Stage Descriptions of Lesbian and Gay Identity Development
Pre-Stage 1You believe you are a heterosexual and never question this. You rarely, if ever, wonder "Am I a homosexual?" You do not believe that homosexuality has anything to do with you personally
Stage 1You are not sure who you are. You are confused about what sort of person you are and where your life is going. You ask yourself the questions "Who am I?," "Am I a homosexual?," "Am I really a heterosexual?." You sometimes feel, think, or act in a homosexual way, but would rarely, if ever, tell anyone about this. You're fairly sure that homosexuality has something to do with you personally.
Stage 2You feel that you are probably lesbian or gay, although you're not definately sure. You realize that this makes you different from other people and you feel distant or cut off from them. You may like being different or you may dislike it and feel very alone. You feel you would like to talk to someone about "feeling different." You are beginning to think that it might help to meet other lesbains or gay men, but you're not sure whether you really want to or not. You don't want to tell anyone about the fact that you might be lesbian or gay, and prefer to put on a front of being completely heterosexual.
Stage 3You feel sure you're lesbian or gay and you put up with, or tolerate this. You see yourself as lesbian or gay for NOW but are not sure about how you will be in the future. You are not happy about other peoeple knowing about your homosexuality and usually take care to put across a heterosexual image. You worry about other people's reactions to you. You sometimes mix socially with lesbians and gay men, or would like to do this. You feel a need to meet others like yourself.
Stage 4You are quite sure you are lesbian or gay and accept this fairly happily. You are prepared to tell a few people abnout being lesbian or gay (such as family, friends, etc.) but you carefully select whom you will tell. You feel that other people can be influential in making trouble for lesbians and gay men and so you try to adopt an attitude of getting on with your life like anyone else, and fitting in where you live and work. You can't see any point in confronting people with your homosexuality if it's going to embarrass all concerned. A lot of the time you mix socially with other lesbians and gay men.
Stage 5You feel proud to be a lesbian or gay man and enjoy living as one. You like reading books and magazines about lesbians and gay men, particularly if they portray them in a good light. You are prepared to tell many people about being lesbian or gay and make no attempt to hide this fact. You prefer not to mix socially with heterosexuals because they usually hold anti-gay or lesbian attitudes. You get angry at the way heterosexuals talk about and treat lesbians and gay men and often openly stand up for lesbians and gay man. You are happy to wear badges that bear slogans such as "How dare you presume I'm heterosexual?" You believe that it is more important to listen to the opinions of lesbians and gay men than heterosexuals.
Stage 6You are prepared to tell anyone that you a lesbian or gay man. You are happy about the way you are but feel that being a lesbian or gay man is not the most important part of you. You mix socially with fairly equal numbers of lesbians/gay men and heterosexuals and with all of these you are fairly open about your sexual orientation. You still get angry at the way lesbians and gay men are treated, but not as much as you once did. You believe there are many heterosexuals that happily accpet lesbians and gay men and whose opinions are worth listening to. There are some things about a heterosexual way of life that seem worthwhile.

Taken from: Cass, V.C. (1984). Homosexual identity formation: Testing a theoretical model. The Journal of Sex Research. 20, 143-167

Page last updated 11/11/1999 by Sam Colwell