Conlin, Susan M (2001). The ongoing "coming out" process of lesbian parents. Master of Science Dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Stout. PDF
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Cosco, Vanessa (1997). "Obviously then I’m not homosexual": Lesbian identities, discretion, and communities in Vancouver, 1945-1969. Master of Arts Dissertation, University of British Columbia. PDF
Cross, Erin G (2010). Gender (In)Query: Young Adults Leaning, Unlearning, and Relearning Gender in a Queer Majority Space. Publicly accessible Penn Dissertations. Paper 215. PhD Dissertaton, Education, University of Pennsylvania. Download Page.
Culp, Jerome M (1999). The Woody Allen Blues: “Identity Politics,” Race, and the Law. Duke Law Faculty Scholarship. Paper 283. Download Page.
Dahl, Angie L (2011). Sexual and Religious Identity Development Among Adolescent and Emerging Adult Sexual Minorities. All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Paper 995. PhD Dissertation, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. PDF Download. Download Page.
DeVita, James M (2010). Gay Male Identity in the Context of College: Implications for Development, Support, and Campus Climate. PhD Dissertation, University of Tennessee. PDF Download. Download Page.
Ensor-Estes, Zaedryn (2004). The Book of Fusion: The Lesbian Identity Integration Fictional Narrative. Undergraduate Senior Thesis, Women Studies Department, University of Washington. PDF Download.
Freedman, F. Kenneth (1998). Rainbow
Bridges: Counseling with Gays and Lesbians, Paying Particular
Attention to Cultural, Spiritual, and Psychological “Otherness”. Master of Arts Dissertation, Counseling Psychology, Prescott College. Word Download.
Fruth, Bryan Ray (2007). Media reception, sexual identity, and public space. PhD. Dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin. PDF
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Gignac, Patrick Joseph (1996). Oppressive Relationships / Related Oppressions: Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality and the Role of Gay Identity in James Baldwin's "Another Country" and Hubert Fichte's "Versuch über die Pubertät". PhD Dissertation, Department fo German, Queen's University. PDF Download.
Halpin, Sean (2008). Psychosocial well-being and gay identity development. PhD. Dissertation, University of Newcastle. Faculty of Science and Information Technology, School of Psychology. PDF
Heckert, Jamie (2005). Resisting Orientation: On the Complexities of Desire and the Limits of Identity Politics. PhD Dissertation, The University of Edinburgh. Full Text.
Hofman, Brian D (2004). "What is Next?" Gay Male Students’ Significant Experiences after Coming-Out while in College. PhD. Dissertation, The University of Toledo. PDF Download. Download Page.
Kirsztajnm Amy (2009). Childhood Sexual Abuse and the Lesbian Coming Out Process. Master's Dissertation, Smith College School for Social Work. PDF
Dis/Integrating the Gay/Queer Binary: “Reconstructed
Identity Politics” for a Performative Pedagogy. College English, 65(1):
Download (First Page). (Abstract)
Based on a part of author's dissertation: "Teaching trouble.
Performativity and composition pedagogy: Composing connections", Purdue
University, 2002, 329 pages; AAT 3104976.
Kowal, Sarah (2010). An exploration of the impact of social institutions and interpersonal connections on the sexual expression and identity of dually attracted and bisexual women. PhD. Dissertation, The Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers University. PDF Download.
Loppie, Samantha Terri (2011). Splitting the Difference: Exploring the Experiences of Identity and Community Among Biracial and Bisexual People in Nova Scotia. Master's Dissertation, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. PDF Download.
Mandel, Susannah (2003). Mask and closet ; or, "Under the Hood" : metaphors and representations of homosexuality in American superhero comics after 1985. Master's Dissertation, Dept. of Comparative Media Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. PDF Download.
Miceli, Mark J (2009). Coming-out at Catholic and non-Catholic colleges and universities. PhD. Dissertation, Education, Johnson & Wales University. PDF
Moody, Lin (1999). Speaking up and speaking out: factors that facilitate the disclosure of sexual orientation. Master of Arts Dissertation, Counselling Psychology. University of British Columbia. PDF Download. Download Page.
Morano, Laurie Ann (2007). A personal construct psychology perspective on sexual identity. Master's Dissertation, Psychology Department, University of New York at New Paltz. PDF Download. Download Page.
Nutter, Kathryn L (2008). Bi Labor: Toward a Model of Bisexual Identity Management in Workplace Environments. Master's Dissertation, Sociology, Ohio University. PDF
Peters, Wendy (2001). Queer Identities: Rupturing Identity Categories and negotiating Meanings of Queer. Master's Dissertation, University of Toronto. PDF
Robertson, Veronica L (2011). Homosexuality: the disclosure process during adolescence. Master's Dissertation, Educational Psychology, Stellenbosch University. PDF
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Saltzburg, Nicole L (2010). Developing a Model of Transmasculine Identity. PhD. Dissertation, University of Miami. PDF Download. Download Page.
Sar, Michael S (2009). Out of the Killing Fields, out of the closet: A personal narrative on finding identity as a gay Cambodian-American. Master's Dissertation, California State University, Long Beach. PDF
Sewell, Shaun Erwin (2005). Public Sexuality: A Contemporary History of Gay Images and Identity. PhD. Dissertation, The Department of Theater, Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. PDF
Syme, Gemma (2009). AC/DC : a study in art, gender and popular culture. Master's Dissertation, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. PDF Download. Download Page.
Thing, James (2009). Entre maricones machos, y gays: Globalization and the construction of sexual identities among queer Mexicanos. PhD. Dissertation, University of Southern California. PDF
Thompson, Beverly Yuen (1999). The Politics of Bisexual/Biracial Identity: A study of Bisexual and Mixed Race Women of Asian/Pacific Islander Descent. PhD. Dissertation, San Diego State University. Abstract. PDF Download.
Toft, Alex (2011). Bisexual Christian identity: a sociological exploration of the life stories of female and male bisexual Christians. PhD. Dissertation, University of Nottingham. PDF Download.
Van der Wal, Ernst (2009). The floating city: carnival, Cape Town and the queering of space. Master of Atrs Dissertation, Stellenbosch University. PDF
Abstract by author: The problem. Lesbian identity development has been examined limitedly and usually within the context of male homosexuality. Additionally, there is a paucity of research on Latina lesbian identity development. This study comparing lesbian identity development among Latina and Anglo lesbians examined the question of whether ethnic culture affects sexual identity development in a Latina lesbian population. Method. Fifty-six questionnaires compiled by Anglo lesbians were compared to 49 newly gathered questionnaires completed by Latina lesbians. The 49 new subjects also completed a newly quantified version of Klein’s Sexual Orientation Grid, the Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans, and a selected demographics questionnaire.
Results. While Latinas appear to confront and adopt a lesbian identity sooner, than do Anglo lesbians, sexual activity is equal for both Latina and Anglo lesbians. There was no significant difference in the rate of sexual abuse reported by either group. While Latinas reported knowing other homosexual family members more often, there were no cultural differences in the extent to which homosexually was discussed (rarely) or the way it was handled in the family (usually unfavorably).
Adams KV (1997). The impact of work on gay male identity among male flight attendants. PhD. Thesis, Loyola University of Chicago, DAI, Vol. 57-12B, p. 7754, 138 pages.
Abstract by author: Until recently, researchers interested in gay identity development have focused on early childhood and adolescent development. To extend research into adulthood, the interface between gay identity development and a workplace environment was chosen for study. Most studies of gays stem from a sample of convenience because the universe of the homosexual population is unknown. The flight attendants were chosen for study due to the large population of gay adult men within the profession. Men in the profession of male flight attendants are considered to be members of an underrepresented social-political group and are reported to be stigmatized. Until 1972 when men first entered the profession, flight attendant jobs were traditionally staffed by women.
The findings reported in this dissertation research project indicate that the men’s job selection of flight attendant reflected a choice to integrate their needs as gay men with work. The job of flight attendant was reported by many of the men as a vehicle for movement into a large group of gay men with some hope of finding companionship, sexual relationships, and in some cases, a long-term partner. The job of flight attendant was also sought as a means of escape from either family, a community, or a job that stifled being gay. Many of the participants reported that both before and after taking the job, the working atmosphere of a flight attendant was perceived as being safe for a gay man.
Overall, the results from this study suggest that there is a relationship between adult gay identity development and the environment within a place of work. Working as a flight attendant provided many of the participants with a nuturant context for the coming out process that facilitated their identity development as a gay men. A positive relationship was found between working as a flight attendant and acculturation into the gay community, as well as an increase in openness with others and heightened self-esteem.
The challenge for future researchers is to conduct finely detailed longitudinal studies focused on the relationship between gay identity development and career choice and social supports within the workplace. Knowledge in this area would not only extend theories of gay identity development into early, middle, and later adulthood, but would also provide needed information for practitioners working in the field.
Alquijay MA (1993). The relationship among self-esteem, acculturation and lesbian identity formation. PhD. Thesis, California School of Professional Psychology, DAI, Vol. 54-04B, p. 2269, 155 pages.
Abstract by author: This exploratory study investigated the relationship among self-esteem, acculturation, socioeconomic strata and lesbian identity formation. Ninety-two Latina Lesbians answered the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory, adult, short version (1990), Mendoza’s Cultural Lifestyle Inventory (1989), Cass’s Homosexual Stage Allocation measure, and a demographic questionnaire designed specifically for this study.
Results suggest that occupation status, level of education, and Cultural Resistance typology of acculturation are significant predictors of stage of homosexual identity development. It was found that a subject’s self-rating on Kinsey’s scale of sexuality and her intention regarding future sexual activity with a male were significantly correlated with stage of homosexual identity development. Additionally, it was found that subjects who participate in the Lesbian community, are more likely to endorse the more evolved stages of homosexual identity.
Self-esteem was not found to be a significant predictor of homosexual identity development. A subject’s income as well as how she explained her sexual orientation were not found to correlate with homosexual identity. The findings are discussed in terms of psychosocial factors. Recommendations for future research are provided. And, the implications for clinical intervention and assessment are discussed.
Anderson K (1993). Sources of coming out self-efficacy for lesbians. PhD. .D. Thesis, Michigan State University, DAI, Vol. 55-04A, p. 905, 166 pages.
Abstract by author: In their daily lives, lesbians must repeatedly make decisions about whether or not to disclose their sexual orientation to others in the face of potential rejection, discrimination, alienation, or violence (Fassinger, 1991). Although the cost of self-disclosure may be high, the benefits may include the development of a positive lesbian identity, psychological adjustment, and enhanced self-esteem and self-acceptance (Cass, 1979; Fassinger, 1991).
Much of the empirical literature on the act of coming out (Cody-Murphy, 1989; Kahn, 1991; Schneider, 1986; Wells & Kline, 1989) has explored the circumstantial and demographic variables related to this process. This exploratory study utilized self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1986) to investigate the extent to which each of the four sources of efficacy information (e.g., performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, or emotional arousal) contributed to coming out self-efficacy. Further, this study sought to establish the relevance of coming out self-efficacy by exploring its relationship to outness and lifestyle satisfaction. Relationships between these same variables and adjustment were also explored.
Participants were 134 lesbians. Each completed a survey packet which included measures of coming-out self-efficacy, the four sources of self-efficacy information, outness, adjustment, and lifestyle satisfaction. Two novel measures were developed for this study. The first, the Sources of Coming Out Self-efficacy Scale (SCOSS), was designed to assess the four sources of efficacy information in relation to coming out. The second, the Coming Out Self-efficacy Scale (COSS), was designed to assess lesbians’ confidence in their ability to come out in a variety of ways and circumstances.
Results indicated that the COSS was a highly reliable measure; the reliability of the SCOSS was marginal. Results of the regression analyses indicated that emotional arousal was the most potent predictor of coming out self-efficacy. Verbal persuasion and vicarious experience also were significant. The most theoretically salient source of self-efficacy information, performance accomplishments (Bandura, 1986), was not a significant predictor of coming out self-efficacy for this group of lesbians. Further, significant correlations were found between coming out self-efficacy and outness and life-style satisfaction. The last variable was also significantly correlated to measures of adjustment.
Barrett DC (1993). The influence of multiple identities on the health behaviors of gay men. PhD., Indiana University, DAI, Vol. 54-04A, p. 1553, 440 pages.
Abstract by author: Identity-accumulation theory hypothesizes that the internalization as identities of multiple roles that confirm valued self-attributes is health beneficial. This benefit is proposed to be due to an increase in self-worth and other psychosocial resources that are related to health, and to a decrease in the likelihood of engaging in behaviors that endanger the occupation of the related roles. This research investigates the identity-accumulation effect in a sample of gay and bisexual men who attended an STD clinic (n = 416). Statistical analyses showed that subjects who had multiple role-identities used more support-seeking coping and scored lower on substance use measures. Use of support-seeking coping was also negatively related to being involved in HIV-risky sexual behaviors, but possessing multiple role-identities was not related to sexual behaviors.
Qualitative interviews of a stratified random sample (n = 12) of subjects from the original sample showed stronger support for the theory indicating that possession of multiple self-confirming identities is related to good psychological adjustment, coping, and health behaviors. The qualitative analyses indicated that some of the weakness in the statistical analyses is due to measurement problems, but also brought into question the expected causal direction of the theory. Based on the qualitative analysis it is concluded that the possession of multiple identities is related to good health behavior when: the individual is committed to the identities; at least one of the identities is self-confirming of the subject’s status as gay; and the identities have diverse reference groups.
It is also concluded that having a goal orientation and considering it important to express one’s status as gay is the apparent cause for a subject’s possession of multiple identities, thus reversing the hypothesized causal ordering. These results are hypothesized to be due to a high degree of choice in role adoption by gay men. Implications for identity and identity-accumulation theory are discussed as are the political and public-health implications.
Begus SF (1992). Identity, politics and sexual subjectivities. PhD. Thesis, The John Hopkins University, DAI, Vol. 53-05A, p. 1696, 222 pages.
Abstract by author: This work addresses issues of identity categories, particularly sex and gender, and the political operation of these categories as power discourses. It is divided into four chapters.
Chapter I contains a general discussion of gender and sexuality as categories of identity. It considers how modern relations of domination are internalized into subjectivities based on identity categories. Some of Michel Foucault's theories on the circulation of modern discourses of power are presented. The connections between sex and gender are explored as they have been discussed in recent feminist and gay theory.
Chapter II considers postmodernism as a methodology for understanding categories of identity and their political deployment in social relations. It addresses the uses and limits of postmodernism for understanding gender and sex. Joan Scott's analysis of the conflict between equality and difference in feminist politics and thought is discussed. Scott shows how postmodernism, particularly deconstruction, can help feminists come to grips with not only the theoretical issues involved in the conflict, but also the political stakes. Other feminist critiques of postmodernism are presented, as well as Linda Alcoff's overview of the various positions.
Chapter III is a discussion of the bifurcation of sexuality into two categories of identity. The writings of Steven Epstein, Eve Sedgwick, Carole Vance, David Halperin and Diana Fuss are presented on the etiology of sexual identity and its political deployment in modern politics. The essentialist/social constructionist debate as it applies to sexuality is discussed in detail. The discussion of the etiology of sexuality and the strategic use of particular conceptions of identity prepares the way for the last chapter, which is discussion of some recent history of U.S. gay and lesbian political movements.
Chapter IV focuses on particular occurrences in recent U.S. history where conceptions of sexual identity were advanced, contested and reversed. The 1988 Baltimore Justice Campaign provides an example of an instance when conceptions of sexual identity were advanced and contested, producing particular political outcomes. The chapter ends with a discussion of possible political consequences for differing strategic deployments of identity categories.
Bennett EL (1992). The psychological and developmental process of maintaining a positive lesbian identity. ED.D. Thesis, Boston University, DAI, Vol. 52-11A, p. 3825, 244 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study, “The Psychological and Developmental Process of Maintaining a Positive Lesbian Identity” was to examine how lesbians maintain a positive sense of self given that they live in a culture that does not readily acknowledge or support their lesbianism. The three primary questions asked of participants included: What do you like and love about being a lesbian? What struggles and difficulties have you experienced in the maintenance of your lesbian identity? And, what are the sources of strength that you have drawn from to maintain a positive sense of self?
The study was based in the psychosocial framework of identity development of Erik Erikson, as well as in theories of feminist psychology, Black and “minority” identity development, and lesbian identity development. Although a critique of Erikson’s work revealed limitations in his theories regarding women and homosexuals, his discussion of the identity development of African-Americans (1968) provided a helpful framework for understanding lesbian identity development. A qualitative, descriptive, phenomenological research method was employed using a subjective life history approach. Ten lesbians, between the ages of 32-50, of various racial, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds were interviewed.
The identity development of the ten lesbians who participated in this study was found to be a cyclical, multi-dimensional process that involved a lifelong process of coming out and was affected by the psychosocial context of each individual’s life. The most significant component of identity development discussed by all of the participants regarded connection with other people. This is consistent with Erikson (1950, 1959, 1968) who stressed the need for individuals to see themselves reflected in and validated by others. This is also consistent with the self-in-relation theorists (Miller, 1976; Surrey, 1985) and other feminist theorists (Gilligan, 1982) who assert that women’s sense of self is developed in connection with others.
This study showed that for the ten lesbians interviewed, regardless of race, class, or ethnicity, positive identity development required connection with other people.
Bernstein EJ (1996). The relationship between perceived parent attachment, homosexual identity formation, psychological adjustment and parent awareness of gay and lesbian young adults. PhD. Thesis, Temple University, DAI, Vol. 57-09A, p. 4145, 194 pages.
Abstract by author: The primary purpose of the current study to explore the influence of parent attachment factors on homosexual identity formation, psychological adjustment and select aspects of parent awareness for a sample of gay and lesbian young adults. Since these areas represent important components in the lives of gay and lesbian individuals, they were additionally compared with each other to determine if significant relationships patterns exist. A review of the literature indicates a need for additional research studies in the area of family relationships for gay men and lesbians. Specifically, how relational factors with parents either supports or limits developmental, emotional and adaptive processes?
Participants included 108 self identified gay and lesbian individuals between 19-35 years old. Recruitment was accomplished through a variety of sources including gay/lesbian Listserv groups on the Internet, which provided a nationwide sample. Subjects independently completed the following instruments: Kenny Parent Attachment Questionnaire, Adult Personality Assessment Questionnaire, Gay Identity Questionnaire and a 20-item personal data/demographic survey. Using a non-experimental exploratory research design, data from these measures were assessed in order to answer the study's five research questions.
Demographic analysis demonstrated that higher parent education levels and younger age parents were significantly associated with greater parent attachment. Parent attachment factors were also significantly correlated with psychological adjustment scales suggesting a consistent relationship between parent attachment and emotional well being. Maternal attachment factors were shown to be positively associated with Homosexual Identity Formation (HIF) at the higher developmental stages, while conversely paternal attachment was seen to decline at these stages.
A surprising finding was that parent attachment factors did not vary whether a parent was aware of their son's/daughter's sexual/affectional orientation or not. Reported maternal awareness was associated with higher stages of homosexual identity progression consistent with the HIF model. This was not demonstrated for father awareness. Also parent relationships were shown to deteriorate initially after parent awareness, but improved over time and eventually returned to pre-awareness levels.
A limitation for this research involves a gap in sample representation of early stages of gay/lesbian identity formation. The study supports parent attachment as a viable area for exploring gay/lesbian identity development and psychological adjustment. Implications from this study can be of benefit in both clinical and support settings as well as in continued research in the areas of homosexuality and identity development, family relations and psychologica adjustment.
Binks SW (1993). Self-esteem, splitting, anxiety, fear, depression, anxiety and locus-control as they relate to the homosexual identity formation process. PhD. Thesis, The George Washington University, DAI, Vol. 54-03B, p. 1655, 157 pages.
Abstract by author: For many years and with mixed results, researchers have attempted to define differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals on levels of self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and locus of control. It was proposed that before comparisons can be made, one should not only consider the heuristic value in such a comparison but should understand fully the unique process of homosexual identity formation (HIF) and how it differs significantly from heterosexual identity formation. Depression, splitting, and fear also seemed appropriate for further study. Measures of homosexual identity integration (HII) have not been forthcoming.
To complete this research, this study proposes one measure and cross-validates it with another. The 231 male and 21 female volunteers (ages 18-61) were members of Dignity Washington—a large group of gay and lesbian Roman Catholics—and their friends. Measures included questions on demographics and past history of social support, the Homosexual Identity Integration Questionnaire (HIIQ), the Stage Allocation Measure (SAM), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Splitting Scale—Revised, the State—Trait Anxiety Inventory— Trait, the Anxiety Sensitivity Index, the Beck Depression Inventory—Short Form, the Fear Survey Schedule—II (revised), and the Internal-External Locus of Control Scale, Construct validities for the SAM and HIIQ were confirmed.
The study found that for men, the greater the level of HII, the higher their self-esteem; the lower their splitting, anxiety, fear, depression, and anxiety sensitivity; and, the greater the odds of their having an internal locus of control. Past history of social support was positively related to level of HII. The best model explaining the most variance in HII included anxiety, past history of social support, and anxiety sensitivity. For women, results found much stronger associations for splitting, fear, depression, and anxiety sensitivity. Locus of control and anxiety were not significant. Self-esteem approached significance.
The study concluded that the HIIQ proved a good measure of HII. It also concluded that because the HIF process involves many different personality variables, a measure of homosexual identity consolidation should be used when conducting research with gays and lesbians so that its effect can be controlled for and the sample used can be adequately described.
Bourne KA (1990). By the self defined: creating a lesbian identity. PhD. THESIS, University of Southern California, DAI, Vol. 51-04B, p. 2053.
Abstract by author: Forming a personal identity is the complex and uniquely human process of identifying categories and labels which define a picture of “self” as distinct from “others.” The process by which a woman takes on and integrates into her life a lesbian identity has been called “lesbian identity formation.” Through the use of intensive open-ended interviews with 18 lesbian women, this study investigated the experiential reality—the phenomenology—of lesbian identity formation, including how a woman comes to identify herself as a lesbian, how she incorporates this identity into her self-image, and how this identity may change and develop throughout her lifetime.
The product of this research effort is a set of 14 themes organized by means of a four-stage model. The model begins by describing a foundation of early life experience which adult lesbians retrospectively associate to their eventual formation of a lesbian identity. It then examines the process of questioning and weighing identity alternatives, and categorizes the events and realizations which lead to the assumption of a lesbian identity. Finally, it outlines ongoing lesbian identity issues which lesbians confront throughout the “post-identification” years of their lives.
The results of this study portray the process of forming a lesbian identity as something of a “double-edged sword.” Certain of the experiences of lesbian women growing up within a society which stigmatizes and oppresses same-sex sexuality tend to undermine self-esteem through the internalization of shame and the construction of a false or conforming self. At the same time, these experiences may also facilitate the development of such personally empowering qualities as the ability to affirm self-worth from the inside out, and the capacity to perceive, question and challenge cultural blind spots from a “tangential perspective.” (Copies available exclusively from Micrographics Department, Doheny Library, USC, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0182.)
Braswell P (1995). The influence of self-monitoring on the body attitudes of lesbians at different stages of lesbian identity. PSY.D. Thesis, California School of Professional Psychology, Berkeley/Alameda, DAI, Vol. 56-06B, p. 3434, 52 pages.
Abstract by author: Most women are more dissatisfied and concerned over their body weights than are men (Fallon & Rozin, 1985; Brand, Rothblum and Solomon, 1992). However, there is clinical evidence to show that a sub-group of women— lesbians—may have more positive body attitudes than other groups of women (Brown, 1987). In order to explore the body attitudes of lesbians, this study investigates the association between levels of lesbian identity integration, self-monitoring (high and low), and body attitudes. Self-monitoring is a personality construct that describes differences in how people regulate themselves in social interactions. High self-monitors use external cues of social appropriateness, while low self-monitors depend on internal, affective cues. Two hundred lesbians, ages 18 to 66, responded to advertisements and completed a packet of mail-out questionnaires: a background information sheet; The Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire (Cash, 1985); The Self-Monitoring Scale (Snyder & Gangestad, 1986); The Stage Allocation Measure (Cass, 1984); and a comment sheet.
Results of this study confirmed the hypothesis that stage of lesbian identity integration accounts for significant variation in body attitudes. On three of the MBSRQ body attitude scales, women more integrated with their lesbian identity felt significantly better about their bodies than women less integrated. This indicates that out lesbians are more positive than less out lesbians on how they evaluate their appearance, physical health, and overall body satisfaction. In addition, across seven scales, those who were more integrated with their lesbian identity had more positive body attitudes, although these differences fell short of significance. Self-monitoring had minimal effects on body attitudes. High self-monitoring was positively associated with putting action towards appearance, which was expected from the theory of self-monitoring. However, when self-monitoring and lesbian identity were combined, unexpected results occurred from the interaction. Overall, among low self-monitors, identity was associated with positive differences in body attitudes. Among high self-monitors, stage of identity had minimal association with differences in body attitudes. Among lesbians with body image disorders, the importance of establishing lesbian identity was emphasized as a treatment goal in psychotherapy.
Burda T (1991). It takes courage to leave: a phenomenological study of women who have cut off from their families of origin. PSY.D. Thesis, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, DAI, Vol. 52-08B, p. 4460, 206 pages.
Abstract by author: The ties which women have with their families of origin are complex and can be fraught with ambivalence. In certain cases, the family environment has not been nurturing for women and children, and worse, it has not been safe for them. Mainstream psychological theorists have almost unanimously emphasized the most pernicious aspects of family cutoffs. Although much has been written on cutoffs from a theoretical lens, cutoffs have not been studied from the perspective of the individual initiating such a break. Such an exploration was the goal of the present study.
Following a phenomenological research design, 10 women were interviewed who had been cut off from their parents by their own volition for two years or more. Their reasons for cutting off included: (1) seven women, who had been sexually abused as children, stated that their parents had disconfirmed their experiences of abuse; (2) two women, who were lesbians, stated that their parents could not accept their sexual preference; (3) one woman described patterns of emotional abuse in her family. A predominant theme for all the subjects was identifying with the position of family scapegoat. This study found that for the sexual abuse subsample, the act of physically separating was instrumental in breaking bonds of fear with their families.
Many of these women described a significant shift in their coping strategies since the cutoff. The two women, who had cut off because of sexual preference issues, talked about the importance of achieving a gay identity in working through the pain of their parents' rejection. Cutoffs were discussed as a challenge to societal assumptions. When an individual's life is contextualized to include the malevolent influences of some families, a woman's need for separation takes on new meaning. Implications were suggested for theory, research, and practice.
Carlson JT (1994). Future expectations of gay men: a qualitative analysis using Kelly's personal construct theory. PSY.D. Thesis, Chicago School of Professional Psychology, DAI, Vol. 56-02B, p. 1125, 123 pages.
Abstract by author: This study investigated the effects of gay identity acquisition and gay community acculturation on the future expectations of 24 self-identified gay men. It established gay identity level using the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid and gay community acculturation level using the Gay Acculturation Index.
The study examined both the length and content of gay men's future expectations and how these expectations compared to those of their older and younger gay male peers. It also explored ways in which these expectations might change as a function of subjects' gay identity acquisition, relationship status, and current health status.
The findings showed that gay men anticipate the future in a variety of ways that both parallel and diverge from previous research concerning heterosexual life-course norms. The discussion provides clinical and theoretical applications of the findings and recommends directions for future research.
Carroll RE (1995). The relationship of internalized heterosexism and outness about a lesbian sexual orientation to psychological adjustment. PhD. Thesis, Howard University, DAI Vol. 56-10B, p. 5760, 158 pages.
Abstract by author: This research examined the relationship of internalized heterosexism and outness about a lesbian sexual orientation to psychological adjustment. Anonymous questionnaires were completed by 208 self-identified, adult lesbian volunteers. Multivariate analyses of variance showed that lesbians who had lower levels of internalized heterosexism had higher self-esteem, lower shame, and fewer symptoms of psychological distress than lesbians with higher levels of internalized heterosexism. Although internalized heterosexism and outness about a lesbian sexual orientation were found to have a significant, inverse relationship, results of a MANOVA showed that lesbians who were more out did not differ in psychological adjustment from lesbians who were less out about their sexual orientation.
Simultaneous multiple regression analyses indicated that psychological adjustment and demographic variables accounted for a significant portion of the variance in internalized heterosexism and outness about a lesbian sexual orientation. Forward stepwise regression analyses determined significant predictors of internalized heterosexism and outness. Shame, paranoia, and age accounted for approximately one sixth of the variance in levels of internalized heterosexism, though their relative contributions to its prediction vary. Age, number of years self-identified as a lesbian, paranoia, and depression served as best predictors of outness about a lesbian sexual orientation. Together, they accounted for about 18% of the variance in outness.
This study confirms psychological theory and previous research to underscore the relationships among internalized heterosexism, outness, and psychological adjustment as significant in lesbians' lives. These relationships are best viewed as reciprocal, with changes in one phenomenon relating to changes in another. Thus, therapists should keep in mind that effective interventions with lesbian clients include the consideration of issues related to internalized heterosexism and the coming out process, along with treating more traditional dimensions of psychological adjustment.
Psychologists must be careful to address issues of heterosexism in themselves, in education programs, and in supervision of cases with lesbian clients to provide responsible and ethical services. Knowledge and implementation of strategies that reduce heterosexist bias will ultimately help lesbian clients reduce their own internalized heterosexism and negotiate tasks related to their coming out process and psychological adjustment more effectively.
Publication No. 9605347
Carroll TK (1996). A critical look at theories of gay male identify development. PhD Thesis, The Wright Institute (Sociology), DAI, Vol. 57-07A, p. 3278, 213 pages.
Abstract by author: During the last 25 years, with the rise of gay and lesbian studies, a new picture has emerged that challenges the historical inevitability of the categories hetero/homo. Specifically, queer theory has created an in-depth theoretical base from which to form a critique of traditional forms of sexual identity and to illuminate the middle class assumptions underlying such forms.
Current theories of gay identity development, such as Cass (1979), which date from the early days of gay liberation, with its insistence on gay acceptability and the unquestioning use of the category “homosexual,” are in serious need of modern critical investigation. Hence, this project takes a critical look at Cass’s theory through the lens of queer theory in order to explore the complex interrelationship of patriarchy, gender roles, the categories of homo/hetero, race, class, and the implications and limitations of questioning these categories for gay and straight identified clients within traditional therapy.
Specifically, this project outlines the history of queer theory, the history of the pre-modern gay identity, and the history of how a modern gay identity arose from middle class assumptions and values. The investigation lays the groundwork for a stage by stage critique of Cass’ developmental model and the middle class assumptions of such a model. Lastly, recommendations are offered for clinicians currently working with clients on issues of sexual identity.
Coyle AG (1991). The construction of gay identity (Volumes I and II). PhD. Thesis, University of Surrey, DAI, Vol. 52-08B, p. 4519, 818 pages.
Abstract by author: Drawing upon the work of McAdams (1988) and Breakwell (1986) on identity, gay identity can be conceptualised as a personal narrative that individuals construct in an attempt to impart meaning, coherence and purpose to the experiences they have had in relation to their same-sex sexual preference, and to boost their self-esteem and sense of personal continuity by forging connections between these experiences and imposing causality on them. With the aim of accessing the gay identity narratives of a sample of gay men, a structured multiple-choice-type questionnaire which examined experiences relating to the formation of a gay identity was distributed to 204 self-defined gay men in Greater London. The 146 completed questionnaires that were returned were first subjected to frequency analysis.
One of the main findings to emerge was that respondents reported having constructed their gay identity formation narratives against a background of internalised negative societal ideas about homosexuals and homosexuality, which rendered problematic the admission of a gay identity to their over-arching identity and the attribution of a positive evaluation to this gay identity. Data were also subjected to multiple regression analysis, the major outcome of which was that contact with the gay subculture appeared to have facilitated the development of a gay identity that individuals could regard as personally advantageous by challenging the negative images of homosexuals and homosexuality internalised during socialisation and by allowing individuals access to a subcultural narrative in which the development of a gay identity is construed as a worthwhile task.
Respondents’ accounts of their gay identity formation experiences were generally interpreted on two levels, i.e., as reflecting the actualities of the events they described and, importing concepts from work on autobiographical memory, as reconstructions of those events within gay identity formation narratives designed to boost the narrator’s self-esteem and sense of personal continuity.
Cramer EP (1995). Effects of a short-term educational unit about lesbian identity development and self-disclosure in a social work methods course. PhD. Thesis, University of South Carolina, DAI, Vol. 56-06A, p. 2414, 230 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study was to determine how a short- term educational unit about lesbian identity development and disclosure would influence social work students' attitudes toward lesbians and gay men, their knowledge of lesbian identity development and disclosure, and their anticipated professional behavior with lesbian clients. A quasi-experimental research design was employed with two treatment groups, an untreated comparison group, and a pretest and posttest with the same sample.
The respondents were students in a graduate social work methods course in a southeastern university (N = 107). The findings show that an educational intervention significantly improved students' attitudes toward gay men in one of the treatment groups, significantly improved students' knowledge about lesbian identity development and disclosure in both treatment groups, and did not significantly improve the treatment groups' anticipated professional behavior with lesbian clients as compared to the comparison group.
Davidson NS (1995). Homophobia and shame in women struggling with sexual orientation and borderline processes: a self-psychology perspective. PSY.D. Thesis, Antioch University, New England Graduate School, DAI, Vol. 56-06B, p. 3440, 181 pages.
Abstract by author: Women struggling with their sexual orientation often bring to therapy a wide range of prior narcissistic injuries. The past literature in this area has identified the need for clinicians to be adept in differential diagnosis and to distinguish between “coming out” material and symptoms of personality disorder.
This paper specifically focuses on the female client struggling with both her sexual orientation and severe early narcissistic injury. A Self Psychology perspective is used to understand the borderline process and its link with a shamed core sense of self. A clinical case study examines how the individual with a shamed core self struggles with the shame of internalized homophobia and the stigma of a lesbian identity. The author postulates that such clients confuse the shame they experienced from early childhood with the shame of struggling with a lesbian sexual orientation. As a part of this process, the borderline defenses become manifested within the client’s internalized homophobia.
In order to help the client acquire a positive lesbian identity, the therapist must help the client disentangle both her profound childhood shame and borderline defenses from her internalized homophobia. The author reviews the literature that is necessary for the clinician to guide a client through this complex process, discussing Self Psychology, shame, internalized homophobia, and stages of lesbian identification. The case study is presented within the context of this literature.
Derr LS (1992). Leaving the lesbian label behind: women who change their sexual identity. PSY.D. Thesis, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, DAI, Vol. 54-04B, p. 2271, 376 pages.
Abstract by author: This exploratory study examines the experiences of ten white women over 30 who had identified as lesbian, who no longer did so exclusively, and who were currently in relationships with men. Through analyzing detailed interviews, the factors that motivated their sexual orientation change and their evolving self concepts are described. The many areas covered include the politics of sexuality, the maintenance of a stigmatized sexual orientation identity, the etiology of female sexual orientation, and the effect of gender on sexual relationships, while the primary focus is on how the subjects’ experiences both illuminate and were influenced by the social construction of gender and sexuality. The subjects’ use of essentialist or constructionist accounts to explain their past lesbianism and current heterosexual behavior revealed that what most of them perceived to be personal experiences were deeply embedded in their sociohistorical contexts.
The findings indicate that the subjects’ essentialist thinking, especially their use of the concepts of “true self’ and “natural sexual desire,” contributed to their lack of awareness of the profound influences of social forces on their behavior and thus upheld the system that privileges heterosexuality. The findings also indicate that the present construction of gender supports the institution of heterosexuality through gendered patterns of interpersonal and sexual behavior, through the relational construction of female eroticism, and through the meaning of the word woman which implies “heterosexual mother.” It is concluded that women whose sexual orientations are variable could contribute to transforming the dominant epistemology of scientific truth that creates a binary system of fixed, “natural” genders and sexualities by identifying publicly as bisexual and thereby pointing the way towards a new pluralistic politics of sexuality and gender.
Esparza GM (1996). All the wrong places: homophobia, self-esteem, and anonymous sex among gay men. M.S.W. Thesis, California State University, Long Beach, MAI, Vol. 35-03, p. 708, 83 pages.
Abstract by author: This study explored relationships between the psychological adjustment variables of self-esteem and internalized homophobia on the frequency of anonymous sexual behavior in gay men.
The study’s convenience sample consisted of 28 gay men between the ages of 23 to 52 years old. Participants completed a 20 minute questionnaire which consisted of a 10-item self-esteem scale, a 30-item index to measure internalized homophobia, and an eight-item scale that measured the frequency of anonymous sex. After completing the questionnaire, 10 respondents were selected to participate in a face-to-face tape-recorded interview as part of the qualitative aspect of this study.
Findings indicated that no relationship exists between levels of self-esteem and anonymous sex. An inverse relationship, however, approached significance in the correlation between internalized homophobia and anonymous sexual behavior; that as the level of internalized homophobia decreased, the frequency of anonymous sex increased slightly. Further insight provided from the interview subjects suggested that some gay men perceive anonymous sexual activity as a positive element of their gay identity.
Finn LJ (1994). The relationship between world view, identity development, and sexual affectation in Euro-American women. PhD. Thesis, University of Missouri, Kansas City, DAI, Vol. 55-06B, p. 2436, 247 pages.
Abstract by author: Focus on both identity development and world view models in the multicultural counseling literature has increased over the last 20 years. However, these models have consistently focused on either the emic or the etic approaches, rarely acknowledging the complexities related to situations in which multiple oppression occurs. However, for lesbian women, insight into the selection of a strategy mediating and integrating their identities as both women and lesbians into a positive image of self is related to the relationship between etic and emic assumptions related to the development of both female and lesbian identities.
The present research focused on an examination of an integrative conceptualization addressing lesbian and female identity development, world view, and sexual-affectional orientation. Data accumulated from two hundred voluntary participants were used to investigate intragroup differences and similarities of world view in lesbian women who expressed varying levels of positive female identity development and lesbian identity development; as well as intergroup similarities and differences of world view between lesbian and nonlesbian women at differing stages of female identity development.
A series of multivariate analyses revealed complex intragroup patterns among lesbians as well as complex intergroup patterns between lesbian and heterosexual women relative to identity development and world view. Findings indicated that lesbians who had not successfully negotiated more advanced female identity development levels, regardless the level of lesbian identity development, tended to perceive the world as more adversarial and dangerous than did lesbian women who had negotiated more advanced female identity development levels.
Intergroup similarities reflected similar world view scores for both lesbian and heterosexual women at similar female identity development levels. However, intergroup differences suggested that less advanced female identity development in lesbians was associated with a perception that the world is more dangerous, while less advanced female identity in heterosexual women is associated with acceptance of dominant culture norms.
Fox RC (1993). Coming out bisexual: Identity, behavior, and sexual orientation disclosure. PhD. Thesis, California Institute of Integral Studies, DAI, Vol. 55-12B, p. 5565, 222 pages.
Abstract by author: A volunteer sample of 835 self-identified bisexual women and men was surveyed using a self-report questionnaire in order to investigate the factors involved in the formation of bisexual identities. Significant gender and age cohort group differences were found for developmental milestone events in four areas: awareness of homosexuality and bisexuality; sexual attractions, fantasies, behavior, and relationships; sexual orientation self-identification; and sexual orientation self-disclosure. Several results stand out.
For most women, homosexual attractions and behavior took place after their first heterosexual attractions and behavior. In contrast, a greater proportion of men than women experienced their first homosexual attractions and behavior before their first heterosexual behavior. Although men first questioned their sexual orientation earlier than women, both women and men first self-identified as bisexual at about the same ages. While many respondents moved to a bisexual identity from a heterosexual identity, about one-third first self-identified as lesbian or gay, suggesting that sexual identity is not as immutable for all individuals as many theorists and researchers have assumed. Greater proportions of both men and women had disclosed their bisexuality to friends and relationship partners than to family members, helping professionals, or to people at work or school. Significant age cohort group differences were found for all milestone events, suggesting that the process of coming out bisexual is occurring earlier for younger bisexual women and men than was the case for older individuals. The results confirm both similarities and differences in bisexual and homosexual identity development.
Bisexual men and women resemble lesbians and gay men in their need to acknowledge and receive support for their homosexual attractions and behavior. Bisexual women and men, however, need to acknowledge and gain support for their homosexual and heterosexual attractions, whether or not they actualize either or both in terms of sexual behavior or relationships during any particular period of time. The results of this research establish a more comprehensive base of information about the factors involved in the formation of bisexual identities that can serve as a resource for further examination and understanding of bisexuality and bisexual identity development.
Garcia BC (1997). The development of a gay Latino identity. PhD. Thesis, The Fielding Institute, DAI, Vol. 58-04A, p. 1454, 189 Pages.
Abstract by author: This study was designed to explore the identity development process for gay Latino men. Much has been written on gay identity development and ethnic identity, but research that examines the cross-section of both identities is very limited. Stage sequential ethnic and gay identity development theories do not fully explain the identity development process for gay Latino men because the theories are static and dependent on unresolved issues to be resolved for growth to occur. This qualitative study examines the integration of a Latino and gay identity. The constant comparative method of qualitative data analysis was used to analyze the transcripts of interviews with 10 gay Latino men.
The men in this study experienced the struggle of allegiances between Latino ethnic identity and gay identity that is similar to the assimilation and acculturation struggle that occurs with ethnic identity development. For the majority of men in this study, the integration of a Latino and gay identity, although difficult and challenging, is demonstrated through concentric circles that intersect and one’s choice to move in and out from them. Identity within concentric circles allowed most of the men to open themselves up and explore different parts of themselves and who they are. The identity development of these 10 men is better illustrated through a multicultural model whereby an individual learns to function optimally by moving in and out of two or more discrete cultures.
The theories that emerge from the transcripts also illustrate the factors, including family and religion, that can block or support the process of identity development for these 10 gay Latino men.
Ghindia DJ (1994). The effects of differing stages of homosexual identity integration, diminished self-esteem and a substance abuse familial history on substance abuse among homosexual men. PhD. Thesis, Case Western Reserve University, DAI, Vol. 55-09A, p. 2989, 208 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of three psychosocial factors in the development of substance abuse among homosexual men, a group that appears to manifest appreciably higher rates and concomitantly greater associated problems than the general population. Adhering to the conviction that homosexuality is not intrinsically dysfunctional, two constructs were advanced as being negatively impacted by social stigmatization: the formation of an integrated homosexual identity and the development of self-esteem. Moreover, a significant familial history of substance abuse was explored as a third major predictor, given previous research which has firmly established it as a precursor of substance abuse among the general population.
Data were obtained by voluntary subject return of a self-report instrument that was distributed widely in the Northeastern Ohio (Cleveland) area, resulting in a moderately sized sample (N = 341). As with most urban samples of homosexual men, the group was overwhelmingly white and well educated. Operational measures of stages of homosexual identity formation, Case Stage Allocation Measure (CSAM); self-esteem, Index of Self-Esteem (ISE); a family history of substance abuse, Family History-Research Diagnostic Criteria (modified FH-RDC); substance use/abuse and related problems, Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test, Drug Abuse Screening Test (MAST/DAST); and a frequency of substance use measure (FM), for each of four drugs: alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and an other specified drug were utilized.
Results indicated that diminished self-esteem and a significant family history of substance abuse were each found to have significant associations with both alcohol and drug abuse and were confirmed to be salient predictors, accounting for almost half the variance in alcohol abuse and over one-third the variance in drug abuse. Further, both variables had the ability to significantly discern between alcohol and drug use groups versus groups determined to be alcohol and drug abusive.
Additional findings confirmed a strong positive association between the alcohol and drug abuse measures and significant positive relationships between alcohol use/abuse and frequency of alcohol consumption, as well as drug use/abuse and the frequencies of marijuana and cocaine use. As anticipated, alcohol was the preferred drug, surpassing marijuana, cocaine or any other designated drug. Moreover, as almost one half of the sample possessed diminished self-esteem and almost three-fourths had not reached full integration of their homosexual identities, notwithstanding age, study conclusions lent indirect support to the deleterious effects of societal stigmatization.
No significant differences were found by age group in frequency of use of specific drugs with the exception of cocaine, which appeared to be cohort specific to the group, aged twenty-five through thirty-nine. This group also appeared to be the most profoundly effected by alcohol and drug abuse. Although, conjectural, an explanation given was that these men were most heavily invested in the ascribed homosexual lifestyle, which is inextricably to the homosexual bar, at least in the midwest, the geographic region from which the sample was drawn.
Given these findings, salient practice and policy implications were outlined. Finally, recommendations for further research included longitudinal designs, attempts to obtain more representative samples, as well as investigation of these concepts with lesbians.
Gil-Gomez EM (1995). Performing La Mestiza: textual representations of lesbians of color and the negotiation of identities. PhD Thesis, Washington State University, DAI, Vol. 57-06A, p. 2538, 335 pages.
Abstract by author: This dissertation examines identity construction while focusing on the intersections of feminist, gender, queer, and ethnic theories. This focus corrects the problematic tendency of these fields to concern themselves with narrowly defined subjects that justify their study but limit their conclusions. Historically many theorists have criticized mainstream feminism for being primarily concerned with white heterosexual women, and I show that this privileging has continued within gender and gay studies as well. While, ethnic studies has generally not seen the relevance of including issues central to gender or gay studies.
This isolationism has created the illusion that each identification exists perfectly separated. Thus, theories of gender, ethnicity, and sexuality all fail to account for lesbians of color which shows the limitations of separating facets of identity. Conversely, examining the literature and theories of lesbians of color leads to a new idea of identity that accounts for multiplicity. Because this woman, illustrated through both the real and the literary subject, exists within multiple identity constructions she negates the boundaries of most identity theories.
In order to find a useful theoretical framework I begin with Judith Butler’s performance theory and Gloria Anzaldua’s mestiza consciousness. While both are initially useful, neither adequately accounts for the lesbian of color’s identity. To illustrate this lesbian’s specific situation, as a disrupter of singly conceived theoretical paradigms, I describe the many elements of both the dominant culture’s and her own culture’s opposition to her existence as a multiply identified subject.
Finally, I describe how the lesbian of color can survive by constructing a positive identity within her own community through creative acts of cultural revision. This affects identity theory generally. Ultimately, revising concepts of identity to allow for differences is needed not just to “include minorities” but also to show the glaring limitations to the construction of identity that exist for any subject regardless of minority status.
Gilmartin K (1995). "The very house of difference": intersection of identities in the life histories of Colorado lesbians, 1940-1965. PhD. Thesis, Yale University, DAI, Vol. 56-07A, p. 2904, 340 pages.
Abstract by author: This dissertation examines the life history narratives of women who loved women and were living in Colorado or neighboring states during the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s. The study is based on intensive life history interviews with forty women conducted by the author between 1991 and 1993. Working from the assumption that identities are always multiple, the study focuses on ways in which sexual identities intersect with those of gender, race, ethnicity, and class. The dissertation examines the historical development of lesbian identities as they existed in relation to other identities: What did it mean in the 1940s to be middle class, European American, female, lesbian, and butch- identified, living in a small town in rural Wyoming? What did it mean in the 1950s to be working class, Mexican American, female, lesbian, and uneasy with butch and fem identities, living in Denver? These various identities cannot be reckoned individually and then added together; they are lived simultaneously. To what extent did these identities help to constitute one another? In what ways did these identities overlap with and contradict each other, and how were these coincidences and contradictions lived out? How did the intersections of identities shape an individual's sense of community, or her understanding of gender? How did identifying as a lesbian entail renegotiating other identifications? Each chapter of the dissertation is a somewhat autonomous examination of these issues in the life history narrative of a particular woman; chapters focus on gender, sexuality, and rurality in the life of a European American middle-class lesbian; middle-class lesbian identities and cultural spaces; intersections of gender, sexuality, and culture in the life of a Chicana working-class lesbian; and the strategy of "respect" in the life of an African American working-class lesbian. Together, the life histories articulate a conception of identity that is grounded in the historical specificity of material and social conditions, but is, at the same time multiple, fluid, and contingent. The lives of these narrators demonstrate that sexual identities are always gendered, classed, raced, and culturally specific.
Gribowski LA (1995). Writing identity: an interpretation of lesbian coming-out stories. M.A. Thesis, University of Toronto, MAI, Vol. 34-02, p. 624, 60 pages, ISBN: 0-315-02010-X
Abstract by author: This thesis examines how lesbians frame “coming-out” in written narratives. I am especially interested in how white middle-class lesbians position themselves relative to systems of race and class privilege. The starting point of this project is my own coming-out story. Throughout the thesis I consistently map out my own story and academic interests/intentions in order to trouble my position as a white, middle-class lesbian.
I begin by defining coming-out as a process of exploration and evaluation of romantic and/or sexual feelings for women, entailing reconceptualising sexual identity beyond the limitations of heterosexuality. Next I challenge popular notions of the construction of “lesbian” as a stable, monolithic identity. I try to show how it is discursively ordered to set up a hierarchy of oppression whereby sex is privileged over and above race and class identity. I situate these stories in a historical and socio-political context in order to show the racism inherent in feminist conceptions of lesbian identity in first wave feminism in North America. I then proceed to compare and contrast the different ways in which lesbians of colour and white lesbians discuss their erotic feelings for women.
I conclude that white lesbians focus almost exclusively on sex and gender while the narratives of lesbians of colour emerge as multi-layered. At this point I tell my own coming-out story in order to centrally position myself in my work and also to rework racist and classist coming-out narratives. I conclude by defining ‘whiteness’ and theorising about how coming-out narratives by white lesbians are hemmed together. I do this specifically by identifying and examining the main distinguishing features, the intended reader, and the notion of “home” as defined in coming-out narratives.
Hall DA (1997). Self-concept and multiple reference group identity structure in lesbians of Black-African descent. PhD. Thesis, California School of Professional Psychology, Berkeley/Alameda, DAI, Vol. 58-05, p. 2718, 117 pages.
Abstract by author: This study examined the interrelationships and structure of three multiple reference group identities (race, gender, and sexual) in lesbians of Black-African descent and examined how these identities predicted both Eurocentric and Africentric self-concept. One hundred lesbians of Black-African descent ranging from 18 to 61 years of age who resided predominantly in the San Francisco/Bay Area were recruited through various community, academic, social, and spiritual avenues. Multiple measures were used.
The Tennessee Self-Concept Scale measured Eurocentric self-concept; the Social Outlook Scale measured Africentric self-concept. The Racial Identity Attitude Scale, along with its adaptations for gender and sexual identity, measured the multiple reference group identities, and the Multiple Identity Questionnaire, designed by the present researcher, measured the interrelationships among the identities. Although results indicated that the participants' race, gender, and sexual identities were interrelated, their race identity exerted the most influence on the other identities. Results were mixed regarding the structure of the multiple identities.
A statistically significant number of participants ranked their identities as equally important, yet of those participants who did rank their identities, almost a third ranked their race identity as most important. In social contexts, participants expressed their race and gender identities more easily than their sexual identity. Specifically, it was easier to express their gender than their sexual identity in a Black social context and easier to express their race than their sexual identity in a female social context. Neither race nor gender identity was perceived to be easier to express in a lesbian social context. None of the identities differentially predicted the Eurocentric self-concept, whereas gender identity accounted for most of the variance in the Africentric self-concept.
These findings stress the polycultural, multiple identity issues lesbians of Black-African descent experience. These issues are important for clinicians to understand when working with this population in individual, group, couples, or family therapy. Suggestions for future research include investigating whether the interrelationships and structure of the multiple identities change over time and how these changes affect interpersonal and social functioning.
Hartman SJ (1995). Narrative style/narrated identity: resistances to categories of gay identity in the coming out story. PhD. Thesis, New School for Social Research, DAI, Vol. 56-11B, p. 6391, 217 pages.
Abstract by author: In a coming out story, a gay narrator describes an earlier disclosure of his sexual orientation to a third party. The story is constrained by a rigid fabula: the narrator is led to chronicle moments in the past when he questioned his sexual orientation, kept it hidden “in the closet” and decided to reveal it to someone. Thereupon, the events of coming out and the reaction they instigate ensue. Each of these elements of the story correspond to categories of self-definition that gays must cite to claim their current gay identity.
Psychologists have understood gay and lesbian identity in relation to an individual’s progress through a more or less linear sequence of developmentally based categorization tasks. Following this view, it would seem that a coming out story provides evidence of the narrator’s movement through stages of gay identity development. However, our close reading of 5 coming out stories shows that narrators do not tell these stories according to the expected fabula. Stylistic interventions in the coming out story provide evidence of resistance to gay identity categories. The notion that categories of gay identity coherently describe gay subjects was revisited based on a performative view of gay identity.
Five stories were broken down into narrative and nonnarrative idea units. Coders scored each unit on a Scale of Coming Out Experiences that included a score to account for information not essential to the coming out story. Idea units were also coded for the presence of 17 stylistic gestures, defined as signals that the story’s temporal frame had shifted and that categorical claims, which the story is designed to orchestrate, had been deferred. A comparison of stylistic elaboration in “gay specific” and “non-gay specific” elements of the story allowed us to determine that narrators actively resist using gay identity categories. Further, while their stories follow the linear fabula, they disrupt the linear sequence of the fabula in ways that mark idiosyncratic concerns. From this, it is concluded that gay identity, even as it is claimed categorically, can best be studied as a performative act of narration.
Hawkeswood WG (1991). “One of the children”: an ethnography of identity and gay black men. PhD. Thesis, Colombia University, DAI, Vol. 52-08A, p. 2968, 391 pages.
Abstract by author: This dissertation is an ethnographic exploration of gay Black identity in Harlem, New York City. The first part includes an outline of the ethnography and locates it within the existing literature on Black men, Black culture, and the gay community. The gay Black men who comprise the subject population are described and their community defined: both the personal social networks which constitute the gay “family” and the public social institutions that comprise the “gay scene”. The second part analyzes the elements of Black and gay cultures which these men deem significant to their self-identification as Black men who just happen to be gay.
The meaning of sexuality for gay Black men and the impact of the AIDS epidemic on the gay Black community in Harlem are shown to contribute to the social construction of gay Black identity. Finally, the combination of these elements of gay Black identity are discussed as they are expressed in gay Black culture.
Holmes RH (1992). A proposed stage model of lesbian identity development. PhD. Thesis, California School of Professional Psychology, Fresno, DAI, Vol. 53-12B, p. 6554, 206 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study was to develop a stage theory of lesbian identity development. In the present study lesbian and clinical subjects (therapists and researchers) commented on the validity of a nine phase stage model of lesbian identity development. Results from the study allowed for the construction of a stage model which encompasses the commonalities and experiences of lesbian identity formation. Results supported the hypothesis that lesbian identity is a non-linear process which can be affected by external (societal) and internal (homophobia) constraints, and is dependent upon the completion of specific developmental tasks. Comparisons of past stage model conceptualizations with the present, as well as implication for therapy with lesbian clients, were also discussed.
Hunter J (1996). Emerging from the shadows: lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents, personal identity, achievement, coming out, and sexual risk behaviors. D.S.W. Thesis, City University of New York, DAI, Vol. 57-05B, p. 3432, 233 pages.
Abstract by author: This exploratory study examines relationships between sexual identity status, coming out, and HIV sexual risk behaviors among gay/lesbian/bisexual adolescents in New York City. During adolescence, personal identity achievement is a central task for all youth, including gay/lesbian/bisexual youth, and is also a period of risk taking. To understand this most vulnerable period in their lives, lesbian/gay/bisexual adolescents (76 females and 81 males, ages 14-21 (mean = 18.2) participated in a structured interview to assess sexual risk acts (prior three months). Sexual identity achievement (exploration and commitment), was examined in relation to both the coming-out process and HIV-risk behaviors.
The coming-out process was also studied in relation to HIV risk sexual behaviors. Questionnaires used were Coming Out Scales (attitudes toward own homosexuality, information about the lesbian/gay communities, disclosure of sexual identity to others); SERBAS-Y-HM-M/F-1, to define self-label as lesbian, gay, or bisexual; Personal Identity Scale, to assess sexual identity status (defined as Achieved (high on exploration and commitment to a homosexual identity), Moratorium (high on exploration/low on commitment), Foreclosed (low on exploration/high on commitment), and Diffused (low on both); and the SERBAS-Y-SH-HM-M/F-1, to assess sexual risk behaviors.
Sexual identity achievement is a process of exploration and commitment similar to the process of religious and ethnic identity achievement. Sexual identity does not determine or define sexual behavior. While there were significant gender differences, gay/lesbian/bisexual adolescents are having high-risk unprotected sex. This situation requires extensive HIV prevention efforts.
Hurley KW (1993). A qualitative study of sexual identity among bisexual and lesbian women in a lesbian-feminists community. M.A. Thesis, University of Victoria, MAI, Vol. 32-03, p. 866, 166 pages, ISBN: 0-315-84339-X
Abstract by author: The purpose of my research is to explore the inter-relationships between women’s personal beliefs about the nature of sexual orientation, their involvement in a lesbian-feminist community, and their choices of sexual identity.
The participants indicated that their choice to identify themselves as bisexual or lesbian was influenced by their placing particular interpretations on their sexual histories. The choice of sexual identity label was also influenced by the pressures of biphobia and radical feminist lesbian separatism within the lesbian-feminist community, as well as by the systemic homophobia, misogyny and heterosexism which organizes women’s sexuality within the larger dominant culture.
The constitution of being bisexual or lesbian involved a process of these women negotiating between their sexual feelings and behaviors and the range of external labels existent in the discourses of science, medicine, law, religion and lesbian-feminism. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
Jacobo MC (1997). The role of same-sex orientation in female development. PhD. Thesis, University of Massachusetts, DAI, Vol. 58-06B, p. 3317, 320 pages.
Abstract by author: In recent years, theorists in the fields of psychoanalysis and gay and lesbian studies have turned their attention to the study of the complex role of homosexuality in human development from a non-pathological perspective. Specifically, some psychoanalytic theorists have resumed studying the complex relationships among self-concept development, relationship quality and homosexuality. This study provided an in-depth examination of the formative experiences of a small sample of non-patient lesbian women.
The study was guided by four general questions: (1) How do lesbian women conceptualize the nature and development of their sexual and gender identities? (2) What intrapsychic, familial, and societal variables shape these identities? (3) Throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood what are the processes through which lesbian women develop and negotiate their self-concepts and relationships with others? (4) What is the interplay between typical developmental processes and experiences unique to women coming of age with a same-sex identity? The sample consisted of eight lesbian women. Subjects participated in a specially designed semistructured interview, and the data were analyzed using a systematic qualitative approach.
Women's stories revealed that gender and sexual identity are varied and dynamic constructs, paralleling identity development across the lifespan. For the most part, women enjoyed their childhoods and considered their relationships with parents to be positive. The women in this sample described multiple patterns of maternal and paternal influence on identity and relational style. During adolescence, young women moved away from parents as primary sources of identity and into the social world. Some women reported an awareness of homoerotic feelings during this period which threatened their vulnerable self-concepts; in most cases, these feelings were repressed in the service of maintaining a cohesive sense of self and connection to others.
For the women in this sample, the tasks of young adulthood included coming out to self and parents, and negotiating intimacy with significant others. Overall, women with a same sex orientation face developmental milestones typical of all individuals, as well as milestones unique to the gay and lesbian population; the negotiation of these milestones is mediated by the individual's personality and family dynamics. The in-depth nature of this study revealed a complexity and richness of experience not considered in reductionistic psychoanalytic theories of lesbian development.
Jordan KM (1995). Coming out and relationship quality for lesbian women. PhD. Thesis, University of Maryland Baltimore County, DAI, Vol. 56-05B, p. 2941, 132 pages.
Abstract by author: The present study investigated the relations of lesbians’ disclosure of their sexual orientation to measures of adjustment (e.g., self-esteem, anxiety, positive affectivity) and relationship satisfaction. The participants were 499 women who responded to a lengthy questionnaire consisting of both original and previously developed measures. Level of self-disclosure, sources of social support, forms of socializing, self-description of sexual orientation, length of self-identification as lesbian, and other factors were included, in the questionnaire.
The more widely a woman disclosed her sexual orientation the less anxiety, more positive affectivity, and greater self-esteem she reported. Degree of disclosure to family, gay and lesbian friends, straight friends, and co-workers was related to overall level of social support, with those who more widely disclosed reporting greater levels of support. Specifically, “being out” to friends, whether straight or lesbian/gay, was the best predictor of overall social support.
Respondents were most likely to have disclosed to lesbian and gay friends, followed by straight friends, family, and co-workers. Furthermore, those who more widely disclosed their sexual orientation were less likely to engage in anonymous socializing, had a larger percentage of lesbian friends, and were more involved in the gay and lesbian community. Path analyses revealed a mediating effect of social reaction (both initial and current) on the relation between identity development and self-disclosure.
Responses of couples in which both partners returned questionnaires were also examined. Women who more widely disclosed their sexual orientation expressed a greater degree of satisfaction with their relationship. A greater level of discrepancy within a couple regarding disclosure of sexual orientation (i.e., one partner is relatively more open about her sexual orientation) was related to a lower satisfaction with the relationship.
Kahn MJ (1989). Factors related to the coming out process for lesbians. PhD. Thesis, Texas Woman’s University, DAI, Vol. 51-07B, p. 3590, 275 pages.
Abstract by author: Cass’ model (1979) of homosexual identity development and her Stage Allocation Measure (1984) were assessed to determine their utility in describing the subjective experience of coming out as a lesbian and whether proposed stages could be tied to behavioral correlates of the Openness Questionnaire (Graham, Rawlings & Girten, 1985). Antecedent patterns of communication in the family, as measured by the Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire (Bray, Williamson & Malone, 1984); birth-order; and sex-role attitudes, as measured by the Attitudes Towards Women Scale, Short Form (Spence, Helmreich, & Stapp, 1973) were investigated to determine how they were related to the process of lesbian identity development. A pilot study of 81 lesbians was conducted, and 290 lesbians participated in a national study.
Results suggest that subjective identification of developmental stage and comfort with disclosure is congruent with actual disclosure. Four unique patterns of development were delineated by the number and ordering of stages of Cass’ model that respondents identified as relevant to their developmental process. Relevant stages, speed of development, stage attainment, ability to disclose, and attitudes towards women’s roles were linked to these patterns of development. Women who skipped early and middle stages of Cass’ model were most likely to achieve Identity Synthesis. Higher levels of Intergenerational Intimidation and Intergenerational Triangulation were significantly related to slower lesbian identity development and decreased disclosure. Intergenerational Intimacy also decreased the likelihood of disclosure, and it is suggested that the possible risk of losing important intimate relationships prevents disclosure.
Significant differences in family factors and attitudes towards women’s roles were found for various birth-order positions. Neither family dynamics or attitudes affected the rate of identity development or stage attainment for different birth-order positions. Cohort differences suggest that younger women who have grown up in a more liberal environment proceed through the developmental process more quickly regardless of their sex-role attitudes. Conversely, more repressive environments require that a woman hold more liberal attitudes to achieve the coming out process.
Kapac JS (1992). Chinese male homosexuality: sexual identity formation and gay organizational development in a contemporary Chinese population. PhD. Thesis, University of Toronto, DAI, Vol. 53-12A, p. 4380, 507 pages, ISBN: 0-315-73726-3.
Abstract by author: The thesis examines some cultural, historical and political elements in the development of homosexual identities and communal formations among contemporary Chinese men. The analysis derives in part from an anthropological exploration of various theoretical issues in the historical and social development of sexual identities, drawing upon these perspectives and upon fieldwork conducted with homosexual Chinese men in a North American setting. Various features of male gender and sexuality among contemporary Chinese populations and their relevance to an understanding of the development of a homosexual or gay consciousness among Chinese men are examined.
One part of the analysis is historical in nature, examining cultural patterns of male homosexual behaviour in nineteenth-century Chinese populations. It is argued that these older patterns express a fundamentally different cultural organization of gender and sexuality than contemporary realities. These older patterns are organized through definitions of gender which show little similarity to contemporary models of sexual orientation or types of desire differentiated on the basis of biological sex. It is also proposed that the widespread development of a homosexual or gay consciousness and identity among Chinese men is a fairly recent historical development. Various aspects of this proposal are examined through life histories conducted with homosexual men of Hong Kong and Malaysian backgrounds.
I argue that such men constitute a part of the “first generation” of gay-identified Chinese men, a generation whose political and organizational activities have led in the 1980’s to the emergence of a Chinese gay liberation movement in various regions. Developmental and organizational features of these social formations are also discussed.
Katz RE (1993). A study of sexual fluidity and self-concept: the shift from lesbian to heterosexual object choice. PhD. Thesis, The Wright Institute, DAI, Vol. 54-02B, p. 1077, 146 pages.
Abstract by author: By exploring a sample of women who defy simple categorization, this study challenges: (1) the prominent “fixed” paradigms of sexual identity and sexual orientation, (2) the traditional psychoanalytic pathologizing of lesbian experience, bisexuality, and shifts in sexual object choice, and (3) the essentialist thinking of homosexual studies. Each subject in the group of focus (n = 27), in the past, had identified as a lesbian and had been in a monogamous lesbian relationship for at least one year and was currently in a monogamous heterosexual relationship of at least one year’s duration. These “former lesbians” were compared to a group of women (n = 27) whose identity and behavior had been exclusively heterosexual and who were also in a monogamous heterosexual relationship of at least one year’s duration.
It was posited that past lesbian experience and identification would be related to certain positive personality traits. Specifically, it was hypothesized that the former lesbian group would score higher on the following variables: seven scales of the Adjective Check List (ACL) (Autonomy, Change, Self-Confidence, Personal Adjustment, Creative Personality, Masculine Attributes, Heterosexuality); masculinity and androgyny on the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ); self-esteem, relationship satisfaction, and sexual satisfaction on the WALMYR Assessment Scales (WAS); flexibility and variance in sexual orientation as measured by the Sexual Screening Questionnaire (SSQ). Results revealed differences on the ACL Personal Adjustment scale, in the opposite direction hypothesized.
As hypothesized, the two groups’ sexual orientations were significantly different in numerous ways. In addition, the groups differed on seven ACL scales tested on an exploratory basis. Results suggest that former lesbians are significantly different from exclusively heterosexual women in both personality style and sexual orientation: They are more unconventional, aggressive, and adventurous as well as more anxious and aware of conflict; they are also generally more bisexual. However, they are not different from exclusively heterosexual women in their self-esteem, relationship or sexual satisfaction, or attributes of masculinity or femininity. The discussion focuses on how and why former lesbians are both different and not different from exclusively heterosexual women—and from the lesbians of previous studies.
Kivel BD (1996). Lesbian/gay/bisexual youth, identity and leisure. Ed.D. Thesis, University of Georgia, DAI, Vol. 57-03A, p. 1322, 223 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to understand the role of leisure as a context for identity formation among young people, ages 18-23, who, during high school, self-identified as being lesbian/gay/bisexual. Leisure has been identified as one of several important contexts for identity formation among young people. The bulk of literature on adolescent identity formation, however, does not typically include the experiences of lesbian/gay/bisexual youth. At the same time, most of the research literature on lesbian/gay/bisexual youth focuses on the self-destructive behaviors in which they engage as a result of the isolation and concomitant homophobia they experience in their respective communities. Very little attention has been paid to examining the different contexts of development among this segment of the adolescent population. Another purpose of this study, then, is to broaden the mainstream discourse about adolescents and development and to begin to understand the role of leisure as a context for identity formation among lesbian/gay/bisexual youth.
Participants were chosen from a lesbian/gay/bisexual student group on a college campus in the southeastern United States. Four sampling strategies were used: stratified purposeful, criterion-based, convenience and snowball. Ten participants, five women, five men, including four youth of African-American descent, one young person of Chinese descent, one participant of Russian/middle eastern, Jewish descent, and four young people of European American descent were chosen for this study. The participants ranged in age from 19-23. Participants were interviewed on two separate occasions between April and September, 1995, and were asked to reflect, retrospectively, about their experiences of leisure and the ways in which leisure contexts helped them to negotiate their understanding of themselves, their relationships with others and with the world while in high school. The data were analyzed using narrative analysis and modified constant comparative analysis. Two chapters of findings were developed. Chapter 4 includes individual profiles with an analysis of the relationship between identity and leisure for each participant; and Chapter 5 includes a discussion about the findings in terms of categories.
The core category suggests that leisure is a context for developing personal identity among young people, between the ages of 18-23, who, during high school, self-identified as being lesbian/gay/bisexual. The two supporting categories suggest that for participants in this study leisure was experienced on a continuum of “doing and being” and the marginalization of lesbian/gay/bisexual youth influenced their identity and their choices within leisure contexts. This study focused on understanding leisure as a context for identity formation at the personal, individual level. Future studies should focus on examining this issue at the level of the individual and at the level of cultural ideology. The next step is to begin to understand how leisure contexts contribute to a hegemonic process which creates “insiders” and “outsiders.”
Knowlton SR (1992). Sexual orientation, sex role identity and men’s parental relationships. PhD. Thesis, Boston University, DAI, Vol. 53-03B, p. 1594, 98 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study is to describe the relationships between gay and straight men and their parents. It was hypothesized that gay men would have less mature parental relationships than straight men. It was further hypothesized that gay men’s sex role identities would be more stereotypically feminine than straight men’s. The interactions of sexual orientation and sex role identity in relation to parental relationship maturity were investigated. The sample consisted of thirty gay and thirty straight men, aged 23 to 41. The gay subjects were recruited through a local social and political organization and through friendship networks, while the straight subjects were recruited through White’s ongoing project on relational development and through friendship networks.
The two groups were matched for race, education, and occupational level. Sexual orientation was measured by self-identification and by the Kinsey scale. Sex role identity was measured along three dimensions: (1) Personality attributes, (2) Attitudes toward sex roles (along a continuum of feminist to stereotypical attitudes), and (3) Behaviors. Subjects were interviewed about their relationships with their parents, and relationship maturity was measured by rating these relationships as self-focussed, role-focussed or individuated-connected according to a rating scale developed by White and her colleagues. Group differences were tested by ANCOVA, and interactions were investigated with ANCOVAs and stepwise multiple regression analyses.
The gay cohort was found to have less mature relationships with both mothers and fathers than was the straight cohort, and it was concluded that this was because their homosexuality, as a characteristic viewed pejoratively by their parents, interfered with these relationships. Gay men were also found to have significantly more feminine sex role identities than were straight men on the personality and behavioral measures, and tended to have more feminist attitudes than straight men. More feminine sex role identity was associated with less mature parental relationships in the overall sample, so non-conformity to stereotypically masculine sex role, as well as homosexual orientation, was concluded to interfere with parent-child relationship maturity.
In general, it was concluded that non-conformity to social and parental expectations of conformity to stereotypically masculine sexual orientation and sex role identity made achievement of relationship maturity more difficult for gay men.
Lamaster SR (1991). Gay and lesbian youth: a study of the relationship between identity management and psychological adjustment. M.S.W. Thesis, California State University, Long Beach, MAI, Vol. 29-04, p. 586, 127 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between Gay and Lesbian youths’ identity management and psychological adjustment. A survey instrument was developed and distributed to various youth, support, and student groups in southern California. The sample consisted of 103 Gay and Lesbian youths age 18-23 years.
Major findings included a greater frequency of depressive symptoms for the Gay males and those youths recruited from Gay and Lesbian community services centers. For both sexes, parental acceptance along did not predict their comfortableness with being homosexual. For the males, predicting their comfortableness from parental acceptance was dependent on how important they considered their parents to be to their sense of self-worth. For Lesbians, their comfortableness was related to mother’s acceptance and importance. Finally, the Gay males and Lesbians who were most comfortable with their sexual orientation had higher levels of self-esteem.
Lansdale S (1996). The issue of choice for lesbians. PhD. Thesis, The Fielding Institute, DAI, Vol. 56-12B, p. 7079, 215 pages.
Abstract by author: This qualitative study examines the issue of choice for lesbians and contributes to the social constructionist/essentialist debate. Fifty-three self-identified lesbians responded to a flyer and 43 volunteered to participate in a telephone screening interview during which they indicated on a 7-point scale whether they perceived their lesbian identity to be a choice they made as an adult (7) or not a choice but an innate part of their identity (1). From this number, 19 choice and no choice participants completed in-depth interviews during which they explored significant events in their childhood, adolescence, and adulthood including their experience of identifying as a lesbian. The resulting data were deconstructed, reconstructed, and analyzed for the choice and no choice group separately and then compared.
Seven different pattern groupings emerged, 5 for the choice group and 2 for the no choice group. The choice group categories were (1) Heterosexual marriage crisis, (2) Critical factor, (3) Bisexuality, (4) Heterosexual role rejection, and (5) Adult discovery. The no choice categories were (1) Adult identification, and (2) Early identification. Even though there were sufficient data to support these pattern groupings, there was significant overlap between groupings as well. The choice and no choice comparison produced two observations, (1) The overlap in the choice and no choice experience indicates the fragile nature of the choice/no choice dichotomy which almost collapses under the diversity of lesbian experience, and (2) The distinction between the choice and no choice experience appears to support both the essentialist and social constructionist views. Both observations indicate the diversity and complexity of lesbian experience. The incidence of childhood emotional and/or sexual abuse was high for both groups indicating a possible link between lesbianism and childhood abuse.
Other issues which were examined in the comparison of the choice/no choice experience were: Difficulty/ease in accepting lesbian identity; Relationships with men/women; Political influences; Community influences; and Self-esteem.
Lester JS (1997). Power and marginality: the politics of writing about black or lesbian identity. PhD. Thesis, Yale University, DAI, Vol. 58-04A, p. 1341, 255 pages.
Abstract by author: Power and Marginality is an interdisciplinary, comparativist, and theoretical work concerned with the social production of knowledge about Black and/or lesbian identity through writing. I argue that contemporary use of the keywords “marginality”, “invisibility”, and “silence” are highly problematic when used to represent Black or lesbian identity, whether the terms are embraced as tools for radical possibility change, or whether they are repudiated. For through the use of these three keywords, “theoretical knowledge” and “experiential” knowledge are placed in binary opposition, reifying the very social constructs of dominance that the terms are employed to oppose. I map a methodology for using discursive space, time, and bodies in order to socially construct “positional knowledge(s)” from which we can represent Black and/or lesbian power rather than marginality, invisibility, or silence.
In Chapter One I engage the work of Audre Lorde, Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, Antonio Gramsci, Michel Foucault, George Chauncey, and Donna Haraway as I define the terms: “the discursive”; “hegemony”; “common sense”; and “keywords”. In Chapter Two I assess the ways in which the margins are theorized as a material place, similar to a ghetto, rather than as a discursive space. In that chapter I ask: what is the perceived danger for discourses of Black and/or lesbian marginality of claiming cultural theory? In Chapter Three I argue that the use of the terms “invisibility” and “silence” defines lesbian and/or Black identity as “invisible” when a white and/or heterosexual hegemonic presence refuses to “see” and as “silent” when it refuses to hear. In Chapter Four I argue that we must unite the binary of experiential and theoretical knowledges as “positional knowledge” by using the tool of discursive time in conjunction with overt representation of discursive spaces and bodies. Finally, in Chapter Five I “rewrite” the margins as a location of “positional power” through an interwoven reading of the theories of Audre Lorde, Michel Foucault, and James C. Scott.
Levine HS (1994). An exploration of a model of women’s sexual identity development. PhD. Thesis, Temple University, DAI, Vol. 55-04A, p. 869, 175 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of the present study is to explore the use of the Cass Homosexual Identity Formation model (1979b) and the Brady Self Identity Questionnaire (1983) in evaluating lesbian identity development. Participants are 118 women between the ages of 18 and 56, who either identify as lesbian or are questioning their sexual orientation. Participants were recruited through advertisements, lesbian organizations, and word of mouth.
Participants independently completed
the following materials: A 21-item demographic/background questionnaire,
developed by the researcher, which gathered demographic, self-labelling,
coming out and relationship information; the Stage Allocation Measure (SAM)
(Cass, 1979a), which is a self-assessment of HIF stage; the Self Identity
Questionnaire (SIQ) (Brady, 1983), which is a 45-item, true-false inventory
based on the SAM; the Attitudes Toward Lesbians Scale (ATLS) (Herek, 1988),
which is a 10-item assessment of feelings toward lesbians and homosexuality;
and the Tennessee Self Concept Scale (TSCS) (Fitts, 1964), which consists
of 100 self-descriptive statements assessing positive self-concept.
A significant, positive relationship was found between stage as assigned by the SAM (Cass, 1979a) and the SIQ (Brady, 1983). As expected, participants were found to differ by SIQ-assigned stage on self-esteem, identity, personality integration, degree of coming out, and relationship status. Also as predicted, no differences by stage were found according to race, education, occupation, or religious affiliation.
As predicted a significant rank-ordering was found of the following four developmental tasks: questioning sexuality, entering an intimate relationship with another woman, identifying as lesbian, and coming out. A factor analysis was also found to provide some support for the SIQ. Six factors, accounting for 50% of the SIQ’s variance, were extracted for varimax rotation. Five of the factors each reflect one—or two overlapping--stage(s), accounting for five of the HIF stages. Stage six is the only stage not reflected in a factor. The sixth factor reflects pre-stage one status. Although this sample represented only women in the final three HIF stages, the results provide some support for Cass’ model and the SIQ. To more fully understand the lesbian identity development process, research must be conducted which includes women along the entire development continuum.
Luhtanen RK (1995). Identity, stigma management and psychological well-being. PhD. Thesis, State University of New York at Buffalo, DAI, Vol. 56-10B, p. 5773, 97 pages.
Abstract by author: Previous research indicates that lesbians and gay men show self-esteem and psychological adjustment levels comparable to those of heterosexuals. However, retrospective reports and theoretical approaches suggest that some gays, particularly at initial stages of identity development, experience adjustment difficulties. The purpose of the present study was to investigate predictors of well-being among lesbians and gay men.
Based on theories of gay identity development (e.g., Cass, 1979, 1984b; Troiden, 1989), the following variables were included in the present study, in order to investigate their intercorrelations and their relationship to psychological well-being (namely, self-esteem, life-satisfaction, and lack of depression): involvement in the gay culture, commitment to gay identity, positivity of gay identity, rejection of negative stereotypes of gays and lesbians, perceived controllability of homosexuality, aspects of group identity (centrality of gay identity, perceived similarity to other gays and lesbians, and sense of common fate with other gays and lesbians), gay activism, and outness and passing.
A survey was developed and distributed in the Greater Buffalo area in the spring and summer of 1994, to which 169 females and 152 males responded. Correlational and multiple regression analyses, and structural equations modeling testing various models of well-being, indicated that most of the main variables were related in the predicted directions, and that positivity of gay identity (i.e., how good one feels about one’s sexual orientation), rejection of negative stereotypes, and gay activism were most directly predictive of psychological well-being. In turn, rejection of negative stereotypes and involvement in the gay culture both predicted positivity of gay identity.
Mahoney D (1994). Staying connected: the coming out stories of parents with a lesbian daughter or gay son. M.Sc. Thesis, University of Guelph, MAI, Vol. 33-04, p. 1157, 122 pages, ISBN: 0-315-94090-5.
Abstract by author: Institutionalized homophobia seriously impedes the process of a positive lesbian or gay identity formation. In anti-lesbian/gay contexts, mothers and fathers of lesbians and gay men are similarly faced with the challenge of reconstructing a positive image of themselves as parents. The present study documents the storied lives of a unique set of parents, those with a lesbian daughter or gay son who have been relatively successful in developing a positive, self-affirming identity of themselves as parents and of their adult son or daughter.
In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with five pioneer leaders from a support group called Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). The qualitative data analysis consisted of two parts: (1) theme analysis; and (2) writing four interpretive biographies. The findings indicate the complexity of the identity reconstruction process.
Merighi JR (1996). Coming out in black and white: an exploratory analysis. PhD. Thesis (Social Work), University of California, Berkeley, DAI, Vol. 57-08A, p. 3682, 242 pages.
Abstract by author: The lives of young gay males are shaped by a complex set of social and psychological factors that either facilitate or hamper the coming out process. While much of the literature on gay identity development has focused on retrospective accounts from lesbian and gay male adults, this study explored the intersection of race, sexuality, and coming out among African American and Caucasian gay male youth. Quantitative and qualitative research methods were used to examine the coming out process of 18 African American and 25 Caucasian gay males, ages 18 to 24.
Questionnaires were administered to collect demographic data and examine patterns of alcohol use. Psychological measures included the Gay Identity questionnaire to assess gay identity stage development, the Beck Depression Inventory to assess depression, and the Self-Esteem Rating Scale to assess self-esteem. Face-to-face, tape-recorded interviews were conducted to explore aspects of the coming out process in terms of race, alcohol use, and the importance of community programs, services, and role models. Both parametric and nonparametric statistical tests were used to compare group responses to study measures. Interview transcripts were coded thematically using grounded theory procedures in order to elucidate themes and theoretical categories.
Comparisons of African American and Caucasian gay male youth did not yield significant differences for self-report measures of gay identity, depression, self-esteem, and sexual orientation milestones. Further, no significant group differences resulted for frequency of alcohol use or heavy drinking during the past year or number of drinks per sitting. However, African Americans reported significantly fewer drinks to get drunk as compared to Caucasians. Analysis of transcript data resulted in “acceptance” as a primary theme in the coming out experiences of study respondents.
Both study cohorts reported alcohol use as a means to gain acceptance in the gay community, but only African American gay males reported difficulties of acceptance in both the African American and Caucasian gay communities. The findings of this exploratory study underscore the importance of examining gay issues from a cross-cultural perspective and have implications for social work practice with gay youth.
Meyer M (1993). The Wild(e) Body: camp theory, camp performance. PhD. Thesis, Northwestern University, DAI, Vol. 55-01A, p. 4696, 255 pages.
Abstract by author: "The Wild(e) Body" is a theorization of "Camp," or what has often been called gay parody. Against existing writings which define Camp as an apolitical, acritical, and aestheticized gay "sensibility," I argue that Camp is a specifically gay discourse, an embodied and performative mode of being-in-the-world by which one "knows" oneself as gay.
Accordingly, I argue that: (1) Camp is the total body of performative practices used to enact gay identity, with enactment defined as the production of social visibility. (2) Gay identity is performative, discontinuous, and processually constituted by repetitive and stylized acts marked by the deployment of specific signifying codes. Because the identity is constituted processually, then visibility always accompanies constitution. Because Camp is the production of gay visibility, then all gay identity performative expressions are circulated within the signifying system that is Camp. (3) Because gay identity is performative, the identity exists only as long as it is performed. In other words, gay identity is inseparable and indistinguishable from its processual enactment, Camp. (4) This model of identity constitution means that gay identity does not produce Camp, but rather the opposite, that Camp, not sexual activity, is the central point in gay identity production. (5) And because Camp signifies a performative and discontinuous Self, it constitutes an ontological challenge to and cultural critique of dominant epistemology by displacing bourgeois notions of the Self as unique, abiding, innate, and continuous.
The key foci of this argument are: the cultural narrative of the Homosexual "type" in the literature of nineteenth-century sexology; homoerotic representational strategies in the literary works and dandyism of Oscar Wilde (including a detailed analysis of his 1895 sex scandal trials); the social changes accompanying the refiguration of homosexual social identity instigated by the Kinsey report on male sexuality in the 1950s; and the Pop culture appropriation of Camp by Susan Sontag in the 1960s.
In conclusion, I offer a gay cultural critique of the phenomenon of heterosexuality. Treating homosexuality and heterosexuality as dependent terms, I argue that it is homosexuality (through the process of Camp) that undergirds contemporary society as both sustenance and subversion.
Morrow DF (1993). Lesbian identity development through group process: an exploration of coming out issues. PhD. Thesis, North Carolina State University, DAI, Vol. 54-02A, p. 428, 230 pages.
Abstract by author: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of an intervention designed to address the issues pertinent to coming out for lesbian women. The ten week intervention, the Coming Out Issues Group, was a quasi-experimental research design based on a cognitive-developmental and cognitive-behavioral theoretical approaches.
The impact of the intervention was assessed in four areas: ego development as measured by the Sentence Completion Test, lesbian identity development as measured by the Cass Model Stage Allocation Measure, empowerment as measured by the Lesbian Empowerment Scale, and coming out as measured by the Gay/Lesbian Orientation Disclosure Profile.
Using both the independent t test and the direct difference t test for hypotheses, results indicated cautious optimism for modest gains in ego development and lesbian identity development, and clear gains in empowerment and coming out. Also, correlational analyses indicated no significant relationship between ego development and lesbian identity development.
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