Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship

Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship

Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship

Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship

Synopsis

This classic text, originally published in 1991 and now revised and updated to include a new preface, draws upon fieldwork and interviews to explore the ways gay men and lesbians are constructing their own notions of kinship by drawing on the symbolism of love, friendship, and biology.

Excerpt

The rush and stampede for shelter from nature created the wind. --TONI CADE BAMBARA, The Salt Eaters

David Scondras, an openly gay man elected to the Boston City Council, lists gaining recognition for an "extended concept of family" as one of his top priorities while in office. Domestic partner legislation, which would allow an unmarried heterosexual or gay partner to draw the same employment benefits as a married spouse, is passed, vetoed, and finally written into law in San Francisco, only to be rescinded in citywide elections. In Minnesota, Karen Thompson begins a protracted court battle for the right to visit her lover of four years, Sharon Kowalski, who had been placed under the legal guardianship of her father after being seriously injured in an automobile accident. Meanwhile, Jesse Jackson enters the presidential campaign with a pledge to support full legal rights for lesbian and gay couples. The New York Native and Village Voice commemorate gay pride week with feature articles on "the gay family." Geraldo Rivera opens his nationally syndicated daytime television talk show with a look of shock and the one-liner, "Is there a lesbian baby boom?" Across the country, workshops on alternative (artificial) insemination and gay parenting spring up.

To note these developments of the 1980s was to witness the emergence of a discourse on gay families, a reconfiguration of the terrain of kinship that continues to generate controversy among heterosexual and gay people alike. Gay families did not suddenly appear in isolation from conditions in society at large, but emerged as part of a wider process which Rayna Rapp (1987:130) has described as the overt politicization of kinship in the United States. Also debated during this decade were new reproductive technologies; surrogate motherhood . . .

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