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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Constructing Family Among Same-sex Couples: A Comparative Study of Same-sex Latino and White Couples

  • Author(s): Loughrin, Sandra Marie
  • Advisor(s): Reese, Ellen
  • et al.


This study examines the ways in which queer families construct "family" in light of social and legal constraints through a comparative study of fifteen queer Latinos and fifteen queer Anglos/whites in self-identified committed relationships. I focus on three main aspects within the construction of "family" in everyday life: (1) familial acceptance for current relationships, (2) the social construction of queer or queer/Latino identity, and (3) the meanings of coupling, romantic commitment, and family practices and division of household labor. Findings suggest that queer Latinos' cultural and familial expectations shape their perceptions of the "coming out" process and familial acceptance for their sexuality. However, fears and anxieties Latinos expressed over social and familial acceptance of their romantic and sexual lives were relatively similar to the stories told by the Anglo sample. Similarly, Latino respondents tended to conflate homophobia within Latino culture with Catholicism. Respondents in the Anglo sample told similar struggles with sexual identity and religious opposition. Furthermore, the everyday lives, household division of labor, and the way queer families construct "family" differ little by race/ethnicity. I argue that conceptions of a "traditional Latino family," "machismo," and other cultural perceptions of the Latino culture lead queer Latinos to believe they will not be accepted, that their familial acceptance process is more difficult than that of their Anglo counterparts, or that they may face greater opposition from their church or community--regardless of how similar their stories may be to these Anglo counterparts.

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