Internalised Homophobia: Correlations With Depression, Anxiety, Suicidal Ideation and Coming Out Age in the Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Community of Aotearoa New Zealand
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Internalised homophobia is defined as negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality that many lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) individuals hold within themselves. Studies have shown that internalised homophobia is linked to the development of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. No studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between internalised homophobia and psychological distress in the New Zealand LGB community. This study aimed to be the first of its kind to quantitatively investigate the relationship between internalised homophobia, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation symptoms in the New Zealand LGB community. The study also aimed to investigate how age and the age of coming out influenced feelings of internalised homophobia. A quantitative cross-sectional study of 359 LGB participants from the New Zealand general population was conducted. Participants completed an online survey containing measures of psychological distress, including SIDAS, DASS-21 and IHS. Multiple regression analyses were performed to assess relationships between internalised homophobia, psychological distress, age and coming out age. A total of 98% of participants reported feelings of internalised homophobia. The study found that internalised homophobia significantly contributed to anxiety and depression in gay men, lesbians and bisexual women and contributed to symptoms of depression in gay men and bisexual women. Internalised homophobia only predicted suicidal ideation in lesbians and bisexual women. LGB participants aged 16-19 years reported significantly higher levels of internalised homophobia compared to older age groups, but a significant negative correlation between age and internalised homophobia was only observed in gay men and bisexual women. The study results also found that coming out at a younger age did not reduce feelings of internalised homophobia. However, the number of years since disclosing sexual orientation did significantly correlate with lower levels of internalised homophobia in gay men. These results may prove to have clinical implications for developing interventions to reduce the levels of internalised homophobia in LGB individuals that could improve mental health outcomes.