The experience of disclosure of queer identity within sibling dyads

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marriage and Family Therapy


Linda Stone Fish


Queer identity, Disclosure, Sibling, Gay, Lesbian

Subject Categories

Gender and Sexuality | Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling | Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology | Sociology


Current research indicates that queer people come out to family members more often and at a younger age than ever before. Thus disclosure is increasingly a family process with profound interpersonal, psychological and social ramifications for the entire system. However, little existing research examines the issue of queer identity from a relational perspective and even fewer focus on sibling relationships. This exploratory, qualitative study, guided by phenomenology examined data gathered in sibling interviews where one sibling disclosed minority sexual identity to the other at least 1 year prior to the study. Ten sibling dyads (20 participants) were interviewed together in semi-structured interviews for the purpose of exploring participant's experience of the disclosure process with specific emphasis on the sibling relationship. Results supported previous research about family disclosure experience and expanded to this literature by including sibling relationship. Data analysis also revealed essential structures which underlay the disclosure experience, including predisclosure relational contest, the disclosure event itself, early experience of disclosure and long term experience. Implications for clinicians working with queer people and their families are discussed as are suggestions for future research.


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