Going public: a study in the sociology of homosexual liberation

Journal of Homosexuality
J A Lee


The complete process of resolving and announcing one's sexual orientation as "homosexual" is analyzed into three stages: signification, coming out, and going public. Each stage is further subdivided into steps. Not everyone passes through every step, and most persons stop well short of going public. However, the general process is found to be the same for 24 persons (the author and 23 respondents), all of whom have reached the final stage. Management of self-presentation in this process is discussed, using Goffman's concepts for "spoiled identity" (stigma). The motivation for going public is analyzed, using C. W. Mills' "vocabularies of motives."


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