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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Speaking up and speaking out: factors that facilitate the disclosure of sexual orientation Moody, Lin


This study explores the things that helped and hindered 12 gay men and lesbians when they disclosed their sexual orientation to others. The goal of this study was to develop a reasonably comprehensive categorical system that described these facilitating and hindering factors from the perspective of the gay men and lesbians participating in this study. The research method involved interviews with six gay men and six lesbians in Vancouver, British Columbia who were in a position to observe what things facilitated their own disclosure process. An expanded version of the Critical Incident Technique (Flanagan, 1954) was utilized to elicit 417 critical incidents from the 12 co-researchers. Thirty-three helping categories and 17 hindering categories emerged from an analysis of the reported incidents. The validity and reliability of all of the categories were backed up by several means including: (a) the use of an independent checker, (b) co-researcher's checking, (c) the existence of complementary helping and hindering categories, (d) theoretical agreement in the research literature, and (e) participation rate. The helping categories that emerged were as follows: (1) acceptance of the authentic self, (2) positive qualities of the disclosee or the relationship, (3) existence of a support network, (4) prediction of a supportive response, (5) conducive environment, (6) assumption that the disclosee already knew, (7) relationship status, (8) desire for more intimacy, (9) spirituality, (10) need to tell, (11) therapy, (12) previous positive disclosures, (13) seizing the moment, (14) access to information, (15) teachable moment, (16) geographical distance, (17) no big deal, (18) sexual deterrent, (19) disclosing by letter or phone, (20) alcohol, (21) other people already know, (22) third party influence, (23) feminist politics, (24) career identity and clout, (25) desire to help others, (26) humour, (27) testing the waters, (28) financial independence, (29) safety and comfort, (30) rehearsal, (31) leaving the church, (32) assumption of confidentiality, and (33) romantic intentions. This thesis also found a strong link between the helping categories elicited in this research study and the domains and thematic components of Ishiyama's (1989) Self- Validation Model. The findings of this study contribute to the field of counselling psychology by providing a list of things that facilitated and hindered the disclosure of 12 gay men's and lesbian's sexual orientation to others. This list could then be shared with clients who are dealing with this issue. The findings also suggest that Ishiyama's (1995) Validationgram might be a useful intervention for this clientele. Results of this study also support the existence of a gay and lesbian positive identity development process.

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