Social identity transitioning in the context of LGBTQ close relationships
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Available research demonstrates that familial relationships (Walsh, 2003), including parent-child relationships (LaSala, 2010), are vulnerable after a child’s disclosure of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) identity. In addition to experiences of minority stress resulting from possessing a minority identity (cf. Meyer & Frost, 2013), rejection from parents can increase negative health outcomes for LGBTQ individuals (cf. Ryan, Huebner, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2009). This dissertation addresses these growing concerns by examining the process of disclosure, i.e. “coming out,” as one of transitioning from a privileged to a marginalized social identity in the context of close relationships. The process is called social identity transitioning (SIT), a term created by the author. This three paper dissertation begins with a review of past definitions of LGBTQ identities within empirical research and a review of literature on identity transitions and LGBTQ relationship research. The first paper in the dissertation outlines the SIT theoretical concept. The second paper applies the concept through a grounded theory study on parent-adult child relationships before, during, and after a child’s disclosure of an LGBTQ identity to their parent(s). The third paper applies the concept through a contrapuntal analysis of cultural discourses identified in parent and LGBTQ child language use. These papers are followed by a summary of their findings and a discussion of implications for social work policy, research, education, and practice. The dissertation ends with an invitation for social science researchers and educators to make use of the social identity transitioning concept.