Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The purpose of the research is to investigate an aspect of homosexual experience referred to as "coming out", specifically disclosure of sexual-orientation by homosexual males to their parents. Self-disclosure of sexual orientation is examined in relationship to amount of general self-disclosure subjects engaged in with their parents (as measured by the Jourard Self-disclosure Questionnaire, JSDQ), and subjects' attitudes toward homosexuality (as measured by the Index of Homophobia). The relationship between the amount of general self-disclosure and personality traits (as measured by the Sixteen Personality Questionnaire, 16PF) is also examined. Finally, the homosexual sample is compared to the 16PF normative population to determine if there are consistent personality trait differences for homosexual males. One hundred and two homosexual males, ages 18 to 58, volunteered to participate as subjects. They were obtained through a local gay bar, gay organizations, and a friendship network. Of the total sample 30 subjects met the criteria established for the self-disclosing group and 30 subjects for the nondisclosing group. These subjects disclosed (or withheld) their sexual orientation to both parents. First, results indicate that homosexual males who disclosed their sexual orientation to their mothers and fathers were more self-disclosing about other areas of their lives than homosexual men who did not disclose their sexual orientation. Additionally, homosexual males disclosed more about themselves to their mother than to their father. Secondly, homosexual males who self-disclosed their sexual orientation to their parents did not have significantly different attitudes toward homosexuality than individuals who did not self-disclose. This suggests that homosexual men can hold positive attitudes toward homosexuality even if they withhold their orientation from their parents. It was also found that the JSDQ correlates with a cluster of 16PF personality traits which form the second-order Factor I (Extraversion). Finally, it was found that the homosexual sample differs from the 16PF normative population on twelve first-order personality traits. Based on second-order factors, the homosexual sample is mildly anxious in comparison to the general population and thus more likely to experience somewhat more discomfort when under stress. Areas for further study are examined.