Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 1095–1107 | Cite as

Effects of Geography on Mental Health Disparities on Sexual Minorities in New York City

  • Jacob Felson
  • Amy Adamczyk
Original Paper


Gay and lesbian individuals have higher rates of psychological distress than do heterosexual individuals. The minority stress hypothesis attributes this disparity to adversity-related stress experienced by sexual minorities. In support of this idea, research in the U.S. has generally found that mental health disparities between sexual minorities and others are narrower in places where tolerance is relatively high. However, few studies have examined disparities between sexual minorities and others in neighborhoods where sexual minorities are most highly concentrated. Likewise, little research attention has been given to disparities for people who move to more tolerant places from less tolerant states and countries. Using data from the New York City Community Health Survey, we found some evidence that disparities between sexual minorities and others were lower in areas with higher concentrations of sexual minorities. However, disparities did not vary by the tolerance level of the state of birth among those born in the U.S. and were actually lower among those born in the least tolerant nations. These results complicate the idea that there is a dose–response relationship between tolerance and psychological distress among sexual minorities.


Sexual orientation Psychological distress Mental health Neighborhoods Countries Minorities 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Jacob Felson and Amy Adamczyk declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the author(s).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyWilliam Paterson UniversityWayneUSA
  2. 2.John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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