Publication Date

2012-05-02

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2012-05-02

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense

2012-04-13

First Committee Member

Guerda Nicolas

Second Committee Member

Isaac Prilleltensky

Third Committee Member

Kent Burnett

Fourth Committee Member

Lynne Harkless

Abstract

While minority stress research increasingly show that high rates of homonegative experiences can contribute to negative mental health outcomes in gay men, less is known about the ways in which gay men cope with these experiences and their potential to experience positive outcomes such as well-being and identity growth. Understanding the strengths of gay men in coping with numerous, multi-faceted homonegative experiences is essential in creating an accurate understanding of gay men’s development and informing research, policy, and practice around gay men’s well-being and growth. This study seeks to describe the nature of gay men’s homonegative experiences, describe the coping skills and resources used to cope with these experiences, examine the positive psychological outcomes of well-being and identity growth, and investigate the relationship between homonegative experiences, coping, and strength-based growth and well-being. Participants for the online survey included 214 self-identified gay men recruited through list-servs, e-newsletters, organizational email lists, and referrals. Descriptive data indicate that gay men: 1) Experience many types of homonegative experiences, in many environments, and at the hands of many people in their lives; 2) utilize many different coping skills to respond to homonegative experiences, as well as accessing social support and community resources; and 3) experience elevated levels of mental health problems, but also experience well-being and identity growth. Path models indicate that self-blame, self-distraction, humor, community involvement, and social support are important coping factors in predicting the impacts of homonegative experiences on mental health, well-being, and identity growth. Limitations and implications for future research and practice are also discussed.

Keywords

gay men; homonegativity; mental health; strengths; coping; social support

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