Stressors for Gay Men and Lesbians: Life Stress, Gay-Related Stress, Stigma Consciousness, and Depressive Symptoms

Robin J. Lewis, Old Dominion University
Valerian J. Derlega, Old Dominion University
Jessica L. Griffin, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Alison C, Krowinski, Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology

At the time of publication, Jessica Griffin was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


Gay-related stress occurs when gay men and lesbians must deal with stressors that are unique to their sexual orientation. This research examined the relationship of gay-related stress and life events to depressive symptoms. Other potential predictors of depressive symptoms were also considered (internalized homophobia, stigma consciousness, and openness about sexual orientation). A sample of 204 (110 men, and 91 women, three sex-unspecified) gay/lesbian/bisexual individuals completed a packet of self-report measures. The importance of the construct of gay-related stress was demonstrated by explaining independent variance in depressive symptoms compared to variance explained by life stress. Those who reported more severe life stress and more severe gay-related stress also reported more depressive symptoms. Also, gay-related stress and stigma consciousness were independent predictors of depressive symptoms. Those with more severe gay-related stress and more stigma consciousness reported more depressive symptoms. Our results suggest that the construct of gay-related stress is important to understanding the experiences of gay/lesbian/bisexual individuals.