Faculty Member

Lesbian, gay men, and bisexual individuals (LGBs) often experience distress related to the recognition, self-acceptance, and disclosure of their sexual orientation. Retrospectively reported coping strategies enacted during sexual identity formation among LGBs were assessed in relation to current stress indices measured using environmental (frequency of perceived daily hassles), psychological (perceived distress), and biological (allostatic load [AL] levels representing physiological dysregulations) perspectives. Forty-six healthy LGBs between the ages of 18 and 45 (M = 23.91, SE = .80) participated. Questionnaires included the Ways of Coping Checklist adapted to disclosure milestones, Daily Hassles Inventory, and Perceived Stress Scale. AL was calculated using 21 biomarkers of neuroendocrine, immune, cardiovascular, and metabolic functioning. Avoidance coping during sexual identity formation was positively associated with frequency of daily hassles (β = .598, p < .001), perceived stress (β = .361, p = .015), and AL (β = .405, p = .006). By contrast, seeking social support was negatively associated with perceived stress (β = –.598, p = .048). Emotion-focused coping strategies during LGB sexual identity development are associated with current indices of biopsychosocial stress.