Resiliency among lesbian and bisexual women during the process of self-acceptance and disclosure of their sexual orientation

1998 1998

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Abstract (summary)

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between the coming out process of lesbian and bisexual women and a positive dimension of mental health, resiliency. A large diverse national sample was obtained for this empirical study, consisting of 420 women who self-identified as lesbian, bisexual, or as questioning if they might be a lesbian or bisexual woman. It was predicted that resiliency is positively correlated with stage/degree of homosexual identity formation, the youthfulness of out lesbian/bisexual women, the length of time women have been self-disclosed as gay, and degree of being out. Resilience was operationally defined by measures of self-efficacy specific to coming out, general self-efficacy, general coping abilities, and dispositional optimism. Two additional questions were asked of each participant to explore her experience of coming out of the closet. Participants were asked about their actual versus desired level of outness, and were asked open-ended questions about their specific reasons for self-disclosing or concealing their sexual orientation. As a result of the number of women who identified themselves as bisexual (twenty-five percent) it was also possible to compare lesbian and bisexual women on several measures. Results of this study partially supported the four hypotheses. Additional analyses indicated that both lesbian and bisexual women reported being significantly less out now than they would like to be, but that the lesbian women's actual level of outness and desired level of outness were significantly greater than the bisexual women's current and desired levels of outness. Qualitative analyses revealed that although the women in this study “anticipated” substantially more negative than positive consequences of coming-out, they actually “experienced” many more positive than negative consequences following the disclosure of their sexual orientation. These findings suggest: that there is a substantial relationship between resiliency and the coming out process; that the effects of negative consequences of disclosure may be mitigated by the greater frequency of positive consequences; and that there are substantial differences during the coming out process between lesbian and bisexual women.

Indexing (details)

Social psychology;
Behaviorial sciences;
0622: Psychotherapy
0451: Social psychology
0384: Behaviorial sciences
0625: Personality
Identifier / keyword
Psychology; Bisexual; Disclosure; Lesbian; Resiliency; Self-acceptance; Sexual orientation
Resiliency among lesbian and bisexual women during the process of self-acceptance and disclosure of their sexual orientation
Gregory, Colleen Jeanette
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-B 60/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780599196902, 0599196904
Lott, Bernice
University of Rhode Island
University location
United States -- Rhode Island
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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