The acceptance of one’s non-heterosexual sexual orientation is a gradual and personal process that takes time and varies from one person to another. Several steps characterize the process of acceptance, a journey that a person undertakes at their own pace and based on their personality, history, living environment, age, etc. The process is unique and flexible for each person. Here are the steps of this process according to Demczuk, Dorais, Peers and Ryan. We have to remember that not all those steps are experienced by everyone during questioning and if they are it isn’t necessarily in this particular order:
• Questioning our sexual orientation: people can start asking themselves if they are different from others and if they maybe feel isolated because of these questions. They can seek information in secret and won’t necessarily talk about it with their friends or family. There can be feelings of guilt, shame or suicidal thoughts.
• Recognizing our attractions: People can start recognizing their attraction toward people of the same gender or for several genders. There can be conflicts because of interiorized homophobia (rejection of their own sexual orientation) and can feel marginalized.
• Exploring possibilities: People will start exploring different possible social, sexual and romantic relationships. They will start socializing with other people of the LGBTQ+ community because they want to find a community they belong to and that looks like them. There can be depressive episodes or suicidal thoughts because they are trying to assert themselves in a social context that is more or less homophobic.
• Relatively accepting our sexual orientation: people are ready to accept their sexual orientation and to develop their romantic or sexual relationships with a partner they’ve chosen. They can start participating in LGBTQ+ activities. There can be rejection from some friends or family members.
• Valorizing our sexual orientation: People will see their sexual orientation in a positive and healthy way.
• Integrating our sexual orientation: people will feel good with their and other people’s sexual orientation. They can pursue other personal development connected to something other than their sexual orientation. They might look for more stable relationships. There can be reconciliation with friends or family. It is still possible that they will experience discrimination in their social and professional life.
PRISME, (s.d.). Sortie/coming-out, http://www.miels.org/prisme/prevention/orientation-sexuelle