Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2017


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counselor Education and Supervision (ExCES)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Fr. Louis Jocelyn Gregoire

Committee Member

Waganesh A. Zeleke

Committee Member

Christin Jungers


LGBTQ, Catholic Church, Religion, Sexual Identity, Counseling, Identity


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (LGBTQ) adults encounter societal challenges, pushback from religious organizations, and discrimination from lawmakers which interfere with their ability to come out as their true selves. This qualitative, phenomenologically oriented study explored the LGBTQ identity and practicing Catholic religious beliefs in an attempt to develop a rich description and understanding of the experience of LGBTQ individuals’ coming out process in relation to the practice of Catholic religious beliefs. The central research question that guided this inquiry was the following: What are the lived experiences of persons who identify as Catholic and who have come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning?

Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model of Development (1979) and the Cass Model of Sexual Identity Development (1979) were the conceptual frameworks used to support the study, and van Manen’s Phenomenological Existential Approach (1997) provided insight into the problem of the study. Findings after data analysis emerged to uncover the following themes related to the coming out process of LGBTQ identifying individuals who were raised within the Catholic Church:: a) My family will disown me for being Gay; b) What happens if I can’t pay my bills (Financial Stability)?; c) Catholic Church: Are you for or against?; d) Would you choose a lifestyle that is not accepted in society?; e) Who am I and what am I feeling?; and f) I am who I am, and I am okay with that. This study also addressed the practical implications for professional counselors, the Catholic Church, and areas for future research. Finally, this study addressed some of its own limitations and identified recommendations for future research.