Region, Social Identities, and Disclosure Practices as Predictors of Heterosexist Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities in the United States



Exposure to heterosexist discrimination may vary by a person's place of residency. Utilizing a minority stress perspective, an online survey of self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals (n = 285) examined whether rural and small town inhabitants experienced greater exposure to six types of enacted stigma. After comparing the frequency of enacted stigma by community type, findings demonstrated that rural LGBs reported experiencing more homophobic statements, property damage, and employment discrimination than urban LGBs. Small town LGBs also encountered additional amounts of housing discrimination and were more often chased by strangers compared with urban sexual minorities. Finally, disclosure practices and hierarchies based on race and social class also influenced exposure to discrimination. The importance of spatial factors often intensified when respondents disclosed their sexual identity more publicly. When exploring racial and class differences, affluent sexual minorities experienced less employment discrimination and white sexual minorities were less likely to experience several forms of heterosexist events (especially being punched and kicked).