SOURCES OF STRENGTH AND RELATIONAL CATALYSTS: TWO MODELS TO REDUCE PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS AND PROMOTE THRIVING AMONG SEXUAL MINORITIES

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2022-08-15

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Abstract

Sexual minorities are a growing population that continues to experience minority stress despite significant strides in public acceptance. Sexual minority individuals (i.e., those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or not heterosexual) experience elevated stress (i.e., minority stress) due to their relatively low-status position in society. Discrimination against sexual minority individuals results in higher rates of psychological distress and suicidality compared to people who are heterosexual. However, community connectedness can be a source of strength to mitigate the internalization of sexual stigma and improve sexual minorities' mental health. Furthermore, the community can act as a relational catalyst to promote thriving during flourishing times. In the current research, two related models were proposed: 1) the Minority Community Model, to describe how sexual minority individuals can use community connectedness to lessen the influence of minority stress on their mental health, and 2) the Minority Thriving Model, to explain how sexual minority individuals can use community connectedness to thrive. Two studies used the three-wave Generations dataset to test these models. Analyses were conducted using mixed-effects growth curve modeling. Study 1 tested the Minority Community Model. Results largely did not support study one hypotheses. Community connectedness was not a buffer against victimization or discrimination. Study 2 tested the Minority Thriving Model. There was no influence of community connectedness on the trajectories of sexual minority individuals’ well-being, life satisfaction, and happiness. Study 1 and 2 offer a steppingstone into understanding the long-term effects of community connectedness on sexual minorities experiences with adversity and thriving.

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Keywords

Sexual minorities, Minority stress, Discrimination, Psychological distress, Sources of strength, Relational catalysts, Thriving

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