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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 29, 2013

The internet and sexual identity formation: Comparing Internet use before and after coming out

  • Łukasz Szulc EMAIL logo and Alexander Dhoest
From the journal Communications


Even in its early years, the Internet was recognized as a medium with great potential for lesbians, gay men, and bisexual individuals (LGBs), especially for LGB youths struggling with their sexual identity. Yet, Internet research related to coming out tends to focus on particular cases or Internet use before and during coming out. Consequently, as such research emphasizes the opportunities and positive aspects of the Internet for LGBs, it may lead to an overestimation of the importance of sexual identity in terms of LGB Internet use. Therefore, in this paper we explore the LGB-specific Internet use of a broad crosssection of the LGB community both before or during and after coming out. Our quantitative online survey and in-depth interviews show that LGBs use the Internet for LGB-oriented purposes less after coming out than before or during it. The results suggest that sexual identity becomes a less salient topic in terms of everyday Internet use after coming out.

Published Online: 2013-10-29
Published in Print: 2013-10-28

©2013 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin Boston

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