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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Study: Homophobic People Die Younger

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 7:45 AM

click to enlarge gayborhoodbeat.jpg

One of the common insults leveraged at LGBT folks by homophobes is that our sexuality is "unhealthy." But new research shows the opposite is true. A recently published study in the American Journal of Public Health found that those who had high anti-gay prejudices lived an average of 2.5 years less than those who didn't.

"Anti-gay prejudice is associated with elevated mortality risk among heterosexuals, over and above multiple established risk factors for mortality," wrote the researchers, led by Mark L. Hatzenbuehler of Columbia University.

The study questioned over 20,000 heterosexuals, and the earlier death results were consistent across all variables, such as age, marital status, socioeconomic status, level of education, gender, and self-rated health status. Interestingly, the researchers' questions focused more on morality rather than, say, violent tendencies, asking things like:

  • If some people in your community suggested that a book in favor of homosexuality should be taken out of your public library, would you favor removing this book, or not? 
  • Should a man who admits that he is a homosexual be allowed to teach in a college or university, or not?
  • Suppose a man who admits that he is a homosexual wanted to make a speech in your community. Should he be allowed to speak, or not?
  • Do you think that sexual relations between two adults of the same sex is always wrong, almost always wrong, wrong only sometimes, or not wrong at all?

The study comes somewhat ironically on the heels of another study that said lesbians, bis, and gays have shorter life expectancies due to anti-gay prejudice and stigma, in this case by an alarming 12 years. This just goes to show (once again) that hating on people makes everyone sick.

Why do those who support discrimination die 2.5 years earlier than those who are more tolerant? Researchers believe that harboring anti-gay views leads to higher levels of anger and stress, which in turn make us more prone to longer-term health problems like heart disease. 

As the authors note, "Physiological changes associated with anger, such as increased cardiac responses, have been linked to the development of hypertension and to coronary heart disease." Previous research shows a similar mortality link between those who harbor racial prejudice as well. For some reason, LGBT intolerance poses a bigger health risk than racial intolerance: 

"[O]ur sensitivity analyses indicated that anti-gay prejudice increased mortality risk more strongly than racial prejudice."

In case you needed another reason to be nice to those who are different than you, now you have it: It's for your health.

Follow @annapulley on Twitter. She'll tweet you right.

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Anna Pulley


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