This study examines important distinctions in sexual orientation identities by exploring the relationships among sexual identity, activism, and collective self-esteem. Past research has revealed that individuals who label themselves as belonging to certain minority sexual identities may experience different types of outcomes; for instance, bisexual individuals have been shown to experience more psychological hardships (Brewster & Moradi, 2010; Browne & Lim, 2010), whereas Queer individuals’ politicization may buffer against some of these negative experiences and increase their psychological well-being (Galinsky et al., 2013; Klar and Kasser, 2009; Riggs, 2010). We explored whether these important differences could be attributed to a person’s choice of a sexual identity description. An online survey was distributed to Facebook groups affiliated with 33 universities across Canada, which yielded responses from 265 participants. Four distinct sexual identity categories were created and compared in two multiple regression models that controlled for measures of personal and social identity. In the first model, we tested group differences in collective self-esteem and, in the second model, we assessed group differences in political activism. As predicted, collective self-esteem was significantly lower for those who identified as bisexual, and activism was most likely among those who identified as Queer. Our research highlights the need for caution when either measuring or studying aspects of sexual orientation, since these identity categories reflect different personal and political points of reference.


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pp. 116-122
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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