Social psychological aspects of gay identity development

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This article focuses upon the social psychological aspects of identity development among gay men. Key stage-based models of, and contemporary empirical research into, gay identity development are outlined. Three levels of sexual identity development are examined: the psychological, the interpersonal and the collective. It is argued that, in order to develop an effective theory of gay identity development, empirical research should focus upon these levels of analysis, acknowledging that there is a dynamic interplay between them; the multiplicity of identity itself (consisting of sometimes competing elements); and the motives that underpin the construction, management and protection of identity (principally self-esteem, self-efficacy, continuity, positive distinctiveness and belongingness). Identity process theory is proposed as a useful theoretical framework for doing so.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101469
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2022


  • Gay identity
  • Identity development
  • Coming out
  • Stage-based models
  • Identity process theory


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