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Results suggest a moderate positive correlation between the two, and point to areas for future consideration when measuring bisexual stigma. Over the past three decades, investigations into the relationship between sexual orientation and health have increased exponentially. The burgeoning field of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender LGBT health has highlighted a number of critical health inequities among these groups when compared to heterosexual or cisgender counterparts.

Although such maneuvers are often driven by a need to increase statistical power given how small sexual minority sub-samples can be , the price of such analytic choices is a continued lack of understanding and knowledge about health needs and experiences of bisexual persons, as well as a lack of knowledge about if and how they may differ from other groups.

In a number of these studies, bisexual groups, and more specifically bisexual women, have had poorer health outcomes than heterosexual or lesbian women. Differences related to substance use and mental health were particularly acute. For example, in a population-based Australian study by Jorm and colleagues Jorm et al.

Measures included depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms and negative affect. The only mental health finding that was not significantly higher or worse among bisexuals was the suicidality measure. The authors also found that as a group, bisexuals had less positive social support from family, more negative support from friends, and were more likely to report both childhood and current adverse events Jorm et al.

For example, whereas Across nine different mood and anxiety disorders, bisexual women had the highest prevalence rates for seven out of the nine disorders Bostwick et al. In order to understand the health behaviors and outcomes of bisexual women—or any group for that matter—it is crucial to acknowledge the socio-cultural context in which they are located, which is to say one in which bisexuality is still highly stigmatized.

Stigma experiences, in turn, likely operate as stressors among bisexual groups Brooks ; Meyer, , accounting in part for the health disparities we see. Aims for the current paper are to:. The study included a new measure of bisexual stigma. The WHIS consisted of a short, self-administered survey and semi-structured qualitative interviews. All participants completed the survey. The survey took approximately 20 minutes to complete, and qualitative interviews ranged from 20 minutes to an hour.

The final N was 47, with 13 women also completing qualitative interviews. Convenience and snowball sampling were used to recruit participants.

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Information about the study was distributed through personal networks and listservs; in community publications, both LGBT-focused and general population; and via flyers posted in coffee shops, churches, bookstores, libraries and LGBT organizations. In addition, all respondents were asked to pass along study information to other bisexual women who might be interested in participating. Potential participants telephoned the study office to go through a brief screening, to ensure that they met inclusion criteria: participants had to be at least 25 years of age, identify as bisexual, and identify as a woman.

However, qualitative interviews were only conducted in private locations. Upon meeting, the consent procedures were outlined. Each participant was given a copy of the form for their records. Once participants signed the consent form, they were given the survey to complete. The author remained nearby to provide clarification should any questions be unclear or confusing. Upon completion of the survey, every participant was asked three open-ended questions: Do you have any additional comments or anything else to add? Did the questions make sense? Were questions related to stigma and discrimination clear; was there anything missing?

Only responses to the latter question are reported on here.

Assessing Bisexual Stigma and Mental Health Status: A Brief Report

Sexual identity was assessed during the phone screening noted above, with the following question: Recognizing that sexual identity is only part of your identity, how do you define yourself? Those women who said bisexual were included. One unlabeled woman was also included, based on lengthy discussion with the researcher.

Response options ranged from strongly agree 5 to strongly disagree 1.

What’s in a Name? Why Women Embrace or Resist Bisexual Identity

The final scale consisted of eleven questions see Table 1. The CES-D is not a diagnostic tool but rather is meant to screen for symptoms of depression. It has shown excellent reliability across a variety of groups. Those participants with scores of 16 or above are considered to meet the cut-off for depression, with higher scores indicating more depressive symptomology. Univariate statistics were run, including frequencies and means.

The age range of the sample was 25 to 66, with an average age of The mean score on the CES-D was Table 1 shows the means and frequencies for each of the single items, as well as the subscales of the bisexual stigma measure. Overall, the mean stigma score for the sample was 3. In terms of the correlations of the stigma subscales and the overall measure itself, stigma consciousness, rejection, and contestation were significantly and highly correlated with one another, and with the overall scale.

The single item assessing internalized biphobia was not significantly associated with either the stigma consciousness subscale or the contestation item. Participant comments about the stigma measure suggested either changes in wording or additional areas that should be considered in future studies. One participant suggested assessing expectations of rejection instead.

Additionally, some participants suggested the need to capture aspects of stigma within relationships, as well as from other bisexual persons. There were also comments related to the overall structure of the measure. Rather, the suggestion was to assess how frequently people had experienced different enactments of stigma. Preliminary tests showed that the measure has high internal reliability. Correlations between sub-scales of the measure were generally high, suggesting that they are measuring a common construct. These findings provide some support to the hypothesis that mental health disparities among bisexual women may in part be associated with the unique stigma that bisexual women face.

In order to more rigorously test this putative relationship using the bisexual stigma measure described here, a number of things should be taken into consideration in future studies. Further, the bisexual stigma measure was only pilot tested among women. Additional testing of this instrument is needed among larger and more diverse samples, to ensure its reliability and validity across different populations. In addition, larger samples will allow for the use of data reduction techniques, such as factor analysis, to further assess relationships between the variables.

Conducting exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses can help to identify the underlying factor structure of the measure, such that sub-scales items are verified or if need be, reassessed or dropped all together. In particular, lack of acceptance, disappointment from others, and not being taken seriously due to a bisexual identity should be incorporated. These questions should also specify the sources of rejection, e.

Finally, the measure would be strengthened by adding items related to exclusion, e. This represents one of the first attempts to quantitatively measure stigma related to bisexuality. These preliminary results are instructive for how to improve and strengthen future iterations of a bisexual stigma measure. She has conducted two small studies with bisexual women, exploring issues of stigma, stress and coping, social support and the role of community.

She recently worked as a Co-Investigator on an NIH R21 grant, examining the prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders among sexual minorities in the United States. The author would like to thank Christine Shaw for her assistance with the study in Chicago, IL, and Emily Kuhnen for her assistance in the preparation of this manuscript.

Europe PMC requires Javascript to function effectively. Recent Activity. In University of Nebraska professor Louis Crompton created academia's first gay studies class; in the first gay studies program in the United States was initiated at California State University, Sacramento. While initially gay studies sought to deconstruct the fallacious nineteenth-century medicalization of homosexuality thus, the substitution of the nonstigmatic gay , and resist what Adrienne Rich would later call patriarchy's "compulsory heterosexuality," by the mids gay academics began turning to literature, resuscitating the tacitly recognized but largely unexamined homosexualities of authors whose canonical status could legitimize a tentative field susceptible to ridicule.

Auden were no longer incidental, but central to a critical literary approach to text, voice, subjectivity, and especially intentionality. Conservatives balked when gay scholars read Herman Melville 's Billy Budd or Shakespearean sonnets as coded gay texts, but reader-response critics also argued that an author's sexuality was irrelevant, because all textual meaning is not received frozen from history but is an active, contemporary creation of a sexually empowered subjectivity.

Nevertheless, a secondary gay canon emerged around definitively gay authors such as E. Forster, W. But only in the late s and early s, under the guidance of lesbian feminism and multiculturalism, would once-Eurocentric gay academia fully embrace the likes of Audre Lorde , James Baldwin , Djuna Barnes , and Langston Hughes.

By the s, gay studies came to a critical turning point. Its achievements were clear: A body of theory had emerged that legitimized nonreproductive sexualities, locating sexual desire in politically marginalized yet physically expressive bodies, and exploring how those bodies operated, or were operated upon, within repressive political climates. But if placing gay and lesbian bodies in opposition to marital and economic norms offered the pleasures of subversion and righteous indignation, it also doomed them to permanent pariah status.

Moreover, there was a growing awareness that gay studies, like the earlier disciplines it critiques, risked producing its own essentialized core gender identities, based upon a naturalized gay identity that still perceived anatomy and biology as inescapable. Missing from these formulations were the often polymorphous forms of gender identity and polyamorous quality of desire. The AIDS crisis, which took its toll throughout the s to Reaganite-Thatcherite indifference, also fueled calls for a new, more radical politics.

Queer theory responded by abandoning the neo-Marxism and social activism of gay rights, and built upon Michel Foucault 's The History of Sexuality — and literary poststructuralism to argue that both sexuality and gender are social constructions produced within specific historical contexts.

Queer social constructionism decouples sexuality from gender, abandoning any notion of sexual orientation as biologically determined. Male and female are no longer biological polarities but malleable constructs, and thus gender and sexuality straight or gay no longer automatically follow from one another.

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Sexual desire is not perceived as fixed and inherent in the body, but as a culturally created response that may or may not be related to a fixed social identity. Incorporating all categories of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, and even voluntary heterosexual desire, "queer," by having no definitive "Other" to mobilize against, represents everything and nothing, and posits a suprademocratic category through which identities — of class and race as well — can radically hybridize and transform.

The same intellectual ferment that began to define gay as retrogressive and queer as politically progressive inspired a new academic vocabulary. The word homophobia, for example, came under new scrutiny in the mids.


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Though it astutely characterized sexual bigotry as a passively received mass neurosis and not a moral choice, Weinberg's term was now seen as etymologically illogical, literally meaning a fear of sameness but figuratively suggesting a fear of otherness. Homophobia was replaced with heterosexism, emphasizing not a special "phobia" but a chauvinism as banally evil as sexism or racism. Heteronormative, popularized by queer theorist Michael Warner in the early s, moves beyond heterosexism's critique of mere prejudice to challenge the ways patriarchy — especially the patriarchy implicit in late global capitalism — normalizes essential gender identity and punishes all nonheterosexual conduct.

Perhaps most influential is Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's neologism homosocial, introduced in Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire , which argues that heterosexual social institutions, particularly marriage, have historically used women to triangulate and transmit male bonds that, while not actually homosexual, transitively accrue ambiguous homoerotic meanings.

After much overuse, however, the parameters of homosociality have become perhaps deliberately vague, and there is a tendency to overoptimistically describe all same-sex, homosocial institutions — schools, prisons, monasteries, and so on — as fertile breeding grounds for imagined or potential homosexualities, regardless of those environments' coercive or insular qualities. More recently, theorists such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak have linked queer and postcolonial arguments to investigate how, even in the postmodern world of hybrids and multiple subjectivities, Asian and African nation-states continue to regulate sexual identity and suppress female agency in accordance with colonialist mentalities that they, in a postcolonial era, have failed to progress beyond, and often unwittingly internalize.

Most radical has been Judith Butler, whose notion of "performativity," first introduced in Gender Trouble and later refined in Bodies That Matter , maintains that gender is not simply a construct into which humans are historically delivered, but is a mask, a controllable, conscious act of mimicry, parody, and self-parody, as best represented in drag performance. After Butler, however, queer theory's drive to reimagine sexuality without boundaries or definitions seemed to reach an impasse.

One emergent critique sees the elegant philosophical games and abstruse language of authors such as Butler and Spivak as elitist, and questioned whether such texts can be effective political tools for inspiring large-scale cultural change.

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Some authors even question the concept of Butlerian performativity, dismissing it as stylistic gamesmanship. While queer theorists might argue that questions of rhetoric and performance are key to sociopolitical norms and thus to their transformation, the critique of queer theory as elitist and jargon-filled has nonetheless been widely perceived as justified.

Some gay scholars have, in response, recast queer theory in more populist terms, as does Warner in The Trouble with Normal , in which he suggests that by seeking marriage rights, gays and lesbians misguidedly try to legitimatize their sexualities through an oppressively monogamous, proprietary, shame-based institution that forbids constructions of freer sexuality.

As national debates about gay marriage and civil rights continue, the gay identity politics queer postmodernism hoped to replace are making a resurgence. Recent years have seen a slightly less radical interpretation of queerness, which, lest it unintentionally reproduce an intolerant, authoritarian voice within queer communities, should also potentially include identity-based gay activism and oppositional lesbian feminism.

Boswell, John. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, Butler, Judith. Crompton, Louis. Homosexuality and Civilization. Cambridge, Mass. Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Vol. Translated by Robert Hurley. New York : Pantheon, Hirschfeld, Magnus. The Homosexuality of Men and Women. Translated by Michael A. Amherst, N. Murphy, John. Homosexual Liberation: A Personal View. New York : Praeger, Rich, Adrienne. New York: Norton, Saikaku, Ihara. The Great Mirror of Male Love. Translated by Paul Gordon Schalow. Stanford, Calif. Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky.

Epistemology of the Closet. Ulrichs, Karl Heinrich. Buffalo, N. Collected works of Ulrichs. Warner, Michael, ed. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Grossman, Andrew " Gay Studies. Grossman, Andrew "Gay Studies. September 26, Retrieved September 26, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.

Formed out of scholarly conferences in the s, queer studies started as an elite academic movement of primarily humanities scholars who had taken a lead in developing lesbian and gay social constructionist studies in the s Fuss Social science scholars were largely absent from its beginning intellectual formations see, for example, Fuss ; Abelove et al. Correcting for this absence, two important edited readers stand out in foregrounding a queer perspective for the social sciences and, conversely, a more social standpoint for queer studies. While this volume importantly situates the development of sexuality studies within earlier British sociological work on homosexuality e.

As Steven Epstein and Arlene Stein and Ken Plummer noted, earlier sociological work on sexuality as socially constructed was problematically absent from the new onslaught of queer studies scholarship.

How Do We Flirt with Women? - LESBIAN VS BISEXUAL

Social Perspectives in Lesbian and Gay Studies , edited by Peter Nardi and Beth Schneider, is the other key reader in sociology that highlights a queer perspective as the latest word in conceptualizing sexualities. Contradictorily, since the mids, queer studies and the sociology of sexualities have converged in their analytical focuses while continuing to remain apart in their conversations and debates see, for example, David Eng et al. The fields converge, however, in their Foucauldian conceptualization of power as disciplinary, exclusionary, and normalizing, as well as in their studying of identities, institutions, and relations of state, nation, and globe.

These contradictions notwithstanding, queer studies and the sociology of sexualities come together in their analysis of identities, from their gender and sexual interaction to the problematizing of heterosexual identities to the analyzing of the multiple ways race, class, and gender, in addition to sexuality, interact, and finally to the very limit of identity itself. Additionally, the two fields have made the relationships between processes of sexualities and nationalism, colonialism, and globalization key trends as well.

Conceptual framework

This entry will briefly review some of these convergences in detail. Female masculinity, for Halberstam, extends the concept of masculinity beyond men to include women, and views masculinity as a general form of gender expression and practice that lesbians, butch lesbians, butch women, as well as nonlesbian females, draw on to project authority, strength, and aggression in social life.

Building on the work of Monique Wittig , Adrienne Rich , and Connell, queer studies continues to make compulsory heterosexuality and heterosexual identities problematic and in need of social explanation. Since the early s, scholarship on intersectionality has proliferated in the field. The last key trend in queer studies is scholarship on nationalism, colonialism, and globalization and its relation to sexual practices. Important work by Joyti Puri shows the continuities and discontinuities in transnational discourses of menstruation, marriage, pornography, and homosexuality for Indian women today.

The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. New York : Routledge. Bettie, Julie. Women without Class: Girls, Race, and Identity. Berkeley: University of California Press. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Contingent Foundations. New York: Routledge. Chauncey, George. New York: Basic Books. Chodorow, Nancy. Oedipal Asymmetries and Heterosexual Knots. Social Problems 23 4 : — Femininities, Masculinities, Sexualities: Freud and Beyond.

Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. Connell, R. Epstein, Steven. Steven Seidman, — Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Esterberg, Kristin.


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Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Ferguson, Roderick. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Fraser, Nancy.