The psychologist community in recent times has found out and has confirmed that Gay, Lesbian and Homosexuality are not a disorder but a form of sexual expression. Psychologists suggest that one of the important incidences in the life of LGBT is the coming experience. In fact , coming out is more a process than an experience and research has found out that same-sex couples who are openly gay are more satisfied in their relationships. For women who self-identify as lesbians, the more people know about her sexual orientation, the less anxiety, more positive affectivity, and greater self-esteem she has.
Today Psychologist Shivani Misri Sadhoo shares what is the coming out experience and what are the stages one possibly experiences in their coming out experience.
What is the 'coming out' experience of an LGBT person?
Coming out is a process of understanding, accepting, and valuing a person’s sexual identity. It involves both exploring a person’s own identity and it's impact with others. Coming out can be a gradual process or one that is very sudden. The first step usually involves coming out to yourself, often with a realization that feelings you’ve had for some time make sense if you can define them as gay, lesbian and bisexual.
What are the different stages of coming out?
1. Stage one is self-question: the person begins to wonder if they are homosexual or not. This stage is generally termed as the self-confusion stage.
2. Stage two is self-acceptance; the person starts to accept himself/herself that they have a special sexual expression. Unfortunately, later in this stage, there can be social isolation and disagreement and opposition from the family members after the person expresses his / her sexual orientation to them.
3. Stage three is the development of tolerance: the person’s acceptance of his or her homosexuality increases and he / she starts to tolerate all social and family oppositions. Good side in this stage is that the self-confusion and inner conflict stops and the person realizes that there are many more people in this world who think like them.
4. Stage four is reaching out to people who think and feel the same way. In this stage, the person starts to handle social and family oppositions more efficiently and they decide to reach out to people who feel the same way. They start to reach to LGBT community
5. In stage five, the person begins to feel pride in being part of the LGBT community and immerse themselves into LGBT culture. Gradually, in the later stage of feeling pride, the person integrates their sexual identity with other aspects of themselves so that it is just one part of their whole identity.
Note: while passing through the above stages if the person finds any difficulty to move to next stage they should reach out to LGBT community and should talk to people who have overcome these phases or they can consult any good counsellor who can help them to progress.