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Heterosexual identity development in heterosexual allies

26 July 2004


The purpose of this qualitative study is to generate a theory of heterosexual identity development derived from the lived experiences of heterosexuals who are allies of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community. The literature on sexual orientation and racial identity development is reviewed and the emerging theories on heterosexual identity development are presented. Using data collected from interviews with self-identified heterosexual persons who define themselves as allies of sexual minority community, grounded theory methodology is used to generate a theory of heterosexual identity development. Eight of the nine participants in this study demonstrated what the literature describes as an integrated heterosexual identity. The participants described a path of development that involved both individual and social processes. These eight participants felt motivated to develop and maintain their sexual orientation identity because it fit with their personal values and their social reference group's values about social justice and equality. The participants also demonstrated a multifaceted heterosexual identity development process that incorporated a variety of biopsychosocial influences and personal values. Directions for future research on heterosexual identity development are suggested.


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