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ARTICLES ON

Coming Out

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Cass Model of Gay & Lesbian Identity Formation

Coming Out is a life-long process of exploring one’s sexual orientation and Gay / Lesbian identity and sharing it with family, friends, co-workers and the world. COMING OUT is one of the most significant developmental processes in the lives of Gay and Lesbian people. Coming Out is short for the phrase “coming out of the closet.” Coming Out means recognizing, accepting, expressing and sharing ones’ sexual orientation with oneself and others.

IDENTITY CONFUSION : Personalization of information regarding sexuality.

  • Recognizes thought / behaviors as homosexual, usually finds this unacceptable
  • Redefines meaning of behaviors
  • Seeks information on homosexuality

IDENTITY COMPARISON : Accepts possibility s/he might be homosexual.

  • Feels positive about being different, exhibits this in ways beyond orientation
  • Accepts behavior as homosexual, rejects homosexual identity
  • Accepts identity but inhibits behavior (ex: heterosexual marriage / anonymous sex)

IDENTITY TOLERANCE : Accepts probability of being homosexual, recognizes sexual / social / emotional needs of being homosexual.

  • Seeks out meeting other Gay / Lesbian people through groups, bars, etc.
  • Personal experience builds sense of community; positively and negatively

IDENTITY ACCEPTANCE : Accepts (vs. tolerates) homosexual self – image and has increased contact with Gay / Lesbian subculture and less with heterosexuals.

  • Increased anger toward anti-gay society
  • Greater self – acceptance

IDENTITY PRIDE : Immersed in Gay / Lesbian subculture, less interaction with heterosexuals. Views world divided as “gay” or “not gay”.

  • Confrontation with heterosexual establishment
  • Disclosure to family, co – workers

IDENTITY SYNTHESIS : Gay / Lesbian identity integrated with other aspects.

  • Recognizes supportive heterosexual others 
  • Sexual identity still important but not primary factor in relationships with others

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