Predicting Self-Esteem, Well-Being, and Distress in a Cohort of Gay Men: The Importance of Cultural Stigma, Personal Visibility, Community Networks, and Positive Identity


  • The authors gratefully acknowledge Frank Andrews, Laura Klem, and Ronald Kessler for their statistical assistance. We are indebted to Christopher Crandall, Steve Hoey, Lawrence Kurdek, Abigail Stewart, and John Seidel for their comments on this article, to Suzann Eshleman for creating the database, to Michael Eller for historical back-ground on the Chicago Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study site, to Shannon Kennedy for researching gay civil rights in 1992, and to Jack Kirscht for coordinating the project with the principal investigators. While completing this work, the first author was supported by NIMH Training Grant MH15801 to the Research Center for Group Dynamics al the University of Michigan. This research was also supported by NIMH Grants I-ROI-MH3946, 2-ROI-MH39346, and 1-KOI-MH00507, and by the University of Michigan and Harvard University. Portions of this article were presented at the October 1991 Society for Experimental Social Psychology conference in Columbus, OH.

should be addressed to Deborrah E. S. Frable, who is now at the Women's Studies Program. University of Michigan, 234 West Engineering, Ann Arbor, Ml 48109.


ABSTRACT Homosexual and bisexual men (N= 825) enrolled in the Multi-center AIDS Cohort Study in Chicago completed a 90-minute self-administered questionnaire that included the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, a Well-Being Index, and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist. Participants indicated their experiences with gay stigma, their visihility as gay men, their involvement in the gay community, and their commitment to a positive gay identity. Data from this predominantly white, young, educated, and tniddle-class cohort are consistent with a structural model in which cultural stigma is negatively asso-ciated with positive self-perceptions. This within-group result contrasts sharply with between group results that indicate our gay cohort was neither particularly low in global self-esteetn nor high in psychological distress when compared to nonstigmatized samples.