Lesbian Identity Development

Identity development is a central psychological task for all people. Each person’s identity is made up of the intersection of many dimensions of social location, as well as a unique individual personality, skills, and interests. In today’s society, gender and sexual orientation are two of the key components of identity. This entry defines the term lesbian and provides a brief history of the term. The changing psychosocial context is described, including long periods of widespread antigay attitudes that have had a powerful influence on lesbian identity development. The divergent ways of thinking about lesbian identity—essentialism and postmodern social construction—are explained. Next, the models of lesbian identity development available in the past 100 years are described: lesbianism as pathology, gay-affirmative stage theories, and theories of ...

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