Navigating disclosure of sexual minority identity for men in socio-politically conservative areas

Joseph M. Currin, Randolph D. Hubach, Hunter J. Meyers, Kyle DeBoy, Zachary Giano, Denna L. Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Previous models of sexual minority orientation identity development have theorized disclosure of current orientation as important in accepting one’s sexual minority identity. Furthermore, research into disclosure of sexual orientation highlights positive outcomes for disclosure and negative outcomes for concealment of sexual minority identity. These models, however, fail to incorporate the socio-cultural context of the individual. Using a grounded theory approach, we conducted 40 interviews with individuals who identified with a sexual minority identity living in rural areas in Oklahoma, a primarily socio-politically conservative state in the U.S. Data collection continued until thematic saturation was reached. Three main themes were identified by participants in regards to navigating disclosure of sexual orientation: (1) assessment of consequences to disclosure; (2) situational disclosure of sexual orientation; and (3) disclosure of current sexual orientation. Rural sexual minority men navigate disclosing their sexual orientation by considering the socio-cultural environment where they live and the acceptance and/or rejection of important individuals in their lives. This consideration demonstrates the importance of considering disclosure as a step in sexual minority identity development, not actual disclosure of sexual minority identity. A preliminary model of navigating disclosure is proposed and implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-93
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2020


  • Acceptance
  • disclosure of sexual orientation
  • gay male identity development
  • rural gay men


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