Roman Catholic gay priests: Internalized homophobia, sexual identity, and psychological well-being

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Using convenience sampling, a national sample of 156 actively ministering or retired Roman Catholic priests was obtained. One hundred and five (105) of these priests identified as gay/homosexual (67.3 %), 42 identified as heterosexual (26.9 %), and 9 identified as bisexual (5.8 %). Due to the small number of bisexual participants, the bisexual priests’ responses were excluded, and the whole sample was divided into a gay/homosexual group and a heterosexual comparison group. This confidential study yielded a response rate of 78 %. The priests were mailed self-report survey instruments, including the Scales of Psychological Well-Being, the Internalized Homonegativity Inventory, the Gay Identity Questionnaire, the Depression-Happiness Scale, and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale, as well as a demographics questionnaire. Results demonstrated that internalized homophobia was negatively correlated with psychological well-being and associated with depression. Internalized homophobia was also found to be related to less integration of sexual identity. There was no significant difference between the gay/homosexual and the heterosexual group in their psychological well-being and depression scores, and both groups emerged as high scorers on the measures of psychological well-being and depression-happiness (high scores on this bipolar instrument indicate happiness). Implications and limitations of the study are reviewed and discussed.