Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

G. Tyler Lefevor


G. Tyler Lefevor


Sara M. Boghosian


Melanie Domenech Rodríguez


David M. Erekson


Renee V. Galliher


Sexual and gender minorities (SGMs; individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ and/or who do not identify as cisgender and heterosexual) often come out to others as a way to improve their connections, feel more authentic, and improve their mental health. However, coming out is often a frightening and stress-inducing process, and SGMs’ overall well-being may depend on how they approach these conversations and how others respond. In an effort to better understand these experiences and to provide a scientifically-validated “guide” to SGMs and those to whom they come out, we conducted three studies that examine when coming out goes well and how these factors relate to SGMs’ well-being.

The first study focused on interviews with SGMs who are or were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religion in which coming out conversations are sometimes met with rejection. Participants indicated what they did to feel better about their coming out conversations, as well as how others responded that made them feel more positive about the conversations. The second study utilized these themes to develop two scales (Coming Out Vigilance and Positive Coming Out Responses) so that we could measure the frequency with which SGMs employ these approaches and perceive these positive responses from others when coming out. The third study then used these two measures with SGMs across a variety of religious traditions (including no religious affiliation) to examine how these approaches and responses relate to SGMs’ well-being. We found that these two measures are appropriately valid to use and that both the identified approaches and responses to SGMs’ coming out relate to improvements in well-being. It is our hope that SGMs, their support systems, mental health practitioners, and community leaders utilize these findings to make coming out experiences less stressful and enhance the well-being of SGMs



Included in

Psychology Commons