Resiliency among lesbian and bisexual women during the process of self -acceptance and disclosure of their sexual orientation

Colleen Jeanette Gregory, University of Rhode Island


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between the coming out process of lesbian and bisexual women and a positive dimension of mental health, resiliency. A large diverse national sample was obtained for this empirical study, consisting of 420 women who self-identified as lesbian, bisexual, or as questioning if they might be a lesbian or bisexual woman. It was predicted that resiliency is positively correlated with stage/degree of homosexual identity formation, the youthfulness of out lesbian/bisexual women, the length of time women have been self-disclosed as gay, and degree of being out. Resilience was operationally defined by measures of self-efficacy specific to coming out, general self-efficacy, general coping abilities, and dispositional optimism. Two additional questions were asked of each participant to explore her experience of coming out of the closet. Participants were asked about their actual versus desired level of outness, and were asked open-ended questions about their specific reasons for self-disclosing or concealing their sexual orientation. As a result of the number of women who identified themselves as bisexual (twenty-five percent) it was also possible to compare lesbian and bisexual women on several measures. Results of this study partially supported the four hypotheses. Additional analyses indicated that both lesbian and bisexual women reported being significantly less out now than they would like to be, but that the lesbian women's actual level of outness and desired level of outness were significantly greater than the bisexual women's current and desired levels of outness. Qualitative analyses revealed that although the women in this study “anticipated” substantially more negative than positive consequences of coming-out, they actually “experienced” many more positive than negative consequences following the disclosure of their sexual orientation. These findings suggest: that there is a substantial relationship between resiliency and the coming out process; that the effects of negative consequences of disclosure may be mitigated by the greater frequency of positive consequences; and that there are substantial differences during the coming out process between lesbian and bisexual women. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Behavioral|Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical|Psychology, Personality

Recommended Citation

Colleen Jeanette Gregory, "Resiliency among lesbian and bisexual women during the process of self -acceptance and disclosure of their sexual orientation" (1998). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI9920538.