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Negotiating Emotional Support: Sober Gay Latinos and Their Families

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This study explores how sober gay Latino men obtain support from their families. Familial ties can be a protective health factor, yet many gay Latinos experience rejection from family members because of their sexuality. There are very few studies that examine the extent and quality of emotional support from kin for this population. Understanding family dynamics within the context of recovery and sexuality can increase our understanding of how to leverage family ties to develop alcohol abuse interventions. The study was conducted semi-structured interviews with 30 sober gay Latinos using a grounded theory approach. Analyses of the qualitative data identified the following themes: Family values shaped the participants' perception of their range of choices and emotional responses; participants reported feeling loved and supported even when sexuality was not discussed with parents; and family support for sobriety is essential. Findings suggest that familial ties shape perceptions of support and importance of disclosing sexual identity. Family support often results from agreements about sexual identity disclosure, and some families can overcome cultural and religious taboos on sexuality. Future studies should investigate families that negotiate acceptance with their gay members, and whether they exhibit heterosexual biases that may influence the psychological stress of gay Latino men who wish to be sober.

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