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social sciences

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Coming Out  
page: 1  2  3  

Research has shown that the majority of gay and lesbian youth choose to disclose their sexual orientation to their mothers first, as opposed to their fathers or to both parents simultaneously. They also often find different ways of dealing with their mothers and fathers, tending to use more indirect disclosure styles with fathers than with mothers. Psychologists theorize that this effect is heavily influenced by differences in maternal-paternal parental closeness, but further research is necessary to corroborate this theory.

Questioning and gender nonconforming youth, many of whom later identify as homosexual, often report less satisfiction with their social relationships than other youth. They may come to feel that maintaining long-lasting friendships with same-sex heterosexual peers, while ignoring or lying about their sexuality, demeans the authenticity of friendship itself. Or a closeted homosexual youth may feel that the illusion of heterosexuality is of paramount importance. Even in adulthood, homosexuals have been found to be more likely to opt out of reporting a hate crime if it was motivated by their sexual orientation, presumably to avoid making their personal lives public business.

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Coming out is generally thought of as an important passage to maturity in the glbtq community, an acknowledgment of one's sexuality and a necessary prerequisite to accepting one's place in the community. In practice, however, coming out is not a single life event, but a gradual and lifelong process through which homosexuals integrate their personal identities with their public personae.

Most gay people are "out" to some of their family members, friends, and acquaintances, but usually not to all of them. Even after accepting one's homosexuality (and thus coming out to oneself), the decision to come out to others remains a vital question that usually has to be answered on an individual basis.

Dustin Tamashiro

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social sciences >> Overview:  Adolescence

The ordinary sexual uncertainty and confusion confronted by all adolescents is compounded in glbtq adolescents by fears of being stigmatized and often by internalized homophobia.

social sciences >> Overview:  African Americans

Glbtq African Americans frequently experience racism in predominantly white glbtq communities and homophobia in heterosexual black society, but the multiple oppressions faced by black glbtq people are now being recognized.

social sciences >> Overview:  Asian/Pacific Islander Americans

Relatively little beyond the anecdotal is known of the unique problems and attitudes of glbtq Asia/Pacific Islander Americans since no comprehensive, representative studies of them have been undertaken.

literature >> Overview:  Coming Out Stories

The coming out experience is so important to gay men and lesbians that it is a primary focus of much of their literature.

social sciences >> Overview:  Computers, the Internet, and New Media

Since the advent of the Internet, lesbians, gay men, and sexual and gender nonconformists of all kinds have been able to use a variety of computer-mediated communications to meet and network both on- and offline.

social sciences >> Overview:  Counseling

In recent years there has been a push for glbtq-sensitive counselor training and glbtq-affirmative counseling, which, although occurring slowly and encountering resistance, marks a significant move in a positive direction.

social sciences >> Overview:  Family Therapy

Glbtq family therapy is a relatively new field that merges gay-affirmative therapy with family systems theory; its goal is to help glbtq people create and maintain healthy families.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gay Rights Movement, U. S.

The U.S. gay rights movement has made significant progress toward achieving equality for glbtq Americans, and in the process has become more inclusive and diverse, but much remains to be done.

social sciences >> Overview:  Hate Crimes

Hate Crimes are crimes towards persons or groups motivated by the victim's race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

social sciences >> Overview:  Latina/Latino Americans

Latina/o glbtq communities in the U.S. pursue multiple visions, diverse politics, and a variety of struggles for identity and liberation; their efforts have helped shape the meaning of what it means to be queer and Latina and Latino in the U.S. and transnationally.

social sciences >> Overview:  Marches on Washington

Marches on Washington in support of the rights of glbtq people have been a significant part of the modern movement for equality.

social sciences >> Overview:  Mixed-Orientation Marriages

Mixed-orientation marriages--those in which one partner is straight and the other is gay or lesbian--often end in divorce, but such an ending is not inevitable.

social sciences >> Overview:  Outing

First used by homophobes and then by glbtq activists, outing is the public revelation of a person's sexuality without the consent of that person.

social sciences >> Overview:  Passing

Generally defined as seeking or allowing oneself to be identified with a race, class, or other social group to which one does not genuinely belong, passing is a complex and layered issue in queer culture.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sociology

As an academic field, sociology has only recently begun to examine sexuality, and members of the profession are divided over glbtq concerns.

social sciences >> Overview:  Stigma

Stigmas--physical or personal attributes and behaviors that discredit the individuals and groups who possess them--affect all glbtq people.

social sciences >> Bingham, Mark

Mark Bingham, San Francisco businessman and rugby enthusiast, is believed to have helped avert the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 into a populated landmark on September 11, 2001.

social sciences >> Bono, Chaz

The child of a famous show business couple, Chaz Bono has had to cope with family resistance and intense public scrutiny as he came out, first as a lesbian, then as a transgender man.

social sciences >> Gingrich-Jones, Candace

Candace Gingrich-Jones, the half-sister of former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, serves as a spokesperson and Senior Youth Outreach Manager for the Human Rights Campaign.

social sciences >> Hooker, Evelyn

American psychologist Evelyn Hooker's pioneering studies on male homosexuality in the 1950s and 1960s challenged the "sickness" model of homosexuality then prevalent.

social sciences >> Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

The largest glbtq political organization in the United States, the Human Rights Campaign has emerged as the leading national organization representing glbtq concerns.

social sciences >> Robinson, Svend

Svend Robinson, the first openly gay Canadian Member of Parliament, has championed human rights throughout his long political career.

social sciences >> Stonewall Riots

The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.


Achilles, Nancy. "The Development of the Homosexual Bar as an Institution." Social Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Studies. P. M. Nardi and B. E. Schneider, eds. London: Routledge, 1998. 175-82.

Carver, Priscilla R., Susan K. Egan, and David G. Perry. "Children Who Question Their Heterosexuality." Developmental Psychology 40 (2004): 43-53.

Cass, Vivienne. "Homosexual Identity Formation: A Theoretical Model." Journal of Homosexuality 4 (1979): 219-35.

Coleman, Eli. "Developmental Stages of the Coming Out Process." Journal of Homosexuality 7 (1981): 31-43.

D'Augelli, Anthony R. "Gay Men in College: Identity Processes and Adaptations." Journal of College Student Development 32 (1991): 140-46.

Dank, Barry M. "Coming Out in the Gay World." Social Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Studies. P. M. Nardi and B. E. Schneider, eds. London: Routledge, 1998. 175-82.

Darsey, James. "Coming Out." Gay Histories and Cultures. George E. Haggerty, ed. New York: Garland, 2000. 209-13.

Diamond, Lisa M. "Was It a Phase? Young Women's Relinquishment of Lesbian/Bisexual Identities over a 5-Year Period." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84 (2003): 352-64.

Dube, Eric M., and Ritch C. Savin-Williams. "Sexual Identity Development among Ethnic Sexual-Minority Male Youths." Developmental Psychology 35 (1999): 1389-98.

Egan, Susan K., and David G. Perry. "Gender Identity: A Multidimensional Analysis with Implications for Psychosocial Adjustment." Developmental Psychology 37 (2001): 451-63.

Epstein, Steven. "Gay and Lesbian Movements in the United States: Dilemmas of Identity, Diversity, and Political Strategy." The Global Emergence of Gay and Lesbian Politics: National Imprints of a Worldwide Movement. B. D. Adam, J. W. Duyvendak, and A. Krouwel, eds. Philadelphia, Penn.: Temple University Press, 1998.

Green, Richard. The "Sissy Boy Syndrome" and the Development of Homosexuality. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1987.

Herek, Gregory M., J. Roy Gillis, and Jeanine C. Cogan. "Psychological Sequelae of Hate-Crime Vicitimization Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults." Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 67 (2000): 945-51.

Hooker, Evelyn. "Male Homosexuals and Their Worlds." Sexual Inversion: The Multiple Roots of Homosexuality. Judd Marmor, ed. New York: Basic Books, 1965. 83-107.

Human Rights Watch. Hatred in the Hallways: Violence and Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students in U. S. Schools. Washington, D. C.: Human Rights Watch, 2001.

Laumann, Edward O., John H. Gagnon, Robert T. Michael, and Stuart Michaels. The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Leznoff, Maurice, and William A. Westley. "The Homosexual Community." Social Perspectives in Lesbian and Gay Studies. P. M. Nardi and B. E. Schneider, eds. London: Routledge, 1998. 5-11.

Miller, R. Jeff, and Susan D. Boon. "Trust and Disclosure of Sexual Orientation in Gay Males' Mother-Son Relationships." Journal of Homosexuality 38 (2000): 41-63.

Ryan, Caitlin. "Counseling Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youths." Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identities and Youth: Psychological Perspectives. A. R. D'Augelli and C. J. Patterson, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. 224-50.

Savin-Williams, Ritch C. "The Disclosure to Families of Same-sex Attractions by Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youths." Journal of Research on Adolescence 8 (1998): 49-68.

_____. Gay and Lesbian Youth: Expressions of Identity. Washington, D. C.: Hemisphere Publication Services, 1990.

_____, and Geoffrey L. Ream. "Sex Variations in Disclosure to Parents of Same-sex Attractions." Journal of Family Psychology 17 (2003): 429-38.

Whisman, Vera. "Coming Out." Lesbian Histories and Cultures. Bonnie Zimmerman, ed. New York: Garland, 2000. 187-88.

Zera, Deborah. "Coming of Age in a Heterosexist World: The Development of Gay and Lesbian Adolescents." Adolescence 27(1992): 849-54.


    Citation Information
    Author: Tamashiro, Dustin  
    Entry Title: Coming Out  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated November 3, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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