This study is an examination of the identity formation of lesbians in sport and how lesbians interpreted the softball environment with regard to social support and the ability to be open about their lesbianism. Twenty four women on summer slow pitch softball teams, and 5 spectators, participated in qualitative interviews. Responses were consistent with a model of lesbian identity formation that included preconformist, conformist, post-conformist, lesbian conformist, and lesbian post-conformist levels. The support these women received from softball players helped them to come out to others and to enter the lesbian community.
This manuscript is based on data from the author’s dissertation, which was directed by Dr. Deborah L. Feltz, Department of Physical Education and Exercise Science, Michigan State University. I would like to thank Dr. Vikki Krane, Dr. Jeanne L. Thomas, Dr. Barbara Turpin, and the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.