Special Issue: Journal of GLBT Family Studies

Putting families of origin into the queer picture

Exploring experiences and representations by parents, siblings and other family members of LGBT persons.

Chiara Bertone and Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, Guest Editors


Relations with families of origin remain an underexplored dimension of GLBT family life. What is largely missing is, in particular, research on the perspectives of the families of origin themselves: parents, but also siblings, grandparents and other members of extended families. There is also a need for interdisciplinary dialogue on these issues, since research has mainly been developed in the field of psychology, with the aim of providing tools to promote family acceptance and preventing lesbian, gay and transgender youth distress. Fewer studies have explored the connections between family responses and social change, looking at the intertwined processes of the constructions and positioning of gender, homosexuality and heterosexuality in the redefinition of family relations following disclosure. This perspective seems very productive, both for its empirical findings and for the possibilities that it opens for theoretical development in the understanding of persistence and change in heteronormativities and sexual citizenship, building a bridge with debates about broader transformations of intimacy. Likewise, there is little published research about the experiences of support for families of GLBT individuals within public, health, educational and voluntary sectors.

Also of interest is that, if we look beyond US and UK publications, we find that research has actually been carried out in many countries, and often in languages other than English. Several of these studies come from areas like Southern Europe, where intergenerational ties are experienced by families and constructed by governmental, health and educational policies as of higher significance and strength than in some other cultural and national settings.  To unearth this broader international body of research, the Journal of GLBT Family Studies is featuring a special issue, providing the space for a much needed comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and non-exclusively Western overview of research on the families of origin of LGBT subjects.

            The editors are looking for manuscripts from a range of social science disciplines.  All submissions will be given due consideration.  Papers based on empirical research directly involving family members are strongly encouraged. 

The specific focus of submitted papers may include, but is not limited to:

–          What happens when heteronormative assumptions are challenged? How do parents, siblings and other family members negotiate coming out?

–          Families of origin of transgender persons dealing with medical and social processes of gender redefinition

–          Family practices in everyday life: negotiations on meanings and rules.

–          Families of origin dealing with their coming out to family networks and community.

–          Experiences of siblings of GLBT persons.

–          Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters: gender differences in the redefinition of family relations following disclosure.

–          Diversity among families across class and ethnicity and diverse international settings. 

–          Becoming grandparents: dealing with their LGBT child’s reproductive choices and building relations with grandchildren.

–          Negotiations around gay and lesbian people’s attendance at family rituals.

–          Family members involved in self-help organisations and in the LGBT movement.

–          Families of origin addressing and understanding the choices of gay men and lesbians in relation to marriage and other forms of institutional recognition.

–          Family members’ attitudes towards sexual citizenship rights.

–          Services dealing with the families of origin of LGBT persons and the experience of their users.


Manuscript Specifications:

If you are interested in submitting a paper for review, please submit a 200-250 word abstract to Chiara Bertone at  by May 1, 2012. All submissions must be electronic.