Identity Development and Exploration AmongSexual Minority Adolescents: Examination of a Multidimensional Model

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Journal of Homosexuality



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Based on a multidimensional model of sexual identity development, the current study examined self-labeling, romantic, and sexual experiences among middle and late adolescent sexual minorities. Eighty-two youths between the ages of 14 and 21 were recruited from gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community centers and associated Internet groups. Differences between males and females and between middle and late adolescents were first examined. Males reported markedly different patterns of self-labeling and romantic experiences, relative to females, but few age differences emerged. Additionally, patterns of association between self-labeling and sexual or romantic experiences provided support for the multidimensional model of identity development and exploration. Finally, significant associations emerged between relationship experiences and relational competency, such that adolescents who described themselves as isolated from intimate interpersonal relationships reported less relational esteem and more relational depression than those who reported predominantly engaging in same-sex romantic relationships. In addition, alternative styles of engaging in interpersonal relationships (e.g., same-sex intimate friendships, heterosexual dating) also were also associated with increased relational competency.