Title page for ETD etd-12192011-161043

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Lotter, Riandie
Email riandie@hotmail.com
URN etd-12192011-161043
Document Title Significant others’ experiences of the coming out process of a lesbian individual
Degree MEd
Department Educational Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Dr C Lubbe-De Beer Supervisor
  • coming out
  • lesbian
  • significant others
  • disclosure
  • emotions
  • experience
  • reactions
  • sexual orientation
  • system
  • acceptance
Date 2011-09-05
Availability unrestricted
This study aims to explore and describe the experiences of significant others during the coming out process of two lesbian individuals. The study gathered more detail regarding how various individuals experience the coming out process in the hope of contributing to the theoretical base of literature concerning lesbian studies in South Africa. The literature review provides a survey of the coming out process as well as a discussion regarding significant others (family and friends). Some factors and experiences involved in the coming out process are also discussed. The qualitative case study is approached from the interpretive paradigm and systems theory was utilised as a theoretical framework throughout the study. Data was generated primarily through unstructured interactive/in-depth interviews and secondarily through stories, field texts, photographs and a research diary. Six individuals participated in the research study, the two lesbian individuals and four significant others as identified by them - two mothers, a father and a close friend. The data analysis led to both commonalities in experiences and unique experiences identified by participants. The results of the study indicated that some form of suspicion or awareness was present in the significant others before the act of disclosure; emotional reactions from involved participants can be placed in a continuum ranging from positive to negative and the act of disclosure was viewed and experienced as both a crisis and as progressive by different participants. Various factors could influence the experience of the coming out process for significant others as well as the reactions to the act of disclosure. However more research is needed to investigate what these factors might be. Participants also mentioned various stages towards acceptance (individuals fall in a continuum and can move forward and backward). Both common and unique experiences were present and can assist others in understanding the coming out process from different perspectives.

© 2010, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Lotter, R 2010, Significant others’ experiences of the coming out process of a lesbian, MEd mini-dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-12192011-161043 / >


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