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Ph.D Psychology (August 2009)
Department of Psychology


This study described the processes of self-identification, disclosure of sexual identity, and social identity development among Filipino young adult homosexuals. More specifically, the study examined the factors relevant to Filipino young adult homosexuals in their self-identification as gay, including their experience of disclosure of sexual identity, and the extent to which stigma or discrimination was experienced. Since the study is anchored on Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory (SIT) and Turner’s Self-Categorization Theory, the study also explored how Filipino young adult homosexuals undertake the processes of in-group identification and out-group derogation, and how these variables are related to their self-disclosure (as gay). In turn, the relationships between these variables and stigma were also determined. Finally, the study assessed how Filipino young adult homosexuals achieved positive social identity, considering the social stigma associated with being gay.

A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods was employed. A total of 163 young adult male homosexuals (ages 15 to 24) comprised the sample base. A five-part questionnaire was devised, parts of which were either adapted from foreign scales or constructed by the researcher. Interviews were also conducted to support the findings from the questionnaire.

Results showed that the mean age of self-identification (as gay) was around 11 years old, and a predominance of feminine interests prevailed prior to this. Filipino young adult homosexuals were also predominantly closer to their mother; moreover, even after having self-identified, many would continually deny being gay until they learn to be comfortable with being one. Self acceptance is followed by a drive toward gaining social acceptance from significant others. Approval from parents has the most impact on the development of a positive homosexual identity.

Disclosure of sexual identity was described as a difficult process, and 55% of the respondents have not openly admitted being gay to any of their parents. Between the parents, the mother is the likely target of disclosure. The strongest predictor of disclosure is the parents’ acceptance of their being gay.

In line with SIT, the Filipino young adult homosexuals’ in-group was perceived in significantly more favorable terms than their out-group (of heterosexuals). Furthermore, the study revealed that the stronger their in-group identification is, the greater is their tendency to disclose their sexual identity to others.

Despite the backdrop of discrimination found in the literature, stigma levels were not alarmingly high. Among family members though, the father is the highest source of rejection and disapproval, while the mother is most accepting. Higher levels of stigma from family lowered the likelihood of self-disclosure; it also interfered with in-group identification.

The respondents reported that social creativity was the most frequently used strategy in dealing with negative social identity, followed by social competition. While social mobility was seldom used, Filipino young adult homosexuals are likely to use it when instances of stigma increase. Higher stigma levels from family were found to interfere with the use of social creativity; however, higher incidents of stigma from heterosexuals induce social creativity. Meanwhile, social competition is enhanced by higher stigma levels from heterosexuals and society in general. Finally, with high in-group identification, Filipino young adult homosexuals’ tendency to engage in social mobility is subdued.