- Paperback: 232 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (September 21, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780789026903
- ISBN-13: 978-0789026903
- ASIN: 0789026902
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,302,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Coming Out and Disclosures: LGBT Persons Across the Life Span 1st Edition
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"...very useful as a supplemental text in a class focused on or including discussion relating to LGBT issues and would provide not only insight into one of the most difficult and impactful processes in the lives of LGBT individuals but also concrete techniques and approaches for use in counseling practice and advocacy. This book is highly recommended for students and practicioners alike."
-- The Family Journal, October 2008
About the Author
Ski Hunter, PhD, MSW, is a professor at the School of Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington. She teaches a course on LGBT issues, and has presented numerous workshops on this topic. Dr. Hunter has authored two books on midlife, including Midlife and Older LGBT Adults: Knowledge and Affirmative Practice for the Social Services. She was also the lead author of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youths and Adults published in 1998, co-author of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Social Work published in 2001, and lead author of Affirmative Practice: Understanding and Working with Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons.
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The introduction also helped to identify factors that determine if a person is more likely to discriminate against LGBT persons. Throughout adolescence they are socialized to discriminate. The factors include; being male, coming from families that are conservative, authoritative, traditional or religious, having a limited education, low empathy, certain coping styles, poor crisis management, bigoted peers, living in residential areas, and having no contact with LGBT persons.
The first chapter further explores sexual orientation and identity. Since it is highly individualized there is no clear model that clearly defines or categorizes ones sexual orientation. While orientation is stable, it is sexual identity which remains fluid. Identifying as gay or lesbian can be influenced by race, ethnicity, age, and sex/gender.
Coming out is the topic of the second chapter and refers to internal identity development of your sexual orientation. The author uses disclosure to indicate revealing identity to others. The chapter includes several models that can be used as a rough guide to explain the process. Although the models appear linear, there is no clear path of transition. Two models are presented in this chapter that have been empirically researched. They are the Sexual Identity Formation (Cass 1979) which includes six stages that deal with developmental changes in cognition, emotion, and, behavior and integrates social and psychological factors. The second model is the Inclusive Model of Sexual Minority Identity Development which deals with four phases that addresses individual and group identity transitions. When coming out as bisexual and transgendered there are different models that can be used.
The third chapter was especially necessary as it dealt with critiquing the coming out models. The models do not assume that all gays and lesbians go through these stages in a linear order, or that all complete all stages. Some may get locked into one stage and never progress. The models are also dated and did not include a large or random sample that included equal sex members, how disabilities or illnesses influenced their coming out, or how certain races and ethnicities affected their decision. Whether or not or how exactly you decide to come out also is specific to social context and historical issues. Overall, these models serve a rough guide and everyone has an individual experience.
The fourth chapter speculates that since same sex attractions predate puberty, most individuals report it is during this time they come out to themselves as they notice they are different from others. Other situations arise when coming out does not occur until later in life, such as marriage or discovering unexplored feelings.
The second part of the book dealt with disclosure. Stonewall has greatly influenced the ease of public disclosures. Prior to Stonewall disclosures were seen as a political movement and a stance to overcome oppression. Individuals then and now are still marginalized but the stigma is decreasing with time. The trend for youths to disclosure usually occurs after high school where public approval is usually greater. Those who wait till midlife or older to disclose usually do so because of the preference to keep it a secret and pass as heterosexual. There are also many situations in which disclosing are avoided because of extreme instances of discrimination and violence. Ultimately a difficult process, but disclosing can provide relief that they no longer have to lead double lives, or appear asexual.
Disclosing to families specifically was identified as one of the most difficult decisions a LGBT person had to make. The more independence children have from their parents the more risks decrease that are associated with disclosure.
Part three included two chapters that dealt with approaching clients who are coming out and want to disclose. It is key to not label individuals but take part in active listening as identity issues are worked out and explored. In these situations models can be helpful in providing an outline or rough guide for those in need of guidance and to help explore what they are going through. What I thought the models lacked however was they do not include issues that are particular to multicultural clients. Practitioners are primarily needed to assist clients in weighing the costs/benefits of coming out and choosing to disclose or not.
The final chapter deals with institutions that all LGBT individuals are a part of and must struggle to combat heterosexism at a structural issue. Public schools, college and workplaces. In order to feel more comfortable in these situations change must occur at the individual and societal level. I believe as more individuals come out and disclose their identity to the public, the more flooded society will become and their belief systems will change over time. A lot of prejudice after all is the result of misconceptions.
I personally believe that religion has a lot to do with how LGBT persons are viewed. I wish the book would have had a small section on how the prominent three view the issue, and also how technology has influenced the coming-out process.
Overall the book was very thorough and interesting. As a student of psychology it is definitely a good reference book.