Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access


Media & Communication Studies


Sheryl Goodman

Committee Member

Alice Leppert

Committee Member

Meghan Brodie

Department Chair

Sheryl Goodman

Project Description

Although the coming out process has ample literature spanning multiple disciplines and applying several different conceptualizations, the lack of attention to bisexuality, pansexuality, and their coming out processes is evident. Despite the statistical prevalence of bisexuality, with over half of LGB individuals identifying as bisexual according to Gates (2011), and pansexuality’s contemporary popularization, works on sexuality and coming out either exclude bisexuality and pansexuality from their study or provide a limited study with a smaller subset of bisexual and pansexual individuals, as compared to homosexual individuals. In this study, the coming out experiences of college-aged bisexuals and pansexuals were examined through 17 in-depth interviews to gain a deeper understanding of how these individuals view their own sexualities and the coming out process. A phenomenology-inspired approach revealed four major themes that characterized their experiences: (1) definitions, dynamics, and the bisexual dilemma; (2) the day-to-day coming out decision-making process; (3) bi/pansexual problematic experiences; and (4) female friendships, girl crushes, and gendered expectations. Further implications of this study and suggestions for further research were presented.