TTU Home Student Counseling CenterHandouts and Information

Handouts and Information

What is an Ally? | Developing a Common Language | Gay and Lesbian Identity Development | Heterosexual Questionaire
Heterosexual Privilege | Trans Definitions | Overview of the Transgender World
The Intersexed Condition | What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality | Choosing a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual-Affirming Therapist


Gay and Lesbian Identity Development

Identity Confusion:

  • "Could I be gay?" Denial and disownment.
    • Possible responses:
      • Avoids information about homosexuality; inhibits behavior; denies homosexuality ("experimenting", "an accident", "just a phase").
      • Men: keep emotional involvement separate from sexual contact.
      • Women: keep relationships non sexual, though strongly emotional.
  • Therapeutic Task:
    • Explore internal positive and negative judgments.
    • Be permitted to be uncertain regarding sexual identity.
    • Find support in knowing that sexual behavior occurs along a spectrum.
    • Receive permission and encouragement to explore several identity as a normal experience (like career identity, social identity).

Identity Comparison:

  • "Maybe this does apply to me." Accepts possibility that he or she may be gay/lesbian/bisexual.
    • Possible responses:
      • Begin to grieve for losses, the things he or she will give up by accepting an LGB identity.
      • Compartmentalizes own sexuality. Accepts "homosexual" definition of behavior but maintains "heterosexual" identity of self.
      • Tells oneself: "It's only temporary"; "I'm just in love with this particular man/woman", etc.
  • Therapeutic Task:
    • Very important that the person develops own definitions.
    • Need information about sexual identity, gay, lesbian, and bisexual community resources.
    • Need encouragement to talk about the loss of heterosexual life-expectations.

Identity Tolerance:

  • "I'm not the only one." Accepts probability of being homosexual and recognizes sexual, social, and emotional needs that go with being gay/lesbian/bisexual.
    • Possible responses:
      • Beginning to have language to talk and think about the issue.
      • Recognition that being gay or lesbian does not preclude other options.
      • Accentuates differences between self and heterosexuals.
      • Seeks out lesbian, gay, bisexual community (positive contact leads to more positive sense of self; negative contact leads to devaluation of the culture). May try out variety of stereotypic roles.
  • Therapeutic Task:
    • Be supportive in exploring client's own shame feelings derived from heterosexism, as well as external heterosexism.
    • Give support in finding positive gay and lesbian community connections.
    • It is particularly important for the counselor to know of community resources.

Identity Acceptance:

  • "I will be OK." Accepts, rather than tolerates, LGB self-image and there is continuing and increased contact with the LGB community.
    • Possible responses:
      • Accepts an LGB self-identification. May compartmentalize "LGB life".
      • Maintains less and less contact with heterosexual community.
      • Attempts to "fit in" and "not make waves" within the LGB community.
      • Begins some selective disclosures of sexual identity.
      • More social coming-out; more comfortable being seen with groups of men or women who are identified as LGB.
      • More realistic evaluation of various situations (job, etc.).
  • Therapeutic Task:
    • Continue exploring grief and loss of heterosexual life expectations.
    • Continue exploring internalized "homophobia" (learned shame from heterosexist society).
    • Find support in making decisions about where, when, and to whom he or she self-discloses.

Identity Pride:

  • "I've got to let people know who I am!" Immerses self in LGB community. Less and less involvement with heterosexual community. "Us vs. Them" quality to political and social viewpoints.
    • Possible responses:
      • Splits world into LGB (good) and "straight" (bad).
      • Experiences disclosure crises with heterosexuals as she or he is less willing to "blend in" or "pass."
      • Identifies LGB community as sole source of support; all LGB friends, business connections, social connections.
  • Therapeutic Task:
    • Receive support for exploring anger issues.
    • Find support for exploring issues of homosexism and heterosexism.
    • Develop skills for coping with reactions and responses to disclosure of sexual identity. Resists being defensive.

Identity Synthesis:

  • Develops holistic view of self. Defines self in more complete fashion, not just in terms of sexual orientation.
    • Possible responses:
      • Continue to be angry at heterosexism, but with decreased intensity.
      • Allows trust of others to increase and build.
      • GLB identity is integrated with all aspects of "self".
      • Feels alright to move out into the community and not simply define space according to sexual orientation.
  • Therapeutic Task:
    • Continue to affirm and support client progress and positive identity development.
    • Explore other facets of identity and their interaction with gay/lesbian/bisexual identity.
    • Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality