Lesbian Dad

Flash! Anti-gay marriage campaigns cause psychological distress to gay people!

The irony in the post title here is in no way meant to undermine the truth of the statement.  Only to perhaps indicate, through example, some of the impact of that stress: mild delirium and a slighly wild-eyed, gallows humor.

Whilst perusing the Gay Tax Protest site, I saw a piece on this November 18 American Psychological Association press release: “Anti Same-Sex Marriage Amendments Spark Psychological Distress Among GLBT Adults and Their Families, According to New Research.”  

To which I know most of you will react: Doy!  Many of us have been writing about this from an anecdotal standpoint (Terrence’s recent piece, “What It’s Like For Our Children,” for instance, springs right to mind).  But having bona fide research data to back it up, from the APA, kind of sinks it all in deeper.  

Three studies were reported on.  In one,

Participants reported feeling not just alienated from their communities, but fearful that they would lose their children, that they would become victims of anti-gay violence or that they would need to move to a more accepting community.

Yup.  Sounds familiar.

“Minority stress” is the term used to describe the “chronic social stress that minorities experience as a result of social stigmatization.”  Any of us queer folk and our families who lived through an anti-gay marriage campaign in our home state, or an anti-gay people as foster child adopter campaign, as the case may be, can show you our scars from this particular brand of it.  

That’s one third of the story.  Another third is that we can and do all help each other a great deal:

Social support from religious institutions, families, GLBT friends and heterosexual allies led most of the participants “to greater feelings of safety, happiness and strength,” the researchers wrote.

Y’all people who wrote me, for instance, online and off, helped me feel less utterly battered down that I would have without that support.  I am very very fortunate. 

The last third of the story is that one the studies also corroborated the ripple effect of of the anti-gay marriage campaigns on our families.  

My sister, for instance, and my father, felt attacks on me very directly: I am their family, therefore the attacks are on their family.  From the APA press release:

“Some participants identified so deeply with their family member’s experience that they felt equally attacked by these movements and policies,” the researchers wrote. “They considered themselves members of the GLBT community and experienced rejection by others for being a GLBT family member.”

“Typically, we tend to think of anti-GLBT policies such as marriage bans and Proposition 8 as affecting only GLBT people. However, our research suggests that others in addition to GLBT people are also impacted by this legislation and sometimes quite negatively. For example, we learned that some family members experienced a form of secondary minority stress. Although many participants displayed resiliency and effective coping with this stress, some experienced strong negative consequences to their mental and physical health,” said Jennifer Arm, M.S.

Puts the stamp of APA approval on the aphorism, “None of us is free when one of us is chained.”  Also provides, one hopes, a little more context for the powerful feelings of anger and resentment we’re seeing in the wake of the outcomes of these campaigns:

“This information is especially timely, as we see the emotionally charged reactions from GLBT people in the wake of the Proposition 8 passage in California,” he said. “Psychologists serving GLBT clients and their families need to be aware of the real impact of these political forces on the everyday lives of the people most directly affected.”

Again, the APA Press Release:  “Anti Same-Sex Marriage Amendments Spark Psychological Distress Among GLBT Adults and Their Families, According to New Research.” 

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