Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name





Psychology, Social.




The purpose of this study was to investigate the kinds of variables involved in the coming out process of lesbians. These variables were used as predictors of disclosure and their relative predictive strengths were assessed. Data were gathered anonymously through a questionnaire survey. Questionnaires were distributed through friendship networks, feminist organizations, gay churches, women's bookstores and a university women's centre. In addition to questions about demographics, the questionnaire included measurements of certainty with regard to a lesbian identity, length of time required to establish a positive identity, extent of socialization with lesbians and gay males, political awareness/involvement, self-esteem, disclosure and disclosure-related fears and problems. A total of 305 women returned the questionnaire. All were living in Canada or the United States, most were white, most were relatively certain about their identity and relatively pleased with it. They varied considerably in age, income, education, and in the other measures listed above. Positive correlations were found between certainty of lesbianism, good feelings about lesbianism, and socialization with the lesbian/gay male subculture. A positive correlation was found between self-esteem and feelings about being a lesbian. Time required to establish a positive lesbian identity was negatively correlated with age of acquiring a lesbian identity, time period (year) of establishing a lesbian identity, and disclosure-related fears. Political awareness/involvement was the best predictor of all types of disclosure. High scorers disclosed more. The presence of disclosure-related problems was also a consistent predictor of the extent of disclosure. Other predictors varied in strength depending on target persons or situations. Self-esteem was not a predictor of disclosure. The study was useful in describing the pattern of variables involved in the coming out process. It served to emphasize the importance of political considerations both in lesbian identity formation and in disclosure.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1981 .E445. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 42-08, Section: B, page: 3494. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1981.