confounds these constructs, there is little evidence as to the discrete roles religiosity and spirituality may play in LGB identity development. The present study endeavored to tease apart the unique effects of religion and spirituality on positive and negative gay identity and self-esteem. A sample of 376 self-identified sexual minority adults were given measures of religiosity, spirituality, LGB identity, and self-esteem. Models were built to evaluate the effects of religiosity (independent of spirituality) and spirituality (independent of religiosity), understanding that the constructs are greatly overlapped, on identity and self-esteem. Results included a positive association between spirituality and identity affirmation, identity superiority, and self-esteem. Religiosity was negatively associated with identity affirmation and self-esteem and positively associated with internalized homonegativity and heteronormativity. Limitations and implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1071-1092
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 3 2018


  • Bisexuality
  • gay identity
  • homosexuality
  • religiosity
  • self-esteem
  • sexual orientation
  • spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • General Psychology


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