Stressors Based on Sexual Orientation and Mental Health Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals in China: Minority Stress and Perceived Pressure to Get Married

Abstract

Chinese Confucian filial piety posits that getting married and having children to maintain family bloodlines is a fundamental duty of children to their parents. Chinese lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals experience added stresses because of the pressure to get married from parents, social environments, and themselves. However, no research thus far has examined the influence of this added stressor, called “pressure to get married,” on the mental health of LGB individuals in China. This study examined the influence of sexual orientation-based stresses (i.e., LGB minority stress and perceived pressure to get married) on mental health among 543 Chinese single LGB individuals (259 gay men, 161 lesbians, 68 bisexual men, and 55 bisexual women). We developed a new measure of stress based on perceived pressure to get married and found three factors based on pressure sources: social pressure, parental pressure, and internalized pressure. Both minority stress and perceived pressure to get married were associated with worse mental health. Minority stress and perceived external pressure (i.e., perceived social and parental pressure) were found to be components of a second-order latent variable, called sexual orientation-based stress, which was associated with worse mental health. Sexual orientation-based stress is associated with mental health through coping/emotion and cognitive, but not social, processes. The results indicate that the pressure to get married experienced by Chinese LGB individuals need to be examined further. The findings indicated that the perceived pressure to get married was another significant stressor based on sexual orientation and minority stress, and was associated with mental health among Chinese LGB individuals.

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Acknowledgements

Dr. Hart was supported by a Chair in Gay and Bisexual Men’s Health from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network. The authors thank Lingqian Li for translating the Chinese version of the Pressure to Get Married Scale to English. The authors also thank Samer Lazkani for his editing on the revision.

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Correspondence to Lijun Zheng.

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Zheng, L., Hart, T.A., Noor, S.W. et al. Stressors Based on Sexual Orientation and Mental Health Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals in China: Minority Stress and Perceived Pressure to Get Married. Arch Sex Behav 49, 1769–1782 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01693-z

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Keywords

  • Mental health
  • Perceived pressure to get married
  • Internalized homophobia
  • Chinese LGBs
  • Filial piety
  • Sexual orientation