Campus Location

Abilene Campus (Residential)

Date of Award


Document Type



Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Name

Master of Marriage and Family Therapy

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Lisa V Merchant

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Joanna Méndez-Pounds

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Greg Brooks


Over the last decade, societal attention towards the LGBTQ community has grown significantly through social media and political movements. While research indicates increased acceptance and awareness, LGBTQ individuals and their families still face challenges, with “coming out” being a pivotal and ongoing difficulty. This study adopts a structural family therapy lens to investigate how the process of coming out impacts family dynamics, boundaries, and roles within Christian families. Existing literature underscores the role of religion, particularly Christianity, in causing stress for LGBTQ individuals. Although some families initially react negatively to disclosure, many eventually report improvement. However, there is limited research on both the process and its effects on families. This grounded theory study seeks to answer key questions about changes before and after coming out within Christian families and their impact on the family through a structural model. Understanding these dynamics before and after disclosure is crucial for clinicians and families to provide better support to LGBTQ individuals. The data analysis revealed a discernible pattern in the participants’ coming out journeys, with disclosure initially straining the relationship to its lowest point but subsequently leading to improvement. This process can be broadly classified into four phases: Hiding, Coming Out, Distancing, and Reconnecting.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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