Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

An Exploratory Model of Proximal Minority Stress and the Work-Life Interface for Men in Same-Sex, Dual-Earner Relationships

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

An Exploratory Model of Proximal Minority Stress and the Work-Life Interface for Men in Same-Sex, Dual-Earner Relationships

Article excerpt

Evans, Carney, and Wilkinson (2013) asserted that more research is needed to understand the work-life interface for men, a paradigm that maintains that the world of work cannot be extracted from one's family, social, and cultural life contexts (Greenhaus & Powell, 2012; Kossek & Ollier-Malaterre, 2013). However, there is even less scholarship regarding the work-life interface for sexual minority men (e.g., gay, bisexual, queer), particularly those in dual-earner relationships (Goldberg & Smith, 2013; Perrone, 2005). Societal sanctions against same-sex relationships are more extreme for men than for women, and sexual minority men are shaped by socialization processes that prohibit them against forming emotionally intimate relationships with other men (Mohr & Fassinger, 2006). In addition, sexual minority men are likely to have stigma-related concerns across their career development trajectory (Prince, 2013; Trau & Hartel, 2007), potentially rendering them with more issues when navigating aspects of romantic relationships and work. Incorporating the work-life interface within the field of counseling to be more inclusive of sexual minority men may provide a dynamic and pluralistic perspective that could refine affirmative counseling practices (Schultheiss, 2006) and further enhance frameworks and paradigms for counseling, assessment, and future research.

Although same-sex couples are speculated to exhibit more egalitarian divisions between work and home life, institutional factors such as state laws banning same-sex marriages or civil unions, and laws regarding inheritance, taxes, or partner benefits, constrain same-sex couples differently than heterosexual couples in the United States (Patterson, 2007). Same-sex couples experience unique contextual challenges, such as stigma, oppression, and social invisibility (Fassinger, 2000; O'Ryan & McFarland, 2010). Given the sociocultural contexts that pervade the lives of same-sex couples, researchers need to expand the work-life interface to include the experience of prejudice and discrimination, as well as the stress associated from these experiences (Marks, 2006).

In particular, given the unpredictable nature of encountering discrimination, homophobic prejudice, and harassment in work and community environments (Herek, 2007; Ragins, Singh, & Cornwell, 2007), sexual minority individuals are susceptible to experiencing proximal minority stressors (Meyer, 1995). Proximal minority stressors are inclusive of both the expectation of stigma and internalized homophobia, and these are considered intrapersonal experiences and meanings constructed by the repeated exposure to stigma, discrimination, and homophobia (Meyer, 2003). As a result of encountering stigma, sexual minority persons may experience anxiety and stress, while developing a heightened state of vigilance that facilitates the expectation of future stigma-related experiences (i.e., expectation of stigma). Homophobia is also pervasive and has the propensity to become internalized by sexual minority persons. Specifically, internalized homophobia leads to the development of self-hatred and denigration among those who identify as having same-sex attractions (Newcomb & Mustanski, 2010) and is associated with difficulties in both sexual identity formation and the coming-out process (Reynolds & Hanjorgiris, 2000).

Conceptualizing an Exploratory Model of Proximal Minority Stress Within the Work-Life Interface for Men in Same-Sex, Dual-Earner Romantic Relationships

Proximal minority stressors have been linked with psychological distress and mental health concerns (Meyer, 2003), sexual risk behaviors and substance use (Kashubeck-West & Szymanski, 2008), negative body image (Kimmel & Mahalik, 2005), relationship quality (Frost & Meyer, 2009), and job satisfaction (Velez, Moradi, & Brewster, 2013). Therefore, proximal minority stressors could plausibly influence aspects of the work-life interface for sexual minority men in dual-earner relationships; however, no research has yet explored the tenability of such associations. …

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