The experience of homosexuals coming out to their parents.
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Background Coming out is a life-changing event as it plays a considerable part in homosexual identity formation (Willoughby et al, 2006). It has been found that relationships with parents are often challenged around the time of disclosure (Ryan et al, 2010). Although research regarding sexual orientation and disclosure of sexual identity has increased, there is an absence of studies which investigate the effects the disclosure has on relationships between children and parents over time (Savin-Williams, 2001). Aim This study aims to explore the experience of homosexuals coming out to their parents. Method Five homosexual participants who had disclosed their orientation to their parents were interviewed about their experience of coming out. The interviews were later analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results Five superordinate themes were found after the analysis; acceptance of own orientation, parent‟s understanding and knowledge of homosexuality, parent‟s reaction to the disclosure, how their relationships have changed or developed since coming out and overall support. Conclusions For the participants, the first step to disclosing their sexual orientation was to accept it themselves. Many felt compelled to hide their sexual identity from their parents due to the fear of a negative response. It was acknowledged that although the disclosure was difficult, it proved to be essential in allowing them to work towards being accepted. As a result of the experience, the majority of the participants now feel closer to their parents and regard them as being supportive of their homosexuality.
B.Sc. (Hons) Psychology
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