When a second sibling comes out as LGBT: Examining sibling relationships and family experiences

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Virginia Tech

Investigation into the experiences of young adults who are the second sibling to self-identify and come out as a sexual minority in their families of origin is non-existent. In the context of evolving conceptualizations of the coming out process, the present study sought to explore the perceptions of the second sibling to come out as LGBT in the family of origin and the role of the already-out LGBT sibling on the coming out process. Guided by an integration of life course theory and symbolic interactionism, 15 young adults participated in intensive interviews involving their personal coming out experiences, self-identification processes, and family relationships. A constructivist grounded theory approach to data analysis was utilized, as deeper understandings of meaning and context was a goal of this inquiry. An iterative process of open, axial, and selective coding yielded 3 themes and 10 sub-categories that revealed the nuances of LGBT siblings and their family structures and dynamics, the coming out process of both the first and second siblings, and the construction of meaning post-coming out. The findings of this study have significant implications for the advancement of understanding when two or more siblings navigate the coming out process in their families of origin. Family scholars, practitioners, and community professionals will be able to utilize these findings in their work with LGBT individuals and their families.

LGBT young adults, coming out, sibling relationships, family relationships