We used logistic regression on nationally representative data (General Social Survey, N = 10,668 and N = 6680) to examine how sexual minority status related to happiness. We considered two central dimensions of sexual minority status-sexual behavior and sexual identity. We distinguished between same-sex, both-sex, and different-sex-oriented participants. Because individuals transition between sexual behavior categories over the life course (e.g., from both-sex partners to only same-sex partners) and changes in sexual minority status have theoretical associations with well-being, we also tested the associations of transitions with happiness. Results showed that identifying as bisexual, gay, or lesbian, having both male and female partners since age 18, or transitioning to only different-sex partners was negatively related to happiness. Those with only same-sex partners since age 18 or in the past 5 years had similar levels of happiness as those with only different-sex partners since age 18. Additional tests showed that the majority of these happiness differences became non-significant when economic and social resources were included, indicating that the lower happiness was a product of structural and societal forces. Our findings clearly and robustly underscored the importance of taking a multi-faceted approach to understanding sexuality and well-being, demonstrating that not all sexual minority groups experience disadvantaged happiness. Our study calls for more attention to positive aspects of well-being such as happiness in examinations of sexual minorities and suggests that positive psychology and other happiness subfields should consider the role of sexual minority status in shaping happiness.
Happiness, Health, Life course, Minority stress, Sexual orientation, Socioeconomic status, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Female, Happiness, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Sexual Behavior, Sexual and Gender Minorities, Young Adult