Thursday, February 20, 2014

Antigay Communities Lead to Early LGB Death

Researchers of what's been deemed as "the first study to look at the consequences of anti-gay prejudice for mortality" have discovered that lesbian, gay and bisexual people living in less open-minded communities have a shorter life expectancy.  GLB people who live in communities with high levels of antigay prejudice are more likely to have a life span that is 12 years shorter than their peers who are not discriminated against.

Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health released a study, which was published online in the Social Science & Medicine journal, which identified a way to measure a community's level of discrimination, beginning in 1988. The information was then linked to death rates form the National Death Index, over a 20-year span.

"Our findings indicate that sexual minorities living in communities with higher levels of prejudice die sooner than sexual minorities living in low-prejudice communities, and that these effects are independent of established risk factors for mortality, including household income, education, gender, ethnicity, and age, as well as the average income and education level of residents in the communities where the respondents lived," the study's lead author, Mark Hatzenbuehler, PhD and an assistant professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, is quoted in a press release as saying.  "In fact," Hatzenbuehler said, "our results for prejudice were comparable to life expectancy differences that have been observed between individuals with and without a high school education."

Results showed that 92% of LGB respondents living in low-prejudice communities were still alive. In contrast, only 78% of the LGB respondents living in high-prejudice communities were still alive, according to the study's authors.

The deaths could largely be attributed to suicide, homicide, and cardiovascular diseases in the high-prejudice communities. LGB people were also more prone to commit suicide at a younger average age (37.5) than those in more welcoming communities (55.7). Still, violent deaths are more likely in more homophobic areas, where the homicide rates are at least three times higher.

Meanwhile, a quarter of deaths in high-prejudice areas were attributable to cardiovascular disease.

"Psychosocial stressors are strongly linked to cardiovascular risk, and this kind of stress may represent an indirect pathway through which prejudice contributes to mortality," Hatzenbuehler said. "Discrimination, prejudice, and social marginalization create several unique demands on stigmatized individuals that are stress-inducing."

Considering that I live in Alabama, this does not bode well for my long term health.  I think I need to start looking harder for a new job in a more accepting area.


Damien Malachy said...

I grew up in rural East Texas and now when I go there to visit family (once a year), I feel oppressed the minute I cross the state line. My family is very accepting and I have never experienced overt hostility in Texas, but the atmosphere seems toxic. That may all be in my head when I am there, but it still raises my blood pressure! Perhaps if my family were in Houston, Austin or Dallas, things might feel different.

Twice I have lived in urban areas with large gay populations and where I had many gay friends. It was such a relief to be able to be with them, just to shop or go to a movie or out to dinner. The loneliness factor when you live in an area with few options to just relax and be yourself -- you know that has to hurt you, body and soul.

SEAN (The Jeep Guy) said...

If I read this correctly, it seems that put health care into 'established risk factors' except for heart disease. I think the ability to be open with your health care providers and live in an area that also allows open sexuality vs closeted contributed to better health and less stressors.

silvereagle said...

Pressure from any source is a detriment to good health to any group, not just gay and not just straight people. The 'study' does not present any unexpected results to me.

JiEL said...

I agree with «silvereagle» and the factors that can affect your health is not only to gay people.

Stress may come from many sources.
Being in a gay hostile environnement isn't the only factor here...

For sure that it cannot help but it also depends on your capacity to resist to it.
Many gays are «unstable» people and are sensitive to many attacks coming from the outside...

Must say that here in Canada and mainly in Montreal and Toronto, gay and LGBT are well accepted and protected too and we still have gays that comite suicide, mostly young ones, teenagers.

I'm more concern about the ones living in VERY hostile and religious countries where being gay is a big offense and are executed because they love another man...
That, for me, is much more worrying because their religions are REAL anti-gay threat.
In USA, you may have such threat from YOUR religious groups but at least, your «almost» protected by your laws....

There is some gay-bashing that led to murders in the past but I hope that it will stop.
No one is at shelter of fouls and maniacs, even straight people..

Nice post.
(((( HUGS ))))

David Jeffreys said...

While all of this seems to make sense, I find these "studies" to be very suspect. There are too many variables that cannot be accounted for especially in studies in which the number (n) is low. Some ethnicities have higher blood pressure. Some regions have better diets. Exercise varies among places. What about genetics. How old did your grandparents live to be?

Do African-Americans also die earlier because of high blood pressure and stress such as job hunting?

Joe, I think your longevity has more to do with your family genetics, than whether you live in a homophobic society.