Conceptions of Gay Male Life-Span Development: Past & Present
Date of this version
Four of Erikson’s eight psychosocial crises were used in this qualitative, exploratory study as an organizing framework. Using a semi-structured questionnaire, seven men were interviewed with the goal of understanding how they have navigated Erikson’s life stages. Significant results included: an early sense of being different and a period of time between “coming out to self” and “coming out to another person”, both complicating Erikson’s sense of “social trust”. The men also described finding nonbiological ways of achieving generativity as well as the development of a strong internal sense of authority or locus of control. Other strengths gained included: achieving a broad base of social support or a “family of choice”, and becoming role models themselves in response to a clear absence of positive role models during their own adolescence, which many identified as delaying their coming out. Finally, AIDS was discussed by many as a critical factor affecting how these men navigate each of Erikson’s stages. Implications of these tentative findings are suggested for research, teaching, practice, and for psychosocial theory itself.
Journal of Human Behavior and the Social Environment