Lesbian Identity Management at Various Stages of the Coming Out Process: A Qualitative Study

  • Joy S. Whitman
  • Sherry Cormier
  • Cynthia J. Boyd


This qualitative study is designed to explore how women at various stages of lesbian identity development make decisions about managing their identities. Management of identity was studied in terms of how women “came out” or stayed hidden and how they made decisions both to disclose and to conceal. The Cass (1984) Stage Allocation Measure was used as a means to categorize women at various stages of lesbian identity development. Twenty-five adult women were individually interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. A journal was kept by each woman for one month. The major findings indicated that women at different stages of lesbian identity development use both disparate and similar identity-management and decision-making strategies. Underlying and connecting lesbian identity management and development was the need to maintain self-esteem and safety.

lesbian identity homosexuality 


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Copyright information

© Gay and Lesbian Medical Association 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joy S. Whitman
  • Sherry Cormier
  • Cynthia J. Boyd

There are no affiliations available

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