Specific Problems Facing Gays, Lesbians, and Bisexuals
We have already discussed the increased rates of depression and suicide in gay, lesbian, and bisexual populations. There are also higher rates of substance abuse and alcohol-related problems (Roberts et al., 2005), along with more widespread use of marijuana and cocaine than heterosexual youths and adults (Rosario et al., 2004; Ryan & Futterman,
2001) ; and higher rates of truancy, homelessness, and sexual abuse (H. E. Taylor, 2000).
For many years, psychiatrists and other therapists argued that this showed that homosexual and bisexual groups had greater psychopathology than heterosexuals. In fact, the problems of gay, lesbian, and bisexual life may not be due to psychopathology but to the enormous pressures of living in a society that discriminates against them (Lock & Steiner, 1999). Vulnerable and stigmatized groups in general have higher rates of these types of behaviors, and these problems often result from coping with stigma- related stress.
Homosexuals also face workplace discrimination. Gay men have been found to earn 11% to 27% less than heterosexual men with the same qualifications (Folbre, 1995), and lesbians tend to have even lower household incomes than gay men. (In this way, gender inequities among homosexuals mimic the inequities among heterosexuals.) In addition, homosexuals and bisexuals are particularly vulnerable to harassment and other forms of risk (S. E. James, 1998).