This article comprises one facet of a larger, three-year phenomenological study (1997-2000) of gay and lesbian youth coming out in post-apartheid South Africa. A nonprobability sample of 18 young people, aged between 16 and 21 years, was interviewed. The resultant data was content analyzed, and the trustworthiness of the information was ensured via member checking and utilizing an independent coder. Results consistently revealed that gay and lesbian youth use defense mechanisms, such as denial, avoidance, compartmentalization, suppression, compensation, sublimation, undoing, displacement, rationalization, and intellectualization, in a conscious manner during their coming out process. The young people in this study demonstrated resilience despite the prejudice and inner turmoil that they had experienced. Practice guidelines are suggested in terms of how health and social care practitioners can support gay and lesbian youth in coping with their coming out process.
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