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Influence of media on gay and bisexual identity formation

1 January 2016


Early disclosure of sexual orientation is a risk factor for suicidal behaviors among gay and bisexual (GB) males. It is possible that increasing visibility and accessibility of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) role models and resources accelerate early stages of GB identity formation, such that GB males are coming out at increasingly young ages. It was hypothesized that younger GB males would report a greater influence of LGB media on their GB identity formation and that greater exposure to and influence of LGB media would predict earlier ages of coming out. A sample of 52 adult GB male participants completed a survey assessing their consumption of LGB media, timing of coming out milestones, and aspects of their GB identity. Surprisingly, results suggested that GB males who perceive LGB media as a significant influence on their GB identity formation are likely to come out at later ages. It is possible that harmful, highly stereotyped representations of LGB individuals in the media may increase GB males’ desire to conceal their sexual orientations and delay the coming out process. Recommendations for clinical work and advocacy are provided.


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