For this section in our Family course, we will be examining issues related to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender families. We start out by viewing the documentary film Freedom to Marry: The Journey To Justice. This documentary chronicles the 2004 San Francisco civil disobedience of Mayor Gavin Newsom, as he allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry at San Francisco City Hall.

Additionally, had guest speaker Brian Frank, a founding member of Lambda Family Circle. He joined us to discuss gay parenting issues, as well as his own personal story of his family. He told us how he and his partner Steve met some twenty years ago and that both of them had very different coming out processes. While Steve came out early in life; Brian came out in his late twenties, and his family never accepted his sexuality or partner. When they were first together, few avenues existed for the creation of GLBT families. However, in the past two decades, many different pathways to parenthood have developed: adoption, surrogacy, alternative insemination, transparenting, and polyamory. Brian and Steve became foster parents to several children before adopting Darius.

The article “Diversity Among Same-Sex Couples and Their Children,” by Gary Gates, in the edited anthology by Stephanie Coontz entitled American Families: A Multicultural Reader, provide compelling 2000 census statistics on gay families. For example, “one in five same-sex couples were raising children…250,000 children” (394), that same-sex couples are not particularly wealthy (396), and that a large percentage of these families are comprised of people of color, dispelling stereotypes of childless, wealthy, white men as gay representatives. What were some of the issues Dr. Frank mentioned in relation to working with the foster care industry?

We also read two chapters from Families We Choose, by Kath Weston. In chapter 2: “Exiles from Kinship,” Weston describes the ways in which GLBT folks have been socially positioned outside of the family, which may lead to charges that they are even “anti-family.” Historically, GLBT people had few options of creating families from their unions and they often were closeted with their biological families. Currently, while many GLBT individuals continue to face social prejudice, there are more opportunities for family creation, including creating “chosen families.” How does Weston describe these chosen families?

In Chapter 5: “Families We Choose,” Weston describes the ways in which GLBT folks create their own “gay families” out of their friends and ex-lovers that become “fictive kin” (105). These family formations, which provided great emotional and well as service support, “tended to have extremely fluid boundaries” (108). Gay families were chosen and individualistic in meaning, in contrast to blood family which is definitely not chosen. These families also lacked models and were free form and created anew, not necessarily mimicking blood family lines. Weston also discusses the issue of community and the social construction of a GLBT identity, around which a person’s life may orbit to a greater or lesser extent. She describe that white participants often experienced the gay community as their first community experience, whereas for people of color, they felt a conflict between now-competing identities and displacement of one identity while in the space of the other.

For our blog posting #5 (due Thursday, Feb. 24, 2 hours before class), please discuss the assigned material, reflecting on at least one of the assigned articles and the documentary and/or guest speaker. Include a link to further information on the topic of GLBT families. Be ready to discuss your linked related to the assigned material in class.

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