Identity formation among lesbians: reviewing Cass' theory twenty years later with an emphasis on media influences
The current study sought to reevaluate Cass' Theory of sexual identity formation in terms of lesbian identity development over the past twenty years and how media acts as mediation in lesbian identity development. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted with only nine useable transcripts analyzed for this thesis. This study is an explanatory investigation into linear stage theory, specifically Cass' theory, as well as the impact of media as a mediator during lesbian identity development. This study had three objectives 1) to gain an understanding of the theory and its components related to lesbian identity development 2) to understand the lesbian identity formation process and 3) to understand the impact and influence if any, media has had on lesbian self-reported identity development. Qualitative methods were used to obtain information and analyze the responses. Results indicate that the participants in this study believed that the coming out process was important. This study's results showed that several of the participants entered each stage of the theory, while others did not. Media had little influence on the identity development, and the participants had mixed reviews of medias portrayal of lesbians. Implications for practice and further research are discussed.