Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Erin Ruel

Second Advisor

Dr. Katie Acosta

Third Advisor

Dr. Eric Wright


My dissertation addresses the intersection of queerness and mental illness utilizing Meyer’s minority stress theory, which argues that for sexual minorities, discrimination, stress, and internalized homophobia lead to worse mental health. Specifically, in my dissertation, I extend the minority stress theory by examining a population with two stigmatized identities, sexual minority status and diagnosed mental illness, and by testing if “coming out” or disclosure of stigmatized statuses mediates the modified minority stress theory indicators on two measures of well-being. I developed a broad-topic survey to collect the data. A majority of my sample (N=98) are white women who are bisexual with a mean age of 31.6 years who suffer from depression and anxiety. Using univariate, bivariate, and regression analyses, I argue that for my sample of queer individuals with diagnosed mental illness that (1) they suffer more from internalized mad-phobia than internalized homophobia (2) fewer came out or disclosed their mental illness compared to coming out as queer and (3) stress has the most significant impact on quality of life and psychological distress. Given my small sample size (N=98) it is hard to say if the minority stress model can handle two stigmatized identities. Future research needs to investigate the usage of the minority stress theory to see how coming out and internalized stigmas play a role.


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