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Support Is Key to 'Coming Out' Process for Gay People: Study
Date:6/20/2011

ster in a news release. In more judgmental contexts, "those who come out may actually feel no better than those who conceal," said Legate.

The researchers noted participants most often kept their sexual orientation hidden in environments they described as controlling and judgmental. In fact, 69 percent of those interviewed still remained "in the closet" within their religious communities. Half of those questioned kept their sexual orientation a secret at school, 45 percent hid it from co-workers and 36 percent did not reveal their sexual orientation to their families.

"The vast majority of gay people are not out in every setting," said Ryan. "People are reading their environment and determining whether it is safe or not."

Among the most accepting groups for the gays, lesbians and bisexuals polled: friends. The vast majority, or 87 percent, reported feeling significantly less anger and greater self-esteem with friends than with any other group.

The study, published June 20 in Social Psychology and Personality Science, noted that "coming out" in some settings but not others has no effect on a person's mental health. The findings also stress the importance of creating environments that are accepting of all people, particularly gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals, concluded Ryan.

More information

The American Psychological Association offers insight into coming out and why it's important.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: The University of Rochester, news release, June 20, 2011.


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