We help individuals that are coming out about one’s sexual orientation at different stages of the coming out process. In general, the coming out process begins with coming out to oneself and then involves coming out to others, such as family and friends, about one’s sexual orientation. It is important to emphasize that coming out often occurs consistently over time with different people at different stages of their life. The coming out process does not involve a linear process.
Vivienne Cass (1979) developed a Sexual Orientation Identity Development Model. Cass’ model described a person’s sexual orientation identity development as a process involving six stages. Even though these stages are subsequent, some people may revisit stages at various points in their lives. Cass’ stages include: Identity Confusion- the individual feels different from the mainstream but is in denial of his or her inner feelings. Identity Comparison- the individual starts to compare herself or himself to other non-heterosexual individuals and begins to think perhaps he or she is gay or lesbian. Identity Tolerance- the individual starts to accept the possibility that she or he is non-heterosexual because of an encounter with someone or something. Identity Acceptance- the individual explores subculture activities and readings and starts to come out to some people; but may continue to question if she or he is okay. Identity Pride- the individual has pride for his or her new identity; yet feels deep rage for the mainstream culture. Identity Synthesis- the individual believes he or she is a good person who happens to be non-heterosexual (LGBTQ) and is out with friends, at work, and with family.