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Abstract

Prior research on self-disclosure of sexual orientation has focused almost exclusively on the assessment of direct verbal self-declaration by gay men, lesbians and bisexual persons. The Behavioral Self-Disclosure Questionnaire (BDQ) was developed to assess behavioral language in the “being out” process. One hundred seventy-seven participants completed the BDQ, the Sexual Orientation Disclosure Scale (SODS; Shachar and Gilbert, 1983), and a modification of the SODS, entitled the Acceptance of Sexual Orientation Disclosure Scale (ASODS). Results indicated that the BDQ was comprised of six factors and the overall scale had excellent internal consistency. Pearson Product-Moment Correlations showed a significant and positive correlation between the BDQ and verbal disclosure as assessed by the SODS.

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The present study investigated relations between lesbians' disclosure of their sexual orientation and psychological adjustment. The 499 participants responded to a questionnaire assessing level of self-disclosure, sources of social support, forms of socializing, self-description of sexual orientation, and length of self-identification as a lesbian. The more widely a woman disclosed her sexual orientation the less anxiety, more positive affectivity, and greater self-esteem she reported. Degree of disclosure to family, gay and lesbian friends, straight friends, and co-workers was related to overall level of social support, with those who more widely disclosed reporting greater levels of support. Participants who more widely disclosed their sexual orientation were less likely to engage in anonymous socializing, had a larger percentage of lesbian friends, and were more involved in the gay and lesbian community. Path analyses revealed a mediating effect of social reactions (both initial and current) on the relation between identity development and self-disclosure.
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