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Presentation

Abstract

Exploring the Effects of Disclosing Versus Concealing Sexual Identity on Self-Esteem

Purpose: Existing literature suggests that identity disclosure can be a double-edge sword for LGBT individuals (Clausell & Roisman, 2009). These individuals are often left with the choice of concealing their identity, which is associated with shame and lower self-esteem (Corrigan & Matthews, 2003), or coming out and risking discrimination and victimization. This exploratory study investigates whether it is better for an LGBT individuals’ self-esteem to conceal their identity, or disclose it in spite of the increased risk for discrimination and victimization (Legate, Ryan, & Weinstein, 2012).

Method: A total of 730 sexual minority individuals between 18 and 91 (M= 30.10, SD = 13.83) were recruited nationally from university affiliated LGBT groups, LGBT community organizations, and social networking websites (i.e., Facebook). Prior to analyzing data regarding our primary hypothesis, we explored bivariate correlations between identity concealment, victimization, and discrimination, and self-esteem. To answer our question about whether it is better to conceal or disclosure one’s identity, we used hierarchical multiple regression to explore the association between outness and self-esteem after accounting for age and gender in block one, and victimization and discrimination in block two; we entered outness in block three.

Originality: This was the first known study to consider whether disclosing a sexual minority identity is a positive predictor of self-esteem despite the increased risk of victimization and discrimination.

Significance: The results of this study suggest that after accounting for discrimination and victimization, outness accounted for a larger proportion of variance in a positive direction. Despite disclosure putting individuals at risk for victimization and discrimination, which decreases self-esteem, outness appears to have an overall positive effect on self-esteem, which may counter discrimination/victimization effects. This adds insight by illustrating the relative importance of identity disclosure. Clinical implications will be discussed.

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Social Sciences

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Apr 11th, 10:00 AM Apr 11th, 10:20 AM

Exploring the Effects of Disclosing Versus Concealing Sexual Identity on Self-Esteem

Exploring the Effects of Disclosing Versus Concealing Sexual Identity on Self-Esteem

Purpose: Existing literature suggests that identity disclosure can be a double-edge sword for LGBT individuals (Clausell & Roisman, 2009). These individuals are often left with the choice of concealing their identity, which is associated with shame and lower self-esteem (Corrigan & Matthews, 2003), or coming out and risking discrimination and victimization. This exploratory study investigates whether it is better for an LGBT individuals’ self-esteem to conceal their identity, or disclose it in spite of the increased risk for discrimination and victimization (Legate, Ryan, & Weinstein, 2012).

Method: A total of 730 sexual minority individuals between 18 and 91 (M= 30.10, SD = 13.83) were recruited nationally from university affiliated LGBT groups, LGBT community organizations, and social networking websites (i.e., Facebook). Prior to analyzing data regarding our primary hypothesis, we explored bivariate correlations between identity concealment, victimization, and discrimination, and self-esteem. To answer our question about whether it is better to conceal or disclosure one’s identity, we used hierarchical multiple regression to explore the association between outness and self-esteem after accounting for age and gender in block one, and victimization and discrimination in block two; we entered outness in block three.

Originality: This was the first known study to consider whether disclosing a sexual minority identity is a positive predictor of self-esteem despite the increased risk of victimization and discrimination.

Significance: The results of this study suggest that after accounting for discrimination and victimization, outness accounted for a larger proportion of variance in a positive direction. Despite disclosure putting individuals at risk for victimization and discrimination, which decreases self-esteem, outness appears to have an overall positive effect on self-esteem, which may counter discrimination/victimization effects. This adds insight by illustrating the relative importance of identity disclosure. Clinical implications will be discussed.