There is some interesting data from a new study showing that Black gay men and lesbians have fewer mental disorders than white gay men and lesbians. How about that?
The study was conducted by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Researchers initially thought that because of stress related to both racial and anti-gay prejudice that Black gays would have more mental disorders than our white counterparts. But that turned out not to be the case:
“These findings suggest that black lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals have effective ways to cope with prejudice related to racism and homophobia” noted Ilan H. Meyer, PhD, associate professor of clinical Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health and principal investigator of the study.
The study of 388 white, black and Latino New York City residents aged 18 – 59 who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual is the first population-based study of its kind to examine the prevalence of mental disorders among black and Latino, versus white, lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals.
But, challenges remain as the study also found that more Black and Latino LGB people than whites reported attempting suicide. The suicide attempts occurred at younger ages and most likely coincided with issues around coming out which is a difficult period for most of us.
The higher rate of attempted suicide among LGBT youth of color speaks to the need for increased research and funding for effective programs to provide social and mental health support for the impacted youth.
More information on the study which will be published in the November 2007 American Journal of Public Health can be found here.