Same Sex Intimacies: Families of Choice and Other Life Experiments

Same Sex Intimacies: Families of Choice and Other Life Experiments

Same Sex Intimacies: Families of Choice and Other Life Experiments

Same Sex Intimacies: Families of Choice and Other Life Experiments

Synopsis

Our families are increasingly a matter of choice, and the choices are widening all the time. This is particularly true of the non-heterosexual world, where the last ten years have seen a popular acceptance of same sex partnerships and, to a lesser extent, of same sex parenting. Based on extensive interviews with people in a variety of non-traditional relationships, this fascinating new book argues that these developments in the non-heterosexual world are closely linked to wider changes in the meaning of family in society at large, and that each can cast light on the other. Same Sex Intimacies gives vivid accounts of the different ways non-heterosexual people have been able to create meaningful intimate relationships for themselves, and highlights the role of individual agency and collective endeavour in forging these roles: as friends, partners, parents and as members of communities. This topical book will provide compelling reading for students of the family, sexuality and lesbian and gay studies.

Excerpt

This book is about same sex intimate relationships: what we call families of choice and other life experiments. Our aim is to show the different ways in which individuals whose lives have been lived at odds with the dominant sexual norms of our culture have been able, in the everyday circumstances in which they find themselves, to create meaningful, intimate relationships for themselves: as friends, partners, parents, members of communities. in this book, we document and analyse narratives of individual agency and collective endeavour, of creativity and choice, of personal autonomy and mutual responsibility, of care and love, of pleasure and commitment. They are stories of ordinary people and ordinary lives, made extraordinary by the circumstances in which they find themselves.

The book is based on interviews with self-identified 'non-heterosexuals', that is 'homosexuals', 'lesbians', 'gay men', 'bisexuals', 'queers', and the range of other possible labels which people adopt to represent their dissident sexual identities and sense of belonging. the interviews were carried out as part of a research project funded by the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in 1995 and 1996, entitled 'Families of Choice: the Structure and Meanings of Non-Heterosexual Relationships' (ref. L315253030). the project was based at South Bank University, and directed by Jeffrey Weeks, with Catherine Donovan and Brian Heaphy as research fellows, and in turn, was part of a wider esrc research programme on 'Population and Household Change' (see McRae 1999).

The project was thus part of a wider study of changes in family and personal life, which provides the broad context for the research. in our own work, we sought to do two things. First, we wanted to analyse the emergence of the new relationship ethic in the non-heterosexual world, which has radically shifted the political and cultural focus of lesbian and gay communities across the liberal democracies and elsewhere. Campaigns for partnership recognition, same sex marriage and parenting rights are only the most public aspects of significant changes in everyday life. These are products of the growing maturity and complexity of the non-heterosexual world itself as a result of a long and vibrant history. But these shifts are also part of a wider transformation of intimate life, usually dramatised in terms of a 'crisis of the family'. the traditional family, we

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