The Coming Out Experience of Individuals Who Identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender

The Coming Out Experience of Individuals Who Identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender

Jonathan Marmo (Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training, USA) and Nava R. Silton (Marymount Manhattan College, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2404-5.ch008
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Abstract

This literature review will explore the relationships of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and their fears of how their relationships will be affected after coming out of the closet. This chapter will review the stages in Erik Erikson's Psychosocial Stages of Development that most pertain to the coming out years; stages associated with the fourteen to seventeen year age range. Erikson's Stage 5 (Identity versus Role Confusion) and Stage 6 (Intimacy versus Isolation) are most relevant to the aforementioned developmental time frame. This review will illuminate how each individual's life is unique and how he or she can be part of different societies, cultures, and communities that alter his or her coming out experience. This chapter will explore a variety of factors that differ from person to person such as family support, ethnic background, peer groups, and even work environments.
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Coming Out To Family

The stakes are high when an individual comes out, but they are arguably the highest when coming out to the individuals love the most – one’s family. LGBT adolescents and adults claim that their parents are the hardest people to come out to. Most youth choose to come out to their mothers before their fathers because it is perceived that mothers are more accepting or have closer bonds with their children. In a study of 194 lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals aged twenty-one and younger, 68% of participants came out to their mothers while only 44% came out to their fathers (D’Augelli & Hershberger, 1993). However, some individuals do not come out at all. Although the United States and the rest of the world are becoming more accepting of LGBT individuals and lifestyles, there are still countries that have not reached that standard. While many individuals do come out to their parents, there are individuals who do not come out at all because of the fear that their parents will reject or abandon them. Just the notion that a person’s parents could be intolerant of his or her queer identity is enough to make someone anxious or upset whether or not he or she actually comes out (Carnelley et. al, 2011).

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