I just read an interesting article on Keith Boykin’s webpage that sites a Columbia University study about the mental health of black gays and lesbians. According to the study, black gays and lesbians reported having fewer mental disorders than their white counterparts. Keith suggests that there are two reasons for this: 1) black gays and lesbians have been taught to cope with racism growing up and that better equips them to cope with homophobia, and 2) they’ve succeded in creating communities of like-minded indiviuals that help counter the isolation of being alone.
With any study that makes such a grandiose conclusion, it is wise to always question it’s merit. In this case, the sample size of 388 folk was taken from a population of blacks, whites and latinos living in New York City. It can be argued therefore, that the sample is not representative of the entire population, but rather reflects the already heightened esteem and mental health of people who have benefited from living in a more tolerant environment. If the sample size had captured out, black gays and lesbians living in small towns in the South and the Midwest, the findings would probably paint a completely different picture.
Despite the danger of expanding the conclusions of this study to an entire population, it is encouraging to know that creating a community that is nurturing and supportive to gays and lesbians can reduce the instances of metal disorders. Personally, it makes the fight for equal rights and protection under the law for same-gender loving folks the right and just thing to do.