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For lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people, realizing their sexual orientation or gender identity and sharing that information with family and friends is often a gradual process that can unfold over a series of years. This section looks at the process of coming out—when and how it happens, how difficult it is, and what impact it has on relationships. This section also explores the interactions LGBT adults have outside of their circles of family and close friends—in their communities and workplaces. Some seek out neighborhoods that are predominantly LGBT, but most do not. A majority of employed LGBT adults say their workplaces are accepting of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.


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And I don't know if I can take their rejection right now. For example, some individuals straddled two different depending on situations or interactions with particular individuals, similar to the model described by Harry Figure 2 illustrates our process of disclosure and how young men may move from one category to another with regard to what information or parts of their lives they decided to share with family members.

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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Several young men did not easily fit into a category due to individual circumstances. Young men who have sex with men YMSM face myriad challenges when deciding to disclose their sexual orientation to family members. People that have really looked out for me, who allow me to be there for them and helped me through some really hard times in my life, a lot of transition in growing up.

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And the challenge of concealing it from my family, that's been not so much a challenge, but one can speculate that it has cost me my family, cost me my family even, my relationship with them because I want to keep this away from them but this is such a huge part of me that I've decided to keep my whole self away from them. I can talk to [my mother] about private stuff. These analyses assisted in understanding how respondents created and maintained their family structures. The following sections present descriptions of the young men who fit into each of thesedescribing their concerns and anxieties about disclosing this part of their identity to their closest family members.

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In this exercise, respondents were asked to define their family in their own terms, and to include those whom he considered to be family based on his definition of the term. Well I know for sure my mom would, like, be devastated.

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That's the only reason why I wouldn't tell them because I know things right now are going really well…But then again I would really want them to know, but then knowing their beliefs and how they are, I don't think they would be very, accepting of that. A part of you.

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Actual names were not included in transcripts, and only pseudonyms appear in this article. Members of the research team reviewed an initial sample of interviews to identify key themes, which formed the basis of project codebooks.

And the same way with my grandmother, like, I can go to her for anything, and talk to her and tell her anything. For some, the anxiety and anticipation they felt about the consequences of disclosure resulted in the decision to hide their same-sex attraction:.

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Much of the research is focused on disclosure of same-sex attraction as a crucial milestone and key component of identity formation Savin-Williams, For many young people, the fear and anxiety around disclosure le to the decision to hide or conceal their sexual orientation from their families.

As the data were collected, they were immediately analyzed for patterns and themes, with the primary objective of discovering theory that is implicit in the data. While respondents were mostly in agreement concerning what a family should provide with regard to support, the actual composition of families varied a great deal. Key to this decision is consideration of how disclosure may influence the support they receive from family.

They will forever be your family.


There was relatively even distribution in the Selective disclosure category, with White in the majority, and in the Conceal and Vague disclosurethe majority were African American or Filipino. Ever more present in this scholarship is the examination of the coming out process for these youth and their families. Respondents were also asked to graphically depict how close they felt to each self-identified member by placing the individual on a diagram Figure 1. Initially codes focusing on a range of topics were identified and defined based on the key constructs included in the discussion guides.

Blood and bonding. Many of these models present a linear process by which an individual goes from a hidden same-sex attraction to questioning and comparing heterosexual versus homosexual identities, to sexual experimentation homosexual and heterosexualto self identification as homosexual, to disclosure, and finally, to an integrated or healthy homosexual identity Cass, This indicates that even after disclosure, where many theorists have asserted the sexual identity formation process is complete, stages of disclosure remain and an individual may revert to an earlier stage of more selective disclosure.

In particular, we were interested in examining the interplay between disclosure and perceived levels of family support. Family structure was determined for respondents through the family circle exercise. The first phase of analysis focused on identifying how respondents defined their families and what kinds of support or assistance respondents believed a family was supposed to provide.

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Learn More. Based on qualitative interviews from 43 ethnically diverse young men who have sex with men YMSMthis paper describes the myriad ways they decide how, what and to whom to disclose their sexual identity and how relationships are negotiated after disclosure in order to access and maintain family support. After the initial coding phase, the open coding process began which allowed for constructs of interest to be identified and labeled.

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The codebook was modified as needed during the initial stages of coding. One young man who chose not to discuss his boyfriend with his family felt that this act resulted in a loss of connection within the relationship:. All qualitative interviews were audio-recorded, professionally transcribed and cleaned to ensure accuracy.

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While this is an interesting finding and ethnic and cultural identity may experience an integral role in determining when and to whom a young man may disclose his sexual orientation, an almost equal proportion of both of these ethnic identity groups were also included in the Full Disclosure category.

QSR-N6, software developed for qualitative data analysis, was used to analyze the data, in this case, the relationship between disclosure of sexual orientation and maintenance of family support. This diagram was divided into tiers of 1 to 4, representing, in descending order, different levels of first closeness to the respondent. From these narratives, an evolving process of disclosure strategies were identified that reflect the ideas these young men described around disclosing or concealing their sexualities from their families.

Additionally, relationships after disclosure included negotiations between the expression gay their sexual orientation and the maintenance of family support. This open coding process included refining the codes based on the descriptions of experiences by respondents. Finally, respondents were asked how they defined their sexual identity and whether or not and to what extent they had disclosed this identity to family members or withs in their support networks.

At times, as in the following example, family members went as far as to mention to the respondents that they would not be accepting of them disclosing their sexual identity, thereby further complicating the decision to disclose:. Some young men described very member relationships with family members where they were able to discuss most topics openly, except their sexuality.

Narratives family analyzed within the context of their level of disclosure and the individual family structures to explore their decision-making process as it specifically related to their experiences with and perceptions of family support. Everything else would be the truth. While these were developed to describe some of the processes of disclosing sexual identity, several amalgamations of disclosure occurred within the .

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Some of these young men also expressed disappointment and anxiety about how concealing their identity had an impact on their relationship with their family. For respondents who described their families as a mixture of biological and non-biological relationships, the message seemed to be that family was comprised of those who have a deep connection with the respondent and have demonstrated that they understand and love him unconditionally, regardless of genetics or biological bonds:.

Well, the immediate family is obvious. Differences in coding were discussed and resolved by the team.

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It is a time when young people begin to explore new roles and relationships; establish more intimate attachments and sexual relationships with both male and female peers; and begin to define their sexual identity, both privately and publicly Arnett, This current study seeks to gain a more in-depth understanding of one layer of the complex process of coming out to family members--how young men perceive that their disclosure influences their relationships and support from key family members.

And then my cousins are still my family.

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In the figure, the arrows illustrate the fluidity of the and how YMSM in our sample often chose to move in between with regard to what information they shared in order to maintain familial support. And then my really close friends, I probably treat them better than my immediate family right now, and, like, they influence me SO much more because they relate to me, they understand me.

Specific to this current study, respondents were asked several sets of questions related to sexual identity, family structure and family support. The model of disclosure presented here was informed by the fluidity of disclosure represented within this sample.

These individuals often cited fears of losing support, being rejected, or not wanting to make family members feel uncomfortable or offended.

Facts are more important than ever.

Of those who consented, 40 completed the series of two semi-structured qualitative interviews, and 3 completed only one of gay members. For this current study, codes related to family structure, support, sexual identification and the extent to which an individual respondent had disclosed his sexual orientation were included.

In general, their responses yielded two primary of family structure: those that included only individuals fitting the definition of a biological family and those that were created from the integration of friends or others such as service providers or surrogate families along with biological family members. For those describing a family as primarily biological, the rationale appeared to be that the biological bond between family members meant that those individuals would be with you forever:.

Some of the researchers in this field have asserted that a of the most widely cited models do not adequately address the complexities and variations of the development of a non-heterosexual identity Diamond, ; Eliason, ; Mosher, Rather, their research indicates that the process of sexual identity development is not necessarily linear, nor is a homosexual identity inevitable Savin-Williams, Additionally, researchers and counselors alike have begun to assert that identity formation is a continual and interactive process Horowitz and Newcomb, One particular complexity for youth with a same-sex orientation is maintaining familial support after disclosing to family members.

The majority of the respondents, regardless of ethnic identity, were placed in the Full Disclosure category. Central to this paper is the examination of the relationship and interactions between family structure, perceived social support and disclosure of sexual orientation or attractions among this ethnically diverse sample of YMSM. Interviews were conducted in project offices in a large Western US city as well as at cafes and restaurants that were more convenient for the participant, and where privacy could be maintained.

For adolescents in general, late adolescence and early adulthood is developmentally a period during which young people experiment with behaviors that often bring increased risk e. For example, withs were asked to define their families in their own words--allowing them to include both biological and non-biological experience whom they identified as members of their families. They described a careful decision-making family that was largely based on how they perceived disclosure would impact first support from family members such as financial e.

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With each of the four disclosure developed, we began to look for patterns within each ethnic cohort. Several young men discussed the various ways they dealt with the struggle of maintaining key family relationships and still remaining true to themselves. In general, respondents described a family as a supportive group of people, those who provide love and support, and persons who will always be there:.

Maybe that's what happened. To identify and recruit eligible participants, the research team approached young men who appeared to be in the appropriate age range for the study and of one of the targeted ethnic populations from social venues e.

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Regardless of who was included in the circles, respondents tended to agree that to be included in the circle meant that a certain level of support was expected. Respondents were placed in a particular category based on whether or not they had chosen to disclose their sexual identity and to whom they had disclosed to on their family circle.

These are the people that have really showed me I can be a lot more than what I thought. In addition, respondents were asked to describe how family members and others e.

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To identify how was the process of discovery of homosexual orientation in lesbians and gays..


For some, learning that a family member is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning LGBTQ can be difficult.


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