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.” 

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

  1. Maggie November 21, 2008 at #

    I’m heterosexual, and I felt very directly affected by the passing of yes on 8. My very best friend is gay, and so naturally, I want her to have the same rights that I do, and for her future family to have the same level of acceptance that I hope mine will. Then there are the gay parent blogs that I frequent–their families are no less important than my future family or any family in this country.

    But beyond having compassion for & fighting/voting for the constitutional rights of my very dear friend & blogosphere “friends”…I am offended and shocked that MY FELLOW AMERICANS voted FOR discrimination.

    Living in LA, I sometimes feel I’m in a bubble of shiny happy liberal SoCal people (ok, the WESTSIDE, not Hollywood so much)…I feel safe, and felt confident that AT LEAST people here would vote against prop 8–how couldn’t they? Everyone here seems so accepting of the gay community. But even LA county voted a yes on 8 majority, and the world I thought I knew seems much different now. I look around my daily life and wonder, did my Starbucks barista vote yes? What about that nice manager at my grocery store? The subcontractors on my jobsite? The funny security guard in the gatehouse of the neighborhood of one of my projects? All of these people I encounter and exchange hellos and a gentle wave with daily…did they vote for discrimination against my friends?

    So though heterosexual, I am offended by the actions of my neighbors. I’m shocked that at this day in age, a majority of this supposedly “liberal” state voted yes. It just sickens me.

    (At least I was raised “properly” in Massachusetts, and THOSE “Fellow Americans” (and family members) haven’t let us down! Nor have they added same-sex marriage to the school curriculum. Funny, I wonder what school the children of that Massachusetts couple on one of the “yes on 8” commercials go to…)

  2. Shane November 21, 2008 at #

    I wish I could come up with somethign more, um … I mean less, um … obvious I suppose, other than a great big old DUH!

    I’ll think it over and try to post a comment filled with wit and lacking in sarcasm later.

  3. JenRink November 21, 2008 at #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! It is so nice to finally have a diagnosis. Even though I and everybody else I know has been physically, emotionally, and mentally traumatized by this over the last few months on some level I kind of felt like we were all just taking this a little too seriously. My own blog has been like a case-study in PTSD for the last month. I’m wondering now if I can sue my Mormon neighbor who tried to get me to take his chocolate-chip cookies and YesOnH8 bumper stickers for emotional distress.

  4. Lesbian Dad November 21, 2008 at #

    Yeah. I got your chocolate chip cookies right here, bub.

    But no, seriously. Several people in our regional LGBT parents’ organization wrote our email list with wrenching emotional dilemmas regarding people who described themselves as friendly neighbors, whatever, and said “It’s not personal; it’s not anything about you; I love you and your kids,” right before saying they were going to vote their family’s legal recognition and equal status right out from underneath them.

    What do you do with that?

    Like Maggie says, it’s an eerie thing, co-existing with so many who — in our experience — really don’t get the damage that decision does, the conscious decision to demote us from equal to unequal, in the eyes of the law. What that does to us, what that does to us as parents trying to protect our kids in the best possible way. I actually think a great many really don’t get it. Perhaps, in a cyclical way, or tautologically, for the very reasons that they’re willing to vote that way in the first place. (I know I’ll have to take another pass at this again sometime to make sense of this.)

    Prop 8 Terrible Stress Disorder.

  5. Maggie November 22, 2008 at #

    Two more things, LD…

    your response reminded me of the Keith Olbermann clip (which I’m sure you’ve all seen but here you go, nonetheless): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/10/keith-olbermanns-prop-8-s_n_142862.html

    AND…Looky Daddy hit the nail on the head with the title of one of his blog posts, “Your Days are None the Better for What You Have Done” http://www.lookydaddy.com/weblog/2008/11/your-days-are-none-the-better-for-what-you-have-done.html

    Seriously. SERIOUSLY!

    Ok I’m done, I promise (with comments on this post. Not the fight for equality.)

  6. Shane November 23, 2008 at #

    Maggie … Not only have I seen the Keith Oberman clip you referred to, a youtube version of it is on the main page of my blog and I am tempted to make it a permanent fixture across the headder of the page. He managed to express exactly what I have been feeling for the past month in that wrap-up and it was nice to hear it from a guy who is simply an ally, not a member of the LGBT 2nd class.

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