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February 19, 1997

Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance

Author Affiliations

Bellevue Hospital New York, NY

JAMA. 1997;277(7):598-599. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540310096043

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance, Richard Isay describes a process in which homosexual men establish for themselves a strong positive self-regard. In a culture and society that are inherently homophobic, he proposes that to become gay, the homosexual boy, adolescent, and man must be able to label himself as such. Internalized self-hate and homophobia, Isay states, can only be worked through by a process of confrontation of denial, self-acknowledgment, and ultimate self-acceptance.

Through a series of rich case studies, Isay addresses the difficulties gay men face in establishing a sense of positive self-regard, from adolescence through old age, and includes a chapter on developing a positive gay identity when HIV-positive or living with AIDS. In a compassionate and affirming way, Isay describes the adolescent boy as he attempts to deal with Erikson's phase of identity vs role confusion. In addition, the homosexual adolescent must confront a society