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Steve Rouse and Seaver Students Publish Research on the Coming Out Narratives of LGBTQ+ Adults

Alongside two psychology students, Lauren Chu (’19) and Joshua Gash (’20), Steve Rouse, professor of psychology, recently published “It Gets Better: Themes of Redemption in the Coming Out Narratives of LGBTQ+ Adults” in the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research. The researchers sought to understand how the writers of coming out narratives describe the initial impact of their decision to come out and to what extent redemptive themes are present in these narratives.

The researchers analyzed 151 narratives by LGBTQ+ adults, acquired from the website Coming Out Space, an online repository where LGBTQ+ individuals can share their coming out stories. The study found that “individuals who disclosed their identity experience supportive responses from friends and family members more often than nonsupportive ones.” Many of the narratives also included one or more “redemptive sequences.” This indicates “the process of coming out appears to play a role in the movement from or through an unpleasant state of being to a more pleasant one.”

“To me, the most exciting aspect of this research was seeing that the majority of the writers of these coming out stories saw this decision as a positive turning point in their lives,” Rouse shares. “I don’t want to gloss over the painful reality that, for some people, the reactions of those in their social world were harsh and rejecting. But most of the people who wrote these narratives looked back on this decision as one that allowed them to either strengthen the relationships they already had––because now those relationships were based on authenticity––or to form new communities and new relationships with people who love them authentically.”

Steven V. Rouse is a professor of psychology with an emphasis on personality and psychological assessment. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in clinical/counseling psychology at Abilene Christian University before earning his PhD in personality research at the University of Minnesota. Professor Rouse has diverse research interests but is especially interested in personality characteristics related to a person’s religious beliefs and research on the statistical quality of personality tests.

To read the full publication, visit the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research website.