Gay-Specific and General Stressors Predict Gay Men’s Psychological Functioning Over Time

Antonio Petruzzella*, Brian A. Feinstein, Joanne Davila, Justin A. Lavner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Gay men experience various stressors, including gay-specific stressors such as discrimination and internalized homonegativity as well as general stressors such as occupational and financial strain. While a robust literature has examined how gay-specific stressors are associated with negative mental health outcomes among gay men, less attention has been paid to the association between general stress and gay men’s psychological functioning or to how different types of stressors may interact to affect functioning. The current study sought to address this gap by examining the unique and combined associations between gay-specific external stress (discrimination), gay-specific internal stress (rejection sensitivity, internalized homonegativity, sexual identity concealment), and general stressors (e.g., academic difficulties) and negative affect and alcohol use over time. A total of 147 self-identified gay men living in the greater New York City area participated in a baseline assessment and a 7-week diary study. Univariate and multivariate results revealed that gay-specific external stress, gay-specific internal stress, and general stress were each positively and uniquely associated with higher mean levels of and greater fluctuations in negative affect over time, and general stress was positively associated with greater fluctuations in alcohol use over time. Multiplicative analyses indicated that individuals reporting high levels of stress in multiple domains experienced particularly high mean levels of negative affect. These findings highlight the unique contribution of general stress to gay men’s functioning over time and underscore the importance of considering multiple forms of stress (i.e., gay-specific and general stress) and their interactions to better understand gay men’s psychological functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1755-1767
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Alcohol use
  • Gay men
  • Gay-specific stress
  • General stress
  • Negative affect
  • Sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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