A qualitative study of three families who had a male family member come out as gay was conducted in order to gain an in-depth understanding of the events leading up to coming out, the actual coming out event, and events following coming out. In particular, this study was conducted to gain more information about families that describe an overall positive experience of the coming out process, including common processes and familial characteristics. In total, individual interviews were conducted with seven participants: a brother and sister; a son, mother, and sister; and a son and mother. Interviews explored each individual's recollection of the coming out process and events following the coming out process that were related to addressing a family member's sexuality. Data analysis revealed five prominent themes for all three families: (a) coming out in stages, (b) types of responses to coming out, (c) expressions of acceptance, (d) cultural influences, and (e) exposure to homosexuality. Additionally, one theme, psychological distress, was salient for one family and became evident during the within-family analysis. The themes are discussed in relationship to current research. Clinical implications and implications for future research are also addressed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Gays -- Family relationships; Homosexuality -- Psychological aspects; Gay men

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

de Mayo, Robert R.;