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According to Bridgewater, the sexual identity minority is comprised of gays, lesbian and bisexuals. Bias ideas based on sexual identity invades America?s culture in every aspect, public institutions and private interpersonal relationships. Civil liberty violations, discriminatory treatment in the public sector and psychological and physical assaults are all acts of bigotry. These hostile sentiments impact gays, lesbians and bisexuals by causing psychological distress and impinging careers and social interactions and potentially, physical harm. It is because of this that it is necessary to administer strategies which are effective in reducing the overt acts of discrimination based on sexual identity in American society. Bridgewater?s goal is to ?1) advocate coming out as a prime method for reducing negative attitudes and acts of prejudice against sexual identity minorities while increasing well-being of gays, lesbians and bisexuals and 2) provide strategies of coming out that effectively confront sexual identity discrimination and its detrimental impact?.
Quoting Blumenfield, Bridgewater states that the process of coming out is ?often
lifelong, in which a person acknowledges, accepts, and in many cases appreciates his or her lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identity?. Relevant research has shown that people who are acquainted with a gay, lesbian or bisexual tend to have less negative attitudes towards these people than those who do not. As for most Americans, they acquire opinions about sexual identity minorities from acquaintances who do not know gays or lesbians or from media portrayals which are often inaccurate, sensationalized, or negative.
Coming out is described as a public statement of an individuals sexual identity. It is rigged
to reduce the negative effects of prejudice for the individual disclosing. There are two ways in which negative sentiments are reduced. 1) an intrinsic reduction of negative feelings within the person who is disclosing and 2) a reduction or containment of discriminatory acts made by that person. It is very important for the person who is contemplating disclosure to assess whether the person they are disclosing to hold heterosexist views or if they engage in homo/biphobic discrimination. Also, if an individual does not have a powerful personal commitment to homophobic beliefs and an intimate relationship with gays, lesbians or bisexuals, there is a possibility for inherent attitudinal changes to exist. However, if a person is very homophobic and has little motivation to change their views, then it is unlikely that he or she will release their negative beliefs.
Bridgewater?s essay is very clear and straight- forward. Her opinions about coming out to those the particular individual feels comfortable with as a means to eradicate their negative feelings towards homosexuals is a good idea. She acknowledges that these decisions are or should be based on realistic goals to change inherent belief systems.
Bridgewater, D. (1992). Effective Coming Out: Self-Disclosure Strategies to Reduce Sexual Identity Bias. In J. T. Sears & W. L. Williams (Eds.), Overcoming Heterosexism and Homophobia: Strategies That Work (pp. 65- 75). New York: Columbia.
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