Saturday, February 13, 2016

Psychological Well-Being among Religious and Spiritual-identified Young Gay and Bisexual Men

Religiosity and spirituality are often integral facets of human development. Young gay and bisexual men (YGBM), however, may find themselves at odds when attempting to reconcile potentially conflicting identities like religion and their sexual orientation. 

We sought to explore how different components of religiosity (participation, commitment, spiritual coping) are linked to different markers of psychological well-being (life purpose, self-esteem, and internalized homophobia). 

Using data collected in Metro Detroit (N = 351 ages 18-29 years; 47 % African American, 29 % Non-Latino White, 8 % Latino, 16 % Other Race), we examined how components of religiosity/spirituality were associated with psychological well-being among religious/spiritual-identified participants. 

An overwhelming majority (79.5 %) identified as religious/spiritual, with most YGBM (91.0 %) reporting spirituality as a coping source. Over three quarters of our religious/spiritual sample (77.7 %) reported attending a religious service in the past year. Religious participation and commitment were negatively associated with psychological well-being. 

Conversely, spiritual coping was positively associated with YGBM’s psychological well-being. Programs assisting YGBM navigate multiple/conflicting identities through sexuality-affirming resources may aid improve of their psychological well-being. 

We discuss the public health potential of increasing sensitivity to the religious/spiritual needs of YGBM across social service organizations.

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  • Steven Meanley
  • Emily S. Pingel
  • José A. Bauermeister 

  • University of Michigan School of Public Health

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