Identity Conflict Among Religious Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals: The Role of Coping Strategies on Psychological Distress
Yeung, Jeffrey Garrick
Lent, Robert W
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Sexual minority people experience more negative physical and mental health compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people who also identify as religious and spiritual may experience additional negative health outcomes especially in the case that their religious and spiritual values, beliefs, and practices come into conflict with their sexual minority identity. Applying minority stress theory (Meyer, 2003) and the integrative psychological mediation model (Hatzenbuehler, 2009), the present study takes an intersectionality approach (Crenshaw,1989) that examines the relationship between LGB and religious identity conflict and psychological distress and whether religious coping and discrimination-based (i.e., internalization and detachment) coping strategies meditate this link. Participants consisted of 469 religious LGB Christian adults in the United States who took an online survey. Results from a parallel multiple mediator analysis (Hayes, 2018) revealed that religious LGB identity conflict was indirectly related to more psychological distress via internalization coping, detachment coping, and negative religious coping. Unexpectedly, positive religious coping was not significantly related to the study variables, nor did it mediate the identity conflict and psychological distress link. Findings provide evidence for integration and application of intersectionality, minority stress, and psychological mediation theories to examine intersectional identity conflict between one’s LGB and religious identity, identity-specific coping meditators, and psychological distress. A discussion of the study results, limitations, and implications for future research and practice follows.