Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identities in Families: Psychological Perspectives

Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identities in Families: Psychological Perspectives

Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identities in Families: Psychological Perspectives

Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identities in Families: Psychological Perspectives

Synopsis

Breaking through long-held presumptions about family relationships, this volume acknowledges that lesbian, gay and bisexual identities are an important facet of life in many families, and for the first time examines the entire rich experience of such relationships, in contrast to studies which have looked exclusively at the lives and origins of lesbian and gay couples. Taking advantage of a wealth of new research -- which however up to now has been scattered in multiple, hard-to-locate sources -- the authors present the first authoritative examination of the many different kinds of family relationships sustained by lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

Excerpt

Cultural understandings of families have traditionally been intertwined with heterosexist assumptions. Not only does society generally presume children to be heterosexual unless otherwise specified but also parents and other family members are usually expected to be heterosexual. Only quite recently has research and scholarship examined lesbian, gay, and bisexual lives within the context of families. Recent research has focused on lesbian and gay couples, and on their families of origin. Studies of lesbian mothers, gay fathers, and their children have also emerged, and a considerable research literature has accumulated. Given how new much of the relevant research and theory on this subject is, however, it is not surprising that authoritative reviews are rare and often difficult to locate.

Building on the work published in our earlier volume, Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identities Over the Lifespan: Psychological Perspectives (Oxford University Press, 1995), which emphasized individuals, the present work takes families as its central focus. Families are significant contexts in which the development of sexual identity usually occurs and in which such identities are maintained over time. Families are also deeply influenced by the sexual identities of their members, as are the communities in which families are embedded. The chapters in this volume review the most important recent scholarship on lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities in families, and identify promising directions for future research and theory in this multifaceted area.

As our title is intended to suggest, we are interested here not in an abstract ideal of "the family" but, rather, in the multiplicity of actual families with which lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals are connected in various ways. Our perspective is influenced by the need to recognize variations in lesbian, gay, and bisexual family lives that are associated with cultural, ethnic, racial, and social class differences, as well as to explore commonalities across the lifespan. An ecological perspective that views families in the context of their community and cultural environments is central to our approach. We hope to examine the many different kinds of family relationships sustained by lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

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