Conceptualizations of family by older gay men

Anna Muraco, Allen J. LeBlanc, Stephen T. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Gay lives challenge historically dominant understandings of family. Given that definitions of family have been heterosexually based, how do non-heterosexuals define and understand "family?" Drawing from the family life course perspective, we propose that contemporary cohorts of older gay men represent a strategic vantage point for understanding innovations in family life, and thus expand current understandings of a gay life course. We use data from an interview study of gay men over the age of 50 who talked about their family relationships. While providing diverse definitions of family, biological ties and closeness were two consistent dimensions for defining both positive and negative family relationships by these older gay men. Narratives of coming out were central to discussions of current relationships with parents and children. The findings from this study indicate that sexual orientation influences life trajectories and transitions and point to useful avenues for further research on contemporary family life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-90
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Aging
  • Coming out
  • Family
  • Gay men
  • Life course
  • Orientation
  • Sexual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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