Minority stressors and dual identities: an analysis of lesbians’ expressive writing journals.

J Lesbian Stud. 2008;12(4):501-17. doi: 10.1080/10894160802278663.

The purpose of the current study was to examine the content of the expressive writing journals of female sexual minorities. In addition, the relationship between the content of expressive writing journals and mood and perceived stress measured two months later was examined. Journal content was also examined as a function of demographic characteristics. Thirty-nine participants each wrote a total of six journal entries about significant stressful or traumatic events or recurring problems they have experienced as lesbians. Topics that participants wrote about were differentness, leading a double life, coming out, discrimination, rejection, fears of rejection and safety, self-acceptance, and same- and opposite-sex intimate experiences. Themes of feeling different, negative coming out experiences, and negative same-sex intimate experiences were associated with more psychological distress two months after the expressive writing exercise. Occupational level was associated with themes related to leading a double life and negative same-sex and coming out experiences. These results are considered in light of the unique minority stressors experienced by lesbians as well as the difficulties inherent in lesbians having ties to both lesbian and heterosexual cultures.
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Expressive writing reduces avoidance and somatic complaints in a community sample with constraints on expression.

Br J Health Psychol. 2008 Feb;13(Pt 1):53-6. doi: 10.1348/135910707X251180.

Swanbon T1, Boyce L, Greenberg MA.

This experimental study examined expressive writing (EW) in a community sample with social constraints on self-expression. Gay men (N=62) were assigned randomly to describe gay-related thoughts and feelings (EW) or to write objectively (CTRL). Self-reported symptoms and physician visits were assessed at baseline and 1- and 2-month follow-ups.

RESULTS:

Significant GroupxTime interaction for somatic symptoms indicated buffering effect of EW. EW reduced gay-related avoidance, relative to CTRL. Avoidance and symptom changes were significantly, positively associated.

CONCLUSIONS:

Consistent with inhibition theory, EW reduces chronic avoidance and buffers stress-related physical symptoms in stigmatized groups.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18230232