Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Family Issues 31:7 (July 2010), pp. 960–991; doi: 10.1177/0192513X09354454 Copyright © 2010 Karin A. Martin, David J. Hutson, Emily Kazyak, and Kristin S. Scherrer; published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


The family is one of the main areas of social life where the normalization of gay and lesbian identity is incomplete. Most research analyzes the individual and psychological aspects of how families respond to children’s disclosure of a gay or lesbian identity and ignores the social, cultural, and historical contexts. An examination of the cultural discourses, tools, and strategies that are available to parents is necessary for a full understanding of how families respond to gay and lesbian children. The authors conduct an interpretive content analysis of 29 advice books to assess this cultural field and its institutional resources. They find three broad strategies offered to parents: relying on professionals for overcoming the grief of having a gay or lesbian child, normalizing gay and lesbian identity, and using “good” parenting skills. This article discusses how these strategies demonstrate the unsettled and often contradictory cultural field of gay and lesbian identity in the family and its implications for sexual identities beyond the closet.

Included in

Sociology Commons