Stigma, Anxiety, and Depression Among Gay and Bisexual Men in Mixed-Orientation Marriages

Max Hopwood, Elena Cama, John de Wit, Carla Treloar
Qualitative Health Research 2019 July 17, : 1049732319862536
The mental health of gay and bisexual men in mixed-orientation marriages is poorly understood. In this article, the authors explore the development of anxiety and depression among gay and bisexual men in heterosexual marriages. Sixteen men, living in the Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and Tasmania were interviewed throughout 2016 and 2017. An analysis of interviews identified four main themes, namely, compulsory heterosexuality, existential distress, compartmentalization, and integration and resolution. Participants reported experiencing anxiety and depression, which were exacerbated by the stigmatization of same-sex attraction and by an overwhelming distress from feelings of shame and guilt regarding their marital infidelity. Findings indicate that gay and bisexual men in mixed-orientation marriages develop anxiety and depression in response to the exigencies of compulsory heterosexuality and the compartmentalizing of same-sex attraction and identity during heterosexual marriage. Coming-out as same-sex attracted resolved men's distress by facilitating an integrative self-structure.


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