More normal than not: A qualitative assessment of the developmental experiences of gay male youth

Thomas A. Eccles*, M. A. Sayegh, J. D. Fortenberry, G. D. Zimet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose To examine gay youth experiences within the context of normal adolescent development. Methods Thematic analyses of interviews with 13 self-identified gay male youth, aged 16-22 years, each reporting minimal sexual identity distress, were completed. Interviews focused on: (a) descriptions of developmental changes perceived to occur for all adolescents, {b) descriptions of the participants' developmental experience, and (c) participants' direct comparisons of their perceptions of gay and nongay developmental experience. Data were analyzed by two investigators who, after initial review of the interview transcripts, developed a unified coding template to permit systematic analysis of the transcripts for recurrent themes. Results (a) Few (2 of 13) participants reported overall developmental experience markedly different from nongay peers. (b) Peer interaction was seen as the domain most different from that of nongay peers. (c) Open gay self-identification altered, generally positively, all peer interaction. (d) Increased peer interaction enhanced maturity in other domains. (e) Family dynamics were not substantively altered by open gay self-identification. (f) Middle and high school were identified as relatively hostile environments in which to openly identify as gay, affecting the timing and the extent of self-disclosure. (g) Developmental progress showed asynchrony across developmental domains. Conclusion General developmental dysfunction is not inevitable for gay adolescents, nor is identifiable personal or family pathology directly related to sexual identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425.e11-425.e18
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Adjustment issues
  • Adolescence
  • Developmental asynchrony
  • Families
  • Gay
  • Male
  • Peers
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual minority


Dive into the research topics of 'More normal than not: A qualitative assessment of the developmental experiences of gay male youth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this