LGBT guilds as buffers against sexual minority stress
Minority stress theory posits that social connection to LGBT-affirming communities may buffer against the negative health effects of anti-LGBT stigma. Yet, few scholars have extended this scope of research to video games—a $90 billion industry touching nearly three-fourths of all U.S. households. This study is among the first to investigate how membership in a virtual LGBT-affirming community within online video games (LGBT guilds) impacts minority stress levels and mental health. Utilizing cross-sectional data from a survey of adult LGBT gamers who play Final Fantasy XIV Online (N = 265), this study tested an adapted version of the minority stress model and examined direct and indirect effects of LGBT guild participation and sense of belonging on minority stress, as well as effects on mental and physical health. The final models tested fit the data well. Furthermore, results from structural equation modeling partially supported current literature linking belonging to decreased minority stress, but current findings suggest that the effects of belonging on minority health remain largely indirect. Additional findings also emphasize the significant effects of participation on minority stress, particularly discrimination, justifying future studies on this unique LGBT population.