The Identity Formation of Gays and Lesbians
Category : Articles
This paper examines the gay, lesbian and bisexual communities’ struggles with identity issues.
This paper is an in-depth study of the topic of identity formation and how a non-traditional sexual orientation, such as being gay or lesbian, changes the development of one’s identity. The paper examines the complex process of choosing a non-traditional sexual orientation. This includes the detailing of the many stages that the individual must face, and the many years that are often involved in the search for one’s identity. The author looks at many different factors in society that affect the search for identity, including family life, friends, work and employment situations, age, environment and how they can have a negative or positive affect on the individual’s lifestyle choice. The role of the social worker in helping the person deal with the problems that the individual faces in both their personal and professional life is also examined in great detail.
“Considering general social and cultural attitudes about homosexuality, and the persistent view that the gay or lesbian identity is “abnormal”, social workers must always be aware that many parents of homosexual individuals will feel a degree of shame at producing and rearing a “faulty” homosexual child. This is closely linked to the pressure of societal attitudes and concern with how others perceive their parenting, resulting in many parents becoming labeled with a similar socially stigmatized identity to that of their homosexual child. The social worker’s role is to understand that many of these parents are likely to be concerned with feelings of guilt and self-blame, such as Where did I go wrong? or If I had done this differently, then … , rather than with attempting to understand and empathize with their child’s situation (Armesto, 2001). A great deal of this reaction is rooted in the family’s racial, ethnic, religious, or cultural backgrounds, which often increase the family’s anxiety and stigma with their disapproving and “sinful” view of gays and lesbians and the mythical beliefs that they promote as the causes of homosexuality. On the issue of self-acceptance, many studies indicate that it is the individual’s network of friends, rather than the family, that plays the most significant role in gay and lesbian identity formation, indicating that the empathic understanding and support that is offered by members of the same sexual minority group, who have walked the way, is a particularly influential and valued source of social support.”