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Sexual Orientation Identity Development

Sexual orientation identity development is the process by which individuals consciously acknowledge and internalize their sexual orientation. Sexual orientation refers to the directionality of an individual’s attraction emotionally, relationally, and sexually toward women, men, or both sexes. Sexual orientation identity is the sense of identification based on attraction and associated behaviors, as well as membership in a community of people who share similar affiliations. While sexual orientation is commonly conceptualized as discrete categories of heterosexual/straight (opposite-sex attraction), homosexual/gay (same-sex attraction), and bisexual (both opposite- and same-sex attraction), sexual orientation and sexual identity are far more fluid and complex than these categories suggest. Until recently, research on sexual identity and sexual orientation identity development has focused primarily on minority sexual orientation identities and development, contributing further ...

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