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A dialectical analysis of discourses surrounding children's experiences of parental disclosures of homosexuality

Diana Breshears, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

While the occurrence of same-sex parenting is on the rise, the stigma of this alternative family form persists in US cultural discourse. As a result of this stigma, the coming out process for parents and their children is often a site of change animated by conflicting discourses. Framed in the interpretive paradigm and guided by Relational Dialectics Theory, the goal in the present study was to understand the discourses that animate adult children's experiences of their parents coming out and to understand how these discourses interplay to create meaning for the participants. Through 20 in-depth interviews with adult children who remembered a parent coming out to them as lesbian/gay, the following three research questions were addressed: (1) How do children learn of their parents' homosexuality when they previously knew their parents to be heterosexual, and what are their reactions to this discovery? (2) What competing discourses regarding homosexuality animate the participants' experiences throughout their parents' coming out processes? (3) How do the competing discourses regarding homosexuality interplay to create meaning for children regarding their familial, relational, and personal identities throughout their parents' coming out processes? Participants discussed their experiences of having their parents come out to them, as well as the advice they have for parents preparing to come out to their children based on their experiences. There was one discursive struggle that animated the participants' experiences of their parents coming out: the discourse of homosexuality as wrong vs. the discourse of homosexuality as acceptable. In participants' current talk about having lesbian/gay parents, the discourse of homosexuality as acceptable was given the centered position (centripetal), while the discourse of homosexuality as wrong was given the marginalized position (centrifugal). The interplay of the discourses in participants' talk about their familial identities, as well as their explanations for their positioning of these discourses is discussed. Implications of the findings are discussed for the study of LGBT families, Relational Dialectics Theory, and for the application of the findings to benefit lesbian/gay-parented families. Directions for future research are also addressed.^

Subject Area

Speech Communication|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Breshears, Diana, "A dialectical analysis of discourses surrounding children's experiences of parental disclosures of homosexuality" (2011). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3449888.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3449888

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