As it turns out, coming out of the closet is good for your health -- if your family members are supportive, that is.
A new study conducted by the Boston University School of Public Health found that two thirds of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults in a representative Massachusetts sample experienced significantly less mental health and substance abuse problems if they received positive support from their parents after coming out.
"Given the high rates of suicide and self-harm among lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth–and the high costs of treating mental-health and substance-abuse disorders—it’s critical that we understand what we can do to promote better health for LGB kids," Emily Rothman, Ph.D, who co-authored the study with her colleagues, told PsychCentral. "The way that parents treat their LGB children when they come out is an important public health topic that has received too little attention to date."
Interestingly, as media outlets including Queerty have pointed out, authors found that the act of coming out (instead of remaining “closeted”) was generally associated with better health for lesbian and bisexual women, but less so for gay and bisexual men. "In general, gay and bisexual men may be able to conduct their sexual lives apart from their parents with less stress," Rothman noted. "On the other hand, it’s also possible that this was an artifact of our particular sample."
Published in the Journal of Homosexuality, researchers reportedly surveyed 5,658 adults between the ages of 18 and 64 in Massachusetts using a statewide surveillance system.