Religious Affiliation, Internalized Homophobia, and Mental Health in Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals

David M. Barnes, Ilan H. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most religious environments in the United States do not affirm homosexuality. The authors investigated the relationship between exposure to nonaffirming religious environments and internalized homophobia and mental health in a sample of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (LGBs) in New York City. Guided by minority stress theory, the authors hypothesized that exposure to nonaffirming religious settings would lead to higher internalized homophobia, more depressive symptoms, and less psychological well-being. The authors hypothesized that Black and Latino LGBs would be more likely than White LGBs to participate in nonaffirming religious settings and would therefore have higher internalized homophobia than White LGBs. Participants were 355 LGBs recruited through community-based venue sampling and evenly divided among Black, Latino, and White race or ethnic groups and among age groups within each race or ethnic group, as well as between women and men. Results supported the general hypothesis that nonaffirming religion was associated with higher internalized homophobia. There was no main effect of nonaffirming religion on mental health, an unexpected finding discussed in this article. Latinos, but not Blacks, had higher internalized homophobia than Whites, and as predicted, this was mediated by their greater exposure to nonaffirming religion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-515
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Affirming religious settings
  • Bisexuals
  • Gay men
  • Homophobia
  • Homosexuality
  • Internalized homophobia
  • Lesbians
  • Minority stress theory
  • Nonaffirming religious settings
  • Self-esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Religious Affiliation, Internalized Homophobia, and Mental Health in Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this