For many LGBT Americans, it is not surprising to find out that there are risky behaviors that many LGBT youths engage in because of the pressures of being, well, ourselves. For lesbians and gays, it can be bad, but apparently, it is far worse for our bisexual sistren and brethren.
The University of Missouri has published a study that those who are neither exclusively straight or gay have higher tendencies to engage in risky behavior, especially when it comes to consumption of alcohol. According to io9, “The authors of the study speculate that college students who are coming out as bisexual, or experimenting with their sexual orientation, in college may be stressed out because of it, and as a result, are engaging in risky behaviors — most notably heavy drinking.”
Part of this may have to do with the tendency to erase bisexuality in the debate over LGBT rights. Many LGBT activists tend to forget to include bisexuals and trans people (as well as intersexuals and asexuals) in the push for equality.
MU assistant professor of psychological sciences Amelia Talley observed that students who were either bisexual or sexually in flux tended to report the heaviest drinking and the most negative consequences from alcohol use. She noted that “Those groups reported drinking to relieve anxiety and depression at higher rates than strictly heterosexual or homosexual individuals. One possible explanation is that people who aren’t either completely heterosexual or homosexual may feel stigmatized by both groups.”
The study was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. It followed some 2000 college students over four years. The students would be surveyed twice a year, asked about their sexual self-identification, attraction and sexual behaviors along with alcohol use. It also asked about why the students drank and any negative consequences that were experienced due to the alcohol use.
Io9 reports that:
The results showed that gays and straights drink at roughly the same rate and that they tend to drink to enjoy social situations. But the other sexual minority groups tended to report more alcohol misuse. “This suggests that it may be the stressful process of developing one’s sexual identity that contributes to problematic drinking,” said Talley in a press release, “just as people in any difficult situation in life may turn to alcohol to alleviate stress.”
Talley also found that there were some differences when it came to sexual behaviors and identity. She stated that “Females showed the greatest degree of sexual orientation fluidity. They were able to admit a certain degree of attraction to the same gender without defining themselves as completely homosexual.” She also suggested that “women may be more open to admitting to same-sex attractions because women are more likely to be objectified as sexual objects in our culture; hence, women are accustomed to assessing the attractiveness of other women in comparison to themselves.”
She also found that males tended to be content to define themselves as either straight or gay, but thinks that most men are not quite aware that it’s possible to be mostly straight or mostly gay. These findings are very similar to findings from other studies.