Stage Six: Identity Synthesis

In stage six, Identity Synthesis, an awareness develops that the dichotomy of “them and us” is not valid. Anger decreases, pride becomes less aggressive, and the gay or lesbian identity is more integrated with other aspects of the individual. It may be difficult for people to attain this level of identity integration and synthesis if they have been drinking heavily and using drugs for a considerable length of time.

Counselors should explore the meaning of clients’ stating they have been out for 30 years or they have been gay since the age of 7. The length of time they consider themselves gay or lesbian does not necessarily predict whether people have worked through the process of claiming a positive gay or lesbian identity or of feeling good about themselves as gay men or lesbians, especially when they have spent many years abusing alcohol or drugs. Clients’ meaning of the word “out” may be highly individual. A client who describes herself as out for 2 years may mean that 2 years ago her mother discovered that she was involved with a woman.