Sex and the sinner: Comparing religious and nonreligious same-sex attracted adults on internalized homonegativity and distress

Babucarr J. Sowe*, Jac Brown, Alan J. Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)


    Homonegative prejudice has long been connected with poor psychological outcomes. These have often been purported to include internalized homonegativity (IH), an outcome regarded as especially detrimental given its association with a large number of adverse mental health correlates. Given the evidence that homonegative prejudice often prevails most strongly within many mainstream religious contexts, the current study examined whether religious lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals would possess higher levels of internalized homonegativity than their nonreligious, and formerly religious, LGB counterparts. To test this hypothesis, Christian, formerly Christian, and nonreligious Australian LGB respondents (N = 579), recruited through social media platforms and a diverse range of community groups, completed an online survey assessing IH; religion-sexuality distress; religious and familial homonegativity; sense of self; and outness. Ordinal logistic regressions revealed that Christian LGB respondents possessed significantly more IH than nonreligious respondents. Furthermore, perceiving greater homonegativity in one's religious and familial environments predicted higher levels of distress and IH among Christians specifically. Despite having apostatized, former Christians still reported greater religion-sexuality distress than nonreligious individuals, suggesting that the psychological effects of homonegative religious environments are potentially enduring. Across all respondents, IH was also greater for males, those who were less "out," and those who possessed a weaker sense of self. Findings generally support the premise that religious homonegativity places LGB Christians at additional psychological risk, with particular regard to IH and religion-sexuality identity conflict, and that both personal and interpersonal characteristics may exacerbate this risk.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)530-544
    Number of pages15
    JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014

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