Presenting Author:

Yamari Lewis, Research staff

Principal Investigator:

Brian Mustanski



Bisexual, stigma, identity, sexual orientation, depression, internalized stigma, pride, bisexual identity, discrimination


Third Floor, Feinberg Pavilion, Northwestern Memorial Hospital

PH23 - Public Health & Social Sciences

Does Bisexual pride buffer the impact of stigma on depression?

AIM: Research indicates that bisexual individuals report stigma from both heterosexuals and gays/lesbians, although few have compared this stigmatization with regard to differential impact on psychological distress. In a previous study, discrimination from both heterosexuals and gays/lesbians was associated with higher levels of psychological distress (Brewster & Moradi, 2010). Internalized negative attitudes toward bisexuality have been found to be related to depression (Paul et al 2014). Despite this, it is likely that some bisexual individuals (e.g., those with higher bisexual pride) are protected from negative impacts of stigma. This poster examines the influence of bisexual-specific discrimination and internalized stigma on depression, and potential buffering by bisexual identity pride. OBJECTIVE: To examine whether bisexual-specific discrimination and internalized stigma is associated with depression, and whether pride in bisexual identity moderates the relationship. SAMPLE: This poster utilizes a sub-sample of self-identified bisexual men (N=172) from the RADAR study, a longitudinal HIV & substance use cohort study, who completed measures of bisexual-specific stressors (discrimination from heterosexuals, discrimination from gays/lesbians, and internalized stigma), bisexual pride, depressive symptoms and general (not bisexual-specific) internalized stigma. Participants in the analytic sample were between ages 17 to 32 (M = 22.3, SD = 2.9) and were racially/ethnically diverse (37% Black, 30% Latino, 19% White, 10% multi-racial, and 4% other). METHODS: Participants were surveyed twice per year. Cross-sectional analyses (bivariate correlations and linear regressions) were conducted. RESULTS: Contrary to hypotheses, none of the bisexual-specific stressors were significantly associated with depression. Similarly, pride in bisexual identity was not significantly associated with depressive symptoms and did not moderate the associations between bisexual-specific stressors and depression. However, a general measure of internalized stigma was significantly associated with depression (r = .22, p < .01). DISCUSSION: In contrast with previous research, associations between discrimination from both heterosexual and gay/lesbian individuals and psychological distress were not significant in our sample. Of note, our sample reported low levels of discrimination, which may help explain our non-significant findings. Despite a strong correlation between general and bisexual-specific internalized stigma, only the general measure was related to depression. It is possible that having a negative attitude towards same-sex attractions, in particular, rather than a negative attitude towards bisexual attractions, is associated with depression. Finally, previous research has found pride in sexual identity to be associated with lower depression for gay/lesbian individuals (Ghavami et al., 2011), but this did not extend to the bisexual men in our sample.