Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 275–295 | Cite as

Coming Out of the Family Closet: Stories of Adult Women with LGBTQ Parent(s)

  • Kristin E. JoosEmail author
  • K. L. Broad


Research about children of LGBTQ parent(s) tends to be politically interested and evaluative, assessing the degree to which children with LGBTQ parent(s) are being raised well. As a consequence, much of that research glosses over the distinct experiences of children with LGBTQ parent(s) and how they tell their own stories. This article attends to that shortcoming by detailing how some children with LGBTQ parent(s) construct their identities. We draw upon data from interviews with 26 adult-children, specifically young, white women who were born to, or adopted by, heterosexual parent(s) who later divorced and began living as LGBTQ. We analyze the children’s interviews as coming out narratives, detailing how many tell a story of coming out as a process of growing up and negotiating specific family closets. We then discuss how these are gendered and racialized narratives of coming out, reflecting the way racism and sexism intersect with homophobia and the stories told about experiencing it. We also suggest that these are stories of a particular generation of adult-children, reflecting specific families and the homophobia of the times. We end by suggesting how future generations of adult-children with LGBTQ parent(s) will likely narrate their identities differently.


Bisexual Children Closet Coming out Family Identity Gay LGBTQ Lesbian Parents Transgender Queer 



We are grateful for the generous and helpful participation by members of COLAGE, from the initial stages of the pilot study through the final review of the manuscript before publication. This article would not exist if it were not for their participation and insight. We would like to especially acknowledge the insightful and articulate input of Abigail Garner, author of Families Like Mine: Children of Gay Parents Tell It Like It Is, as well as feedback from promising young scholars who also have LGBTQ parent(s): Orson Morrison, Psy.D., Kate Kuvalanka, Ph.D., James Hendrickson, M.S., and others who wish to remain unnamed. The critical and important comments by Javier Auyero and the anonymous reviewers of Qualitative Sociology greatly improved this work. An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meetings of the Society for the Study of Social Problems in San Francisco, August 13–15, 2004.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research (CWSGR)/Department of SociologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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