Using the Cass Model to integrate lesbians and gays into society
First released in 1979 by Dr. Vivienne Cass for the formation of lesbian and gay identity, the Cass model was envisioned to “normalize” homosexuality in society.
Much like the Freudian psychosexual development in children, there are stages in the Cass model on how lesbians and gays come to terms with their sexuality.
Stages of the Cass Model
Stage 1: Identity Confusion
There are three keywords to this stage: acceptance, denial or rejection. Noted as the stage where an individual begins to question their sexuality, the lesbian or gay usually denies or rejects feelings towards the same sex.
Specifically, though the lesbian or gay would have strong feelings for the same sex (mostly without sexual contact), they would justify their actions as simply a brief phase in their life, whether as experimentation, accidental, or owing to intoxication.
Stage 2: Identity Comparison
By this stage, the lesbian or gay begins to accept their sexuality albeit with the feeling of grief or sadness. This is because they will be perceived as not being normal: they will never get married or have a society-conforming family, and they may lose the acceptance of the people they grew up with.
Though there may be elements of bargaining in that the feeling could be transitory, the feeling is usually limited to one person.
Stage 3: Identity Tolerance
While the first two stages have elements of isolation, Stage 3 occurs when the lesbian or gay comes out their shell to seek out those similar to them.
They immerse themselves in the gay or lesbian culture to feel they are not alone. They find communities where, to combat against the shame-based feeling of being lesbian or gay, they pursue positive communities and role models.
Stage 4: Identity Acceptance
This is the last stage prior to the transcended feeling of being lesbian or gay. By this stage, they have fully accepted who they are. From shame or personal discrimination, they have now adjusted to having feelings or romantic relationships with the same sex.
This is a complete turnaround with a more positive stance of being lesbian or gay.
Stage 5: Identity Pride
The lesbian or gay are now proud for being who they are. Their frame of mind is “I’ve got to let people know” and they fully engage in their sexuality even while staying away from heterosexual activities.
Stage 6: Identity Synthesis
By this stage, the lesbian or gay is now fully one with their sexuality. They completely identify with it and have transcended both shame-based feelings and feelings of anger against sexual marginalization.
Dr. Cass later developed a last stage for the Cass model, a pre-stage where the lesbian or gay has no concept of their feelings towards the same sex.