9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Sexuality, the Family and Intimate Life Building I, 1E8

It didnĀ“t "just happen": reflection, intention, deliberation

This paper draws upon a British Academy funded study based upon 60 interviews conducted in the UK (Taylor, Y. Lesbian and Gay Parenting: Social and Educational Capitals. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). It explores gay men's and lesbians' varying routes to parenthood and how they make sense of this path, as intersecting classed and sexual inequalities. Many commentators on lesbian and gay parenting have pointed towards the high degree of reflexivity and intentionality with which lesbians and gay men construct and plan families, with biological constraints compelling a profound re-thinking of families (Agigian, 2004; Clarke and Kitzinger, 2005; Lindsay et al., 2006). While lesbian and gay parents-  "creative" routes into parenting have been evidenced as innovative this perhaps sidelines more "normative" pathways, as well as the disruptions and (dis)continuities between these. Here, possibilities intersected with classed transitions -  what interviewees imagined for themselves and what others imagined for them, still compellingly constructed by heteronormativity. All still had to gauge, perform and even resist the constitution of "respectable" routes into parenthood, often as a defence but sometimes as an offence, where middle-class interviewees positioned themselves against the "poor" parenting of others - in order to "redeem" themselves. Hence, the dominant academic narrative in "postmodern", "reflexive" accounts, and in middle-class parents own accounts, negates working-class "queerness", calling into question the quality and legitimacy of their parenting. Here I will focus on reproductive experiences and the construction of "respectable routes" as intersecting sexuality and class. The narrative of "choice", which is materially resourced and performed across legal, medical and parental terrain, eclipses the experiences of working-class parents; interrogating the intersecting class and sexual dimensions of this narrative unpacks important aspects of constraint and agency within "family planning".