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Coming Out: Conceptualising a Reflexive Model of Disclosure and Non-disclosure

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Sexual Minorities and Mental Health


‘Coming out’ has been described as the process through which individuals come to recognise their non-heterosexual or alternate gender identities and subsequently disclose or share those identities with others through, “an unambiguous and public declaration”(Jagose, 1996). It represents an internal—almost existential—acceptance of self that requires the individual to redefine the ‘self’ and, for others, their relationship to that ‘self’ (Hill, 2009; Troiden, 1989). It has also been described as a process of identity-centred development, emphasising self-recognition and an internal sense of identity rather one based specifically on sexual acts (Dubé, 2000). Coming out is not, as we will see, “a static action, but a range of various motivations, goals, and strategies that people wrap up in a single term, a catch-all for this complex identity management system” (Orne, 2011). In this chapter we explore the intricacies of disclosure and its relationship to mental health and well-being. We propose a model to better reflect the varied relevance of coming out for some today. In line with other chapters in the book, we focus primarily upon lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) populations but acknowledge that there are commonalities in experience for those who are trans, queer, intersex or asexual.

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Correspondence to Ian Rivers .

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Simpson, J.K., Rivers, I. (2023). Coming Out: Conceptualising a Reflexive Model of Disclosure and Non-disclosure. In: Semlyen, J., Rohleder, P. (eds) Sexual Minorities and Mental Health. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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