Psychological Impact of Anti-LGBT Actions

The following items are all related to my long-standing interest in the psychological impacts of anti-LGBTQ political actions. They are listed here in chronological order to highlight the evolution of this body of research over time.

In 1992, the citizens of Colorado ratified Amendment 2, effectively stripping lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals of protection from discrimination under the state’s constitution. Voted Out is the first book to document the psychological impact of anti-gay legislation on the gay community, illustrating the range of reactions, from depression, anger, and anxiety to a sense of empowerment and a desire to mobilize, which such legislation can engender. Published as part of the NYU Press “Qualitative Studies in Psychology” series, the book also offers a detailed account of an innovative team approach to qualitative coding and analysis.

This video explores the motivations that inspired heterosexual allies to take stands on behalf of lesbian and gay people who were targeted by Colorado’s anti-gay Amendment 2. Also examined are the role of religion, the costs of working as an ally, and the benefits of such work (2005).

This article reports a follow-up analysis of the data collected after the US Supreme Court declared Colorado’s anti-gay Amendment 2 unconstitutional. The study used factor analysis to identify the major stressor and resilience factors faced by LGB people when they encounter anti-LGB campaigns and elections. The paper reviews these factors and also discusses implications and potential applications of the results. (This article loads slowly.)

This article, which was written for general audiences, summarizes much of the research on the psychological impacts of anti-LGBTQ politics. In the process, it demystifies what anti-LGBTQ politics do to people, and also offers specific steps that individuals and groups can take to turn such events into occasions for growth.

This paper, written for general audiences, builds on the one above, discussing the impact of a particular type of anti-LGBTQ political action—namely, referenda designed to prohibit or eliminate equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. This paper, like others in this group, not only examines the costs of such referenda but also suggests positive directions for the individuals and communities that they target. Until 2012, the pro-LGBT position consistently lost in such elections. In that year, however, LGBT rights triumphed in four elections, perhaps heralding a decline in these initiatives.

This book chapter employs a case study to examine the often-unrecognized impact of anti-LGBT political actions on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender clients. The chapter explores key principles that can be used to illuminate such situations and discusses their application in therapy with a gay client.

The study reportede in this article was a follow-up to the research reported in Voted Out and subsequent articles described above. The article describes a qualitative study that explored community members’ perceptions of the longer term impact of Colorado’s anti-gay Amendment 2, including the campaign, election, and judicial reversal. Interviews with a sample of LGB and heterosexual informants reveal the enduring impact of Amendment 2 on individuals, the LGBT community, and the broader community.

I have used this handout extensively in workshops designed to help individuals and communities not only survive but also to grow stronger in the face of anti-LGBT political attacks. The handout provides a simple summary of a now-large body of research on both the negative impacts and the empowerment that characterize people’s response to these events.

This handout was created following the murder of scores of people in a gay bar on June 12, 2016. Originally intended as a document to be distributed through list serves and at local events in the subsequent few days, it was soon circulated through a variety of print, broadcast, and social media. This version represents an attempt to distill the key features of several versions of the document. The document has been reproduced and distributed through numerous agencies and individuals in the U.S. and internationally, so it can also be found on line.

This link connects you to a radio interview conducted less than 48 hours after the murders in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. The discussion explores the meaning and implications of this tragedy, and also suggests strategies for resilience and community-building in the face of such events.