A qualitative study of disparate identities : a homosexual Mormon example
Alliant International University
This study explored how intrinsically religious homosexuals reconcile themselves with doctrines that denounce homosexual practices and portend negative eternal consequences for the unrepentant. All participants rejected the option of repudiating either their religious beliefs or their homosexual identities. The sample consisted of eighteen adults between the ages of 19 and 51 who were recruited from Reconciliation, a support group for homosexual Mormons, and by word of mouth. Most were reared in the Intermountain West by parents with varying degrees of commitment to the LDS Church (Mormon). Subjects completed 370 of 567 items on the MMPI-2 to create the basic profile of clinical scales and underwent an audio taped, semi-structured interview. Two-thirds of the sample had between 1 and 8 elevated MMPI scales and one third had no elevated MMPI scales. Interview transcripts were reviewed for common themes using the constant comparison method. Interview data reveal four themes that appear to be related to elevated MMPI clinical scales: (a) subject's early commitment to the LIDS Church, (b) parents' commitment to the LIDS Church, (c) worries about the hereafter, and (d) external and internal pressure to choose between Mormon and homosexual identities. Coping mechanisms include: (a) seeking support, (b) avoidance, (c) rationalization, (d) splitting, and (e) celibacy. Consistent with related research, these findings suggest difficulties in the developmental task of separation-individuation which requires choices and repudiations for successful identity consolidation. Implications for clinicians include awareness of the special stressors experienced by this population, and the importance of therapeutic neutrality and respect for religious beliefs and potential choices between identities.