Homosexual identity: a concept in need of definition

J Homosex. 1983-1984 Winter-Spring;9(2-3):105-26.


Despite the fact that the concept homosexual identity has been used extensively in the literature on homosexuality since the late 1960s, investigators have shown little concern for defining or discussing the manner in which it is used. As a result, the study of homosexual identity has been characterized by confusion, disarray, and ambiguity. A multiplicity of terminologies makes comparisons between studies difficult. There has been little attempt to place theoretical proposals or data within the framework of existing psychological literature on identity. A number of assumptions critical to an understanding of homosexual identity are commonly made, and several of these are discussed: The synonymity of homosexual identity and self-concept; homosexual identity as childhood identity; homosexual identity as sexual identity; and homosexuality as distinct essence. This review also considers the following issues: The distinction between identity and behavior; the utility of an identity construct as applied to the study of homosexuals; the definition of identity in developmental theories of homosexual identity; and homosexual group identity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Ego
  • Gender Identity*
  • Homosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Identification, Psychological*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychological Theory
  • Psychosexual Development
  • Self Concept
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Identification