A new study confirms that coming out is good for the mental health of gays and lesbians. In fact, owning their identities may help gays and lesbians actually fare better than their heterosexual counterparts, according to Canadian researchers:
The study looked at 87 men and women of varying sexual orientations, all of whom were around 25 years old. Forty-six identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual and 41 were heterosexual. Participants were given psychological tests and provided multiple urine and saliva samples to test for various biomarkers related to stress and general health.
All of the out participants had lower stress hormone levels and fewer symptoms of depression than those who weren’t public about their sexuality. Out gay and bisexual men also had lower stress and depressive symptoms than heterosexual men.
Previous studies have found similar results, but with caveats. People who come out can develop more significant resilience, but only if they receive positive support when they do. Reactions from parents, coworkers, and peers can have a profound impact on whether gays and lesbians benefit or suffer from coming out.