“I Come Out Because I Love You”: Positive Coming Out Experiences Among Latter-day Saint Sexual and Gender Minorities

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Review of Religious Research




Springer New York LLC

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Background Coming out conversations are pivotal and stressful experiences for sexual and gender minorities (SGMs). Coming out can lead to more affirmation, safety, confidence, and improved relationships. However, adverse coming out experiences can lead to damaged relationships and ostracization, which may be more likely in conservative religious contexts. Purpose The purpose of the current study was to explore what leads to positive coming out experiences for SGM members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Method A sample of 25 current or former Latter-day Saint (LDS) SGMs participated in semi-structured interviews, which were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results Participants reported five actions they did that contributed to a beneficial coming out experience: being selective, increasing self-understanding and acceptance, preparing before, decreasing pressure on self, and validating the relationship with the person they came out to. Participants further reported six responses from others that contributed to a beneficial coming out experience: showing loving acceptance, utilizing empathic listening skills, offering and expressing support, celebrating, affirming that the relationship is not changed, and advocating. Conclusions and Implications The present study extends current knowledge on coming out experiences by demonstrating specific beneficial approaches and responses to coming out. Given participants’ lack of focus on religiousness in their reports, these findings may be applicable to both religious and nonreligious SGMs. Our findings extend current knowledge on coming out experiences by demonstrating that both SGM approaches and others’ responses are critical to creating a more positive coming out conversation. Future research is needed to understand the efficacy and effects of these coming out approaches and responses.