Purpose: Little research on internalized homophobia (IHP) and mental health among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals has been done in South Korea, a context in which LGB populations widely experience societal stigma. This study examined the association between IHP and depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation among Korean LGB adults and investigated whether the association differed by participants' age. Methods: Cross-sectional data from the "Rainbow Connection Project I - Korean Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual Adults' Health Study" were used for this study (N = 2178). Descriptive analyses were conducted to explore the distribution of IHP, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation across all covariates. Multivariate analyses were also used to investigate the overall and age-stratified associations between IHP and depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation. Results: The prevalence of high IHP was greater among older LGB adults, whereas the prevalence of depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation was higher among younger LGB adults. LGB individuals with high IHP levels had significantly greater risk of depressive symptoms than those with low IHP levels. In the age-stratified analyses, the associations between IHP and depressive symptoms were statistically significant only among older LGB adults with high IHP levels. Regarding suicidal ideation, the overall association was statistically significant in the full sample, but not in the age-stratified analyses. Conclusion: These findings suggest that mental health interventions are needed for LGB adults who have high IHP levels, especially among older generations. Furthermore, greater efforts are needed to enact protective legislation for sexual minority individuals in South Korea.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was partially financially supported by the Korean Gay Men’s Human Rights Group Chingusai and the Beautiful Foundation, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2018S1A5B6075594), and Korea University Grant (K1711251).
© Copyright 2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
- South Korea
- depressive symptoms
- internalized homophobia
- sexual minority
- suicidal ideation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health