Queer Families, Queer Politics: Challenging Culture and the State

Queer Families, Queer Politics: Challenging Culture and the State

Queer Families, Queer Politics: Challenging Culture and the State

Queer Families, Queer Politics: Challenging Culture and the State

Synopsis

This is the first book about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families that connects issues of gender, sexuality, and the family with the broader issues of social movements, politics, and law. Chapters address the themes of visibility, transgression, and resistance, as well as the intersection between the personal and political in the contexts of relationships, parenthood, and political activism. Giving special attention to families of color, immigrant, and poor families, the authors examine the risks entailed in coming out and the significance of class, race, and sexual and gender identity in this process. Parenting also creates dilemmas of visibility as queer families negotiate malls and schools as well as the medical, legal, and political institutions that regulate their families. This book explores how heteronormative and class assumptions influence state polices on parenthood, adoption, and relationships between adults, to question whether the law can meet the needs of queer families. Also discussed is how queer family politics are com-plicated by bisexuality, nonmonagamy, and gender nonconformity.

Excerpt

“Vermont's High Court Avoids the M-Word and Makes History” proclaims a recent Boston Globe headline (Graff 2000). Struggles over same-sex marriage, grandmothers suing their lesbian daughters for custody of their grandchildren (Bottoms v. Bottoms), battles over gays as foster parents, and queer teenagers organizing in schools are all topics making the front pages of national, regional, and local newspapers. Talk-show hosts cannot get enough of the queer invasion of American cultural life and news-magazine shows scramble to locate the next same-sex poster couple for the “homosexual” issue of the day.

Widespread visibility, however, has not translated into unequivocal improvements in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) individuals and families. Forceful opposition to acceptance of queer families comes from conservatives who view the very existence of queers as an immoral threat to the sanctity of the heterosexual order and to society itself. At the other end of the spectrum, many LGBTs strive desperately for acceptance and understanding from mainstream society. Still other LGBTs believe that queers are different and rightly challenge society's cherished norms about gender and the privatized heterosexual-nuclear family.

The chapters in this book examine the political and cultural impact of queers and their families as they struggle for the right to exist. Just over half of the chapters in this anthology were originally presented at a conference we chaired, entitled “Relatively Speaking: a Conference on Lesbian, Gay . . .

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