Gay and lesbian individuals often wait until moving away to college before they come out to their parents. Individuals who are rejected by their parents often report mental health concerns, whereas individuals who perceive sexuality-related support from their parents report higher self-esteem and improved well-being. However, researchers have conducted limited work in exploring the nature of sexuality-related support within the family. The purpose of this study was to explore how gay and lesbian college students created meaning out of their coming-out process to their parents. The study posed the following research question: What are the lived experiences of gay and lesbian college students who have experienced support from their parents during the coming-out process? Seven current gay and lesbian students who came during college were interviewed about their relationship with their parents before, during, and after their coming-out disclosure. Using a phenomenological analysis, 9 major themes were identified: awareness of feeling different, positive relationship prior to coming out, college impacting the coming-out process, feeling unsure of how parents would respond to disclosure, parents assuring continued love and acceptance, parents affirming identity, increased relational depth with parents, increased sense of authenticity, and an appreciation for family’s response and support. The findings provide insight into how counselors might work with gay and lesbian college students and their parents. Opportunities for future research and limitations are also discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Gender Studies
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)