Gay and bisexual men are happier than straight men — as long as they're out, according to a new University of Montreal study published in the current issue of Psychosomatic Medicine. According to USA Today, the study of 87 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual Canadians — some out, some still in the closet — found that queer folks who had come out to their family and friends "have less anxiety, depression, and burnout" than those who hadn't. Moreover, the study's lead author Robert-Paul Juster, said that, as a group, out gay and bi men "were less likely to be depressed than heterosexual men and had less physiological problems than heterosexual men."
"Our research suggests coming out of the closet has some health benefits," said Juster. "Coming out is no longer a matter of popular debate, but a matter of public health."
The study is a surprise since it comes on the heels of other studies that pointed to high levels of depression in LGBT folks, especially during the coming-out process. But, Juster said, "Something about coming out of the closet might make them more resilient — if you go through a major, stressful event like that you have to develop coping strategies that you might be able to use in the future. We also saw body mass index and inflammation were lower in gay and bisexual men, which fits with the idea that they're taking better care of their bodies than heterosexual men."
Juster said more studies are needed, especially those that focus on the mental health of gay and bisexual women and men who live in states that have approved marriage equality.
"I think in the United States we have a golden opportunity to look at states before and after gay marriage legalization and passage of other policies," Juster told Jason Koebler. "I'd like to do a similar study, using a lot of biological measures, to see if there's something about legalization [of same-sex marriage] that improves mental health."