Changes in coming out milestones across five age cohorts

Andy Dunlap, Elizabethtown College


This quantitative study examined differences in the coming-out process between self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) participants in five age cohorts. An Internet survey and convenience sampling strategy was used to recruit 1,131 participants (ages 18 to 85). Participants provided demographic information and information about their home environment growing up, completed the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identity Scale (LGBIS) (Mohr & Fassinger, 2000), and shared ages that they achieved important milestones in the coming-out process. ANCOVA of differences between men and women in the five cohorts on the age that significant milestones were achieved resulted in significant findings for all comparisons (p <.001). In post hoc analysis, 52% of the 450 pairwise comparisons were significant at at least the.05 level. Generally speaking, two significant trends were found in this sample: (a) that the average age of achieving milestones has decreased over time; and (b) that a gender gap in the age of achieving milestones between men and women has disappeared. The current study supports and extends research that suggests a strong connection between social acceptance of LGB people and coming out at younger ages.