9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN13 Sociology of Families and Intimate Lives

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 The Transition to Parenthood: Motivations and Decisions Building II, Auditório B1.03

(Why) Do lesbian women and gay men (not) want to have children?

In the face of diversifying family realities, many European countries established regulations for same sex marriages and homosexual parenthood in the last decade(s). Nonetheless, non-heterosexual parenting challenges heteronormative conceptions of the dependence between motherhood and parenthood on the one hand and the linkage between either motherhood and femininity, or fatherhood and masculinity on the other. Focusing on children's problems in homosexual family constellations, the available research neglects the (potential) parent's view. Discussions about a "Gayby Boom" (Weeks et al. 2001) do not inform about the manifestation of the desire or non-desire to have children by lesbian women and gay men. Furthermore, we know little about the reasons why homosexual persons want or do not want to have children.
In order to answer these questions, I refer to 53 qualitative interviews with self-identified German lesbian women (24) and gay men (29). The data was collected between 2004 and 2006 for my PhD-project about the interdependency between homosexuality and age/ing and re-used in a secondary analysis to investigate questions about homosexual parenthood.
The findings illustrate the heterogeneity of attitudes of lesbian women and gay men concerning the desire to have children. Most lesbian women and gay men deal with the issue of future parenthood in the context of their coming-out. Parenting is not self-evident for homosexual persons. In turn, heteronormative assumptions of a contradiction between homosexuality and parenthood work in different ways: While these assumptions are incriminatory for homosexual persons who want to have children, they are exonerative for those who do not. In addition, childlessness and its acceptance can be seen as adaptation to external conditions hostile to homosexual parenthood.