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Straights, Gays Equally Happy with Life

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Gay adults are just as pleased with their overall quality of life as their straight counterparts, a team of researchers reports.

``Whatever makes somebody happy or unhappy is not as simple as the gender of the people they have sex with,'' study co-author Dr. David L. Weis, a professor of family and consumer sciences at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, told Reuters Health.

``There's an awful lot of stuff passed around in the culture on how gays face unusual life circumstances, pressures and discrimination--and this leads them to have a higher level of problems than straight people tend to face,'' Weis stated. ``We thought we'd test that idea.''

The researchers analyzed data from surveys of 1,500 men and women and determined whether the study participants were heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or not sexually active. The survey participants had been asked to report the gender of their sex partners since age 18 and within the past year. They also reported on a variety of quality of life measurements, such as their recent moods, their overall life satisfaction and their physical and mental health.

The data were taken from seven surveys conducted by the National Opinion Research Center between 1988 and 1996. The findings were published in The Journal of Sex Research.

The researchers found few significant differences in quality of life measurements between homosexual and heterosexual men and women. For example, gay and bisexual adults were slightly more likely to bar hop than heterosexual adults. But no significant differences in mental health or life satisfaction were found between the two groups.

``We found little support for the idea that as a group, gays and bisexuals face more serious problems than do other groups,'' Weis said. ``Whatever affects quality of life is more complex than that.''

Weis noted it is possible that subsets of gay adults may experience a lessened quality of life, such as gay men and women who remain ``in the closet'' and have less social support. However, the survey did not differentiate between people who were closeted or open about their sexuality.

``It's possible that gays in the closet have more problems than gays who are not in the closet,'' he noted. ``You'd expect that people who are open about this part of their life would have a more extensive support network, and that ought to translate to having a better quality of life.''

SOURCE: The Journal of Sex Research 2001;38:205-218.

Reference Source 89


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