Prior to being able to come out to friends, family and employers, an L, G, or B person must confront other people's assumptions that they are heterosexual. Similarly, the 'T' person must come out of the assumption that he or she is comfortable in the gender defined for them at birth (and that's usually the gender in which they present themselves.) In other words, we must come out to ourselves before we can come out to others.
There is a continuum of coming out to oneself, to family, to employers, and to others. In western cultures this usually occurs in six stages.2
Stage Two: Comparison Being able to accept that the person may actually BE gay; comparing oneself to other gay people.
Stage Three: Identity Tolerance Exploration of gay identity and the gay community. Often feels bad about being gay, but can't 'help' oneself.
Stage Four: Identity Acceptance Acceptance and comfort with self as a gay person. Often feels different from heterosexuals and hostile towards straight culture.
Stage Five: Identity Pride Occurs when the person immerse themselves in lesbian and gay community and culture to live out the identity totally. Arrogant pride and rejection of straight culture as the norm
Stage Six: Identity Synthesis Occurs when a person develop a fully internalized and integrated lesbian or gay identity and experiences themselves as whole when interacting with everyone across all environments.
From Cass, V.C., Homosexuality identity formation: a theoretical model. Journal of Homosexuality 4 (3), 219-235. (1979)
If you are L, G, B, or T you may be working through this process and be at any of these stages. You should share this with your health care provider. If necessary, print out this copy of the above section and give it to your provider.
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