Out and about: Negotiating the layers of being out in the process of disclosure of lesbian parenthood

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Discussion of coming out within lesbian and gay academic literature has focussed primarily on the individual process and consequences of disclosing a lesbian/gay identity. Drawing upon data from a qualitative research study of 20 lesbian parent families in the UK, who had planned and had their first child together, this paper considers dimensions of coming out that arise for lesbian parents having children in an openly lesbian relationship. To date little attention has been paid to these dimensions. Women identified how having children revealed new layers of being out as parenthood brought them into contact with a whole new range of people, settings and networks. Negotiating recognition of their parental and familial status involves making decisions about when, where and how to come out in these new settings and women also faced renegotiations of an acceptance of their lesbian identity and parenthood with family members. This paper utilises stigma theory to examine some of the additional complexities related to the decisions and negotiations involved in being out as lesbian parent families.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSociological Research Online
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2007


  • Coming out
  • Family lives
  • Lesbian parents
  • Motherhood
  • Qualitative research
  • Stigma


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