Homophobia and the Health Psychology of Lesbians

  • Katherine A. O’Hanlan
Part of the The Plenum Series in Culture and Health book series (PSCH)


American society in the last 30 years has seen an entirely new segment of society coalesce. Sensationalizing media attention has capitalized on Americans’ unfamiliarity with gay men and lesbians. The focus on the fringes of homosexual culture has made gay men and lesbians the brunt of multiple levels of prejudice, with negative assumptions about their morality, employability, and integrity. Similar accusations were made against African-Americans, Jews, and other ethnic groups in previous times. Gay men and lesbians have subsequently maintained a hidden subculture, which only recently has become more open and currently weaves through all segments of society. Surveys of the homosexual community suggest that health care providers lack knowledge of the issues salient in the lives of gay men and lesbians and that these health care providers have inadvertently or purposely alienated their patients. The gay and lesbian community needs medical care that recognizes its unique medical demographic profile and that is provided with sensitivity and respect. In this review of lesbian health literature, the medical and psychological effects of heterosexist prejudice from family, educational, religious, and governmental organizations will be discussed, and steps to ameliorate them will be suggested. With greater understanding of who lesbians are and of the psychological effects of societal disdain for them, providers can maintain the highest standard of medical care for all of their patients, including lesbians.


Sexual Orientation Heterosexual Woman Hate Crime Lesbian Woman Youth Suicide 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine A. O’Hanlan
    • 1
  1. 1.Gynecologic Cancer SectionStanford University School of MedicineStanford

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