Fassinger’s Model of Gay and Lesbian Identity Development

Brief Overview
Fassinger’s model of gay and lesbian identity development is a model designed to explore gay and lesbian identity development and examine cultural and contextual influences.
About the Author

In 1996, Dr. Ruth E. Fassinger introduced her model as a model of lesbian identity development and it was validated for men the following year. Today, Dr. Fassinger serves as a visiting scholar at the American Psychological Association.

For more information on Fassinger, please visit the link below:


Printable Summary (PDF)

Previous cohorts of FSU students have developed these printable summaries and used them to prepare for test and papers.  We hope they’ll be of help to you too.




Submitted by Xinye Hu and Kelvin Rutledge


Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory

Stages, Levels, Phases, and Components of the Theory:  

Individual Sexual Identity/Group Membership Identity Phases:

  • Awareness – Acknowledgement of people with different sexual orientations
  • Exploration – Begin to explore relationship with the homosexual community
  • Deepening/Commitment – Acceptance of homosexual identity and recognition of negative feedback this acceptance will garner
  • Internalization – Understanding identity as a minority with a dominant culture
Application of Theory to Practice

This section is designed to provide student affairs professionals, staff, and faculty members with tips and tools to apply theory to practice.

Annotations of Associated Literature

Annotations listed below are associated with the author’s original work to provided a more in-depth look at the theory.

Original Citation

McCarn, S.R., & Fassinger, R.E. (1996). Revisioning sexual minority identity formation: A new model of lesbian identity and its implications for counseling and research. The Counseling Psychologist, 24, 508534.

Additional Resources

This page was written and created by Ashlie Baty. The webpage is maintained by Amanda Peerce and Jesse Ford.  For information on the page, please contact Amanda Peerce at apeerce@fsu.edu or Jesse Ford at jford3@fsu.edu.