Theses Doctoral

Investigating the Effects of Heteronormativity and Minority Stress on Mental Health, Well-being, Disclosure, and Concealment of Non-Gay Identifying and [Behaviorally] Bisexual Men

Merlino, David M.

The purpose of this research was to explore social hardships of non-gay identifying, [behaviorally] bisexual, and “other” marginal LGBTQ+ men who are sexually intimate with men in a heteronormative and [toxic] masculine world. Relatedly, hegemonic masculinity dominates the patriarch through regulating behavioral norms that often stigmatize and discriminate opposing traits, ideologies, or groups, such as LGBTQ+. This has been known to affect and mediate health outcomes and “outness.” Therefore, this study explored how minority stressors impact self-concept, mental health, well-being, and motivations to disclose and/or conceal.

Data collection involved survey and interview formats (mixed-methods cross-sectional design) that assessed internalized homophobia, conformity to masculine norms, subjective masculinity stress, disclosure, and concealment in relation to lifestyle and social context. While all variables had expected linear associations, not all were causal. Those who conformed to masculine norms significantly experienced internalized stigma/homophobia. Hence, it can be hypothesized that participants who conformed sought to conceal stigma under pressure of heteronormative culture and the patriarch. However, subjective masculinity stress was nonsignificant, exemplifying hegemonic influence as more defining to their self-concept than their own. Further, minority stress constructs (masculine norms, internalized stigma/homophobia, and subjective masculinity stress), when age, regional location, and faith were controlled, significantly predicted less disclosure and more concealment in social contexts. This reinforces the power of modern patriarchy/masculine norms/minority stress and its adverse effects on mental health, well-being, and outness in marginalized populations of LGBTQ+.

Relatedly, qualitative data validated these quantitative findings but generally over the lifecycle of “coming out” as opposed to respondents’ current growth and development in outness, mental health, and well-being. However, to further affirm such quantitative findings, both survey and interview data did report distress regarding modern day masculinity and its ill standards that place unrealistic expectations on men, which continue to create disparities among and between many communities and humanity.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
Rajan, Sonali
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
October 25, 2023