Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 123–138 | Cite as

Who Counts as Family? Family Typologies, Family Support, and Family Undermining Among Young Adult Gay and Bisexual Men

  • Jorge H. Soler
  • Cleopatra H. Caldwell
  • David Córdova
  • Gary Harper
  • José A. Bauermeister


Gay and bisexual men may form chosen families in addition to or in place of families of origin. However, the characteristics of these diverse families remain largely unexamined in the quantitative literature. The purpose of this study was to develop a family typology based on responses from a racially and ethnically diverse sample of young adult gay and bisexual men (YGBM) recruited from the Detroit Metropolitan Area (N = 350; 18–29 years old). To explore the role of family, we examined family social support and social undermining in relation to YGBM psychological distress within different family types. A series of multivariate regressions were used to examine associations between family social support and social undermining with depression and anxiety outcomes. The majority (88%) of YGBM included family of origin in their definitions of family and 63% indicated having chosen families. Associations between family social processes and psychological outcomes varied by type of family, suggesting that family composition shapes how perceptions of support and undermining relate to experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Chosen families play a prominent role in the lives of YGBM and should not be overlooked in family research. Findings also highlight the importance of examining co-occurring family social support and social stress processes to further address psychological distress symptoms among YGBM.


Social network Family dynamics Mental health Emerging adulthood 



The United for HIV Integration and Policy (UHIP) academic-community partnership included representatives from AIDS Partnership Michigan, the HIV/AIDS Resource Center, Detroit Latin@z, Ruth Ellis Center, and the University of Michigan’s Center for Sexuality & Health Disparities. Research reported in this publication was supported by the MAC AIDS Fund (PI: Bauermeister) and by the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under award number T32AI114398 (Fellow: Jorge Soler). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the funding agencies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jorge H. Soler
    • 1
  • Cleopatra H. Caldwell
    • 2
  • David Córdova
    • 2
  • Gary Harper
    • 2
  • José A. Bauermeister
    • 3
  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.School of NursingUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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