A Weekly Diary Study of Minority Stress, Coping, and Internalizing Symptoms Among Gay Men
Objective: Research has demonstrated that gay men are at increased risk for internalizing disorders compared with heterosexual men and that minority stressors are risk factors. However, the mechanisms underlying the associations between minority stressors and internalizing symptoms remain unclear. The current study examined coping strategies (active and disengaged coping) as mediators of the associations between minority stressors (internalized homonegativity [IH] and rejection sensitivity [RS]) and internalizing symptoms. Method: A sample of 147 gay men completed a baseline questionnaire and weekly questionnaires for seven consecutive weeks. Results: At the between-person level, higher IH and RS were associated with higher disengaged coping, but not active coping. In turn, higher disengaged coping was associated with higher internalizing symptoms. Disengaged coping mediated the between-person association between IH and internalizing symptoms. At the within-person level, higher IH and RS were associated with higher disengaged coping, which, in turn, was associated with higher internalizing symptoms. Higher RS was also associated with higher active coping. Disengaged coping mediated the within-person associations between both minority stressors and internalizing symptoms. Of note, some associations with IH became nonsignificant controlling for RS, suggesting that the latter has a stronger influence on coping and internalizing symptoms. Conclusions: Findings demonstrate that gay men’s negative thoughts and feelings about their sexual orientation and anxious expectations of rejection vary from week to week and this weekly fluctuation has an impact on mental health. Further, findings implicate disengaged coping as a mechanism through which minority stressors influence internalizing symptoms.