Is coming out always a "good thing"? exploring the relations of autonomy support, outness, and wellness for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals

Nicole Legate, Richard M. Ryan, Netta Weinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations

Abstract

Prior research suggests that, on average, disclosing sexual identity (being "out") yields wellness benefits for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals. LGB individuals vary, however, both in how much they disclose their sexual orientation in different social contexts and in the experiences that follow from disclosure. The present research examines this within-person variation in disclosure and its consequences as a function of the autonomy supportive versus controlling character of social contexts. LGB individuals rated experiences of autonomy support and control in the contexts of family, friends, coworkers, school, and religious community, as well how "out" they were, and their context-specific self-esteem, depression, and anger. Findings from multilevel modeling revealed that LGB individuals were more likely to disclose in autonomy supportive contexts. Additionally, whereas disclosure was associated with more positive well-being in autonomy supportive contexts, in controlling contexts it was not. Practical and research implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-152
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Volume3
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Keywords

  • bisexual
  • coming out
  • gay
  • lesbian
  • self-determination theory

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