This article reports a study of the function and composition of social support networks among diverse lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) men and women (n = 396) in comparison to their heterosexual peers (n = 128).
Data were collected using a structured social support network matrix in a community sample recruited in New York City. Our findings show that gay and bisexual men may rely on "chosen families" more than lesbian and bisexual women.
Both heterosexuals and LGBs relied less on family and more on other people (e.g., friends, coworkers) for everyday social support (e.g., recreational and social activities, talking about problems). Providers of everyday social support were most often of the same sexual orientation and race/ethnicity as participants.
In seeking major support (e.g., borrowing large sums of money), heterosexual men and women along with lesbian and bisexual women relied primarily on their families, but gay and bisexual men relied primarily on other LGB individuals.
Racial/ethnic minority LGBs relied on LGB similar others at the same rate as did White LGBs but, notably, racial/ethnic minority LGBs reported receiving fewer dimensions of support.
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- 1Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.
- 2Williams Institute, University of California, Los Angeles.
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