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Similarities and Differences in the Pursuit of Intimacy among Sexual Minority and Heterosexual Individuals: A Personal Projects Analysis

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  • Funding for this project was provided by a grant-in-aid from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI—APA Division 9) and a research grant from the City University of New York, Graduate School and University Center. The author thanks Suzanne Ouellette, Ilan Meyer, Michelle Fine, Brian Little, Robert Kertzner, and William Cross, Jr. for their advice in designing the study and feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to David M. Frost, Assistant Professor, San Francisco State University, Department of Sexuality Studies, 835 Market Street, Suite 517, San Francisco, CA 94103 [e-mail: frost@sfsu.edu].

Abstract

Negative attitudes and discriminatory policies pertaining to same-sex relationships create social and structural inequalities, privileging heterosexuals’ abilities to achieve intimacy while impeding the intimacy-related pursuits of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals. This study examined the pursuit of intimacy in the form of intimacy-related personal projects among a sample of 431 LGB and heterosexual individuals. LGBs and heterosexuals did not differ in how meaningful they rated their intimacy projects. LGBs perceived more devaluation and barriers to achieving their intimacy projects than heterosexuals. These differences were more pronounced at the macrosocial level (e.g., laws and policies). No significant sexual orientation differences were observed regarding participants’ job-related projects, highlighting the domain specificity of project devaluation and barriers. Results suggest that the pursuit of intimacy is highly meaningful for both LGBs and heterosexuals. Nonetheless, LGBs experience minority stressors specific to their relational pursuits from both interpersonal and macrosocial sources, including discriminatory laws and policies.

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