Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

David H. Whitcomb


Much of the current literature about sexual minorities examines the experiences of lesbian- and gay-identified individuals. The current study was designed to facilitate increased understanding of sexuality for people who have multi-gendered attractions and sexual identities (e.g., bisexual, queer). This work extends beyond discrete binary categories and labels for sexual orientation, such as straight, gay, and lesbian. In the current examination of this expanded category, labeled as multisexual, it becomes important to shift not only the conceptualization of sexual orientation but also the nature of minority stress, from examining homophobia and heterosexism, to biphobia and monosexism. Under circumstances when an individual may have very little control over the stressor, such as prejudicial attitudes and discrimination, there is research to suggest that emotion-focused coping (specifically forgiveness) mitigates harmful mental health outcomes. The current study sought to address gaps in the current literature on LGB identities, including clearly assessing sexual identity, increased specificity in defining the population of study, and examining multidimensional relationships between variables (Diamond, 2003a). This study sought to estimate the fit of self-report data to a model of minority stress adapted from Meyer (2003), examining the interplay of minority stress, coping, and consequent health outcomes of people who are identify between and beyond the heterosexual and homosexual. Additionally, the study examined the ability of forgiveness and other styles of coping, including individual and LGBTQ community social support, to mitigate the expected negative association between minority stress and mental health and well-being. Participants (N = 207) identified with labels that embrace a more fluid concept of emotional, romantic, or sexual relationships (e.g., bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, PoMoSexual, questioning, unlabeled) and provided self-report data online. While the observed data did not provide a strong statistical fit with the hypothesized model of minority stress (Meyer, 2003), supplementary multiple regression analyses suggested a unique contribution of forgiveness in mitigating the detrimental relationship between oppression-related stress and mental health and well-being. The results of this study have significant implications for the intentional coping strategies of multisexual people and for mental health counselors providing such interventions. Implications for theory, research, and clinical practice are discussed.