Amigas y Amantes: Sexually Nonconforming Latinas Negotiate Family

By Katie L. Acosta | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
PARENTING AMONG
FAMILIES OF CHOICE

Early on in the data collection process I met Carla, a middle-aged Dominican woman, and her partner, Dolores, at a small gathering that took place at the home of a mutual acquaintance.1 Carla and Dolores had been in a relationship for more than ten years and lived in a small immigrant community just outside New York City. Carla had never had any relationships with men, but Dolores had two children from a previous relationship with a man in Puerto Rico, her place of birth. The children were now teenagers and had lived with Carla and Dolores for more than ten years. The oldest was about to begin her last year in high school:

CARLA: We are very happy together, Dolores, the kids, and I. We have one
room and the kids have another. Our relationship is stable but the kids
don’t know about it.

KATIE: What do you mean they don’t know?

CARLA: We never told them anything.

KATIE: Really?

CARLA: When they were younger we didn’t want to confuse them, and we
didn’t want problems with their father. And when they got older we left it
like that.

Carla’s family represents a common family form for sexually nonconforming women with children. Same-sex families raising children from previous heterosexual relationships must often find ways to negotiate the biological fathers of the children in their lives, considering the potential legal implications that their sexualities can have on their families. These concerns can affect their level of openness about their relationships with their children and families of origin. Sometimes, these families prefer to minimize the visibility of their sexual nonconformity and present to the larger world as amigas, or “friends.” The term

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