243769 Forgiveness: Moderating The Relationship between Shame Due to Heterosexism and Being Out

Monday, October 31, 2011

Rachel Goodman , Center for Psychosocial Health Research, University of North Texas, Denton, TX
Chwee-Lye Chng, PhD , Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation, University of North Texas, Denton, TX
Jordan Willingham , Center for Psychosocial Health, University of North Texas, Denton, TX
Mark Vosvick, PhD , Psychology, University of North Texas, Denton, TX
Individuals who live openly as lesbian, gay and bisexual (lgb) may experience discrimination and be stigmatized by heterosexuals, which may cause emotional distress (Szymanski, 2008). They quickly learn that homosexuality is a powerfully shameful condition that can lead to feelings of self-hatred that impact public health issues of suicide and substance use (Herek, 1991; Chow, 2010). Recently, studies suggest that forgiveness (the process of letting go of anger and resentment) can decrease depression, anxiety and anger (Thompson, Snyder, Hoffman et al., 2005), and promote wellbeing (McCarthy, 2008). We hypothesized that forgiveness would moderate the relationship between shame due to heterosexism and being out as an openly lgb person.

Our stratified ethnically diverse convenience sample of 48 gay men, 35 lesbians, and 28 bisexuals (n = 111; 65% European-American, 10% Latino/a, 11% African-American, and 14% Other) was recruited from Dallas-Fort Worth. Participants completed the Heartland Forgiveness Scale (α=.87; Thompson et al., 2005), Shame Due to Heterosexism Scale (α=.87; Dickey-Chasins, 2001) and rated their degree of Being Out. Participants reported an annual household income of $36,581 ($0-390,000; SD=$53,055), and on average were 30.8 years old (18-73 years, SD=12.09). We used a hierarchical linear regression analysis to test our model and found Forgiveness and Being Out accounted for 39% of variance in Shame Due to Heterosexism (adj. R2=.39, F (7, 103) =9.86, p<.001). A moderation analysis following the Kenny and Baron protocol revealed that forgiveness moderated the relationship between Being Out and Shame Due to Heterosexism (adj. R2=.39, F (8, 102) =5.31, p<.05).

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the psychosocial hurdles surrounding the coming out process of the lgb community. Identify forgiveness skills as a useful strategy in coming out and in lowering the degree of shame for lgb communities. Discuss ways in which the lgb community can overcome social barriers.

Keywords: Lesbian, Gay

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present this information because I have participated in investigation and data collection.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.